John Peter Berger is a painter, art critic, essayist, prose writer, and fiction writer from the United Kingdom. His fictional work on the alienation of English urban life, sociological writings on migrant workers who abandoned isolated rural communities in pursuit of a contemporary economic lifestyle, and fictional work on European farmers who have been economically and politically displaced have established him as an intellectually stimulating and politically contentious writer. He began his artistic career by taking up painting, and by the 1940s, his work was being exhibited throughout London. He then worked as an art instructor for a period, which provided him with the time and inspiration to pursue a career as an art critic, and he published a number of his critical pieces at the same time. However, it was not until the late 1950s that he established himself as a fictional writer with his debut novel, ‘A Painter of Our Time’—a work that did not sit well with the political elites but piqued the literary world’s interest. However, Berger continued to write very provocative and problematic books, winning the Booker Prize for one of his best masterpieces, ‘G’. The BBC has adapted one of Berger’s most famous novels, ‘Ways of Seeing,’ into a television series. Berger is also a screenwriter, having penned numerous critically acclaimed films.
Childhood & Adolescence
John Berger was born in Hackney, London, to S.J.D. Berger, was a World War I infantry officer who served on the western front. Berger also spent two years in the Army from 1944 to 1945.
Berger attended the Chelsea School of Art and the Central School of Art in London after spending two years in the army.
John Berger’s Career
Berger established himself as a painter in the late 1940s, and his work began to be exhibited in various London galleries. Painting is one of his great interests, and he devoted the remainder of his life to it.
Berger began teaching art in 1948 and lasted until 1955, during which time he also dabbled in art criticism. Many of his critical writings and reviews were published in the New Statesman.
Berger’s ability to publish his work as a writer was ripe due to his artistic abilities, critical intelligence, and strongly held political convictions. His first work, ‘A Painter of Our Time,’ was released in 1958.
Between 1962 and 1964, Berger produced additional literary work – despite the fact that his first novel remained controversial. His subsequent writings, ‘The Foot of Clive’ and ‘Corker’s Freedom,’ dealt with the alienation of metropolitan English life.
‘Ways of Seeing’ was published in 1972 and was converted into a four-part television series by the BBC the following year. ‘Ways of Seeing’ established Berger as a household figure, and his critique of western cultural aesthetics was well praised.
Berger’s second novel, ‘G.,’ was published in 1972. It was a romantic satire fiction set in nineteenth-century Europe. In the same year, he was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Booker Prize.
Throughout the 1970s, Berger collaborated with Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner, co-writing numerous scripts for films such as ‘La Salamandre (1971), ‘The Middle of the World (1974), and ‘Jonah who will be 25 in the year 2000 (1976).
Berger’s most significant fictional work during the 1980s was a trilogy titled ‘Into Their Labour,’ which included the stories ‘Pig Earth,’ ‘Once in Europa,’ and ‘Lilac and Flag.’ Additionally, ‘About Looking, which was released concurrently, became a part of ‘Penguin Great Ideas.
Among his twenty-first-century works are ‘The Shape of a Pocket (2001), ‘I Send You This Cadmium Red (2001), ‘My Beautiful (2004), ‘Berger on Drawing (2005), ‘Hold Everything Dear (2007), ‘Meanwhile (2008), and ‘Lying Down to Sleep (2010), among others.
‘From A to X,’ one of his most recent fiction novels, was nominated for the 2008 Booker Prize. He and Salman Rushdie were the year’s only previous winners to get nominations.
Berger’s most recent works are ‘Bento’s Sketchbook (2011), ‘Le louche et Autres poèmes (2012), ‘And cataract (2012)’—a book subtitled “Some comments following cataract surgery”, ‘Understanding a Photograph (2013)’, and others.
His Significant Works
‘Ways of Seeing’ is widely regarded as one of Berger’s seminal works. The series and book go into the depths of Western cultural aesthetic traditionalism.
‘G.’, a fictional tale set in Europe and centered on the life of a Casanova who finally obtains political influence, is widely regarded as one of his finest works. He won the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the book.
Personal History and Legacies
Berger’s first marriage produced no children. He is the father of two children from prior relationships and a son, Yves, from his current marriage to Beverly Bancroft. Jacob — a well-known film director — and Katya — a writer and film critic — are his other children.
Estimated Net worth
John Berger’s estimated net worth is $ USD 8 million, with the majority of his income coming from his work as a painter, journalist, screenwriter, novelist, author, writer, poet, art historian, and critic.
In 1962, this renowned English novelist, poet, and painter moved to France in self-imposed exile due to his frustration with the coldness of metropolitan life in England.