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Londoner John Berger is the art critic of the New Statemans and The Observer; he's also a Marxist, as anyone reading "Toward Reality" will not fail to notice. Though Berger in too sophisticated to spout the old social-realism sewage Moscow journals float in, being a well-fed "revolutionary" of the West, his own doodling of the dialectic in apparent everywhere. Constructivist Gabo has a sense of historical destiny"; "epic painter of peace" Then Holt, is "herald of the new society"; Courbet is full of "uninhibital fraternity"; Goya's "protests are relevant in an age of Buchenwald and Hiroshima" Leger celebrates "richer industrialization" and the "profound humanism of his o his materialist philosophy"; Plateau in "communal". And so it goes. Dubuffet, Klee and Action Painters are out, the Venice Biennial honoring "the image of muck" accompanies "the death throes of imperialism", Pollock is "meaningless", bourgeols culture "wastes itself" in "crises of decaying capitalism" and one can judge art only "by the criterion of whether or not it helps.... the world wide struggle for equality". Doctrinaire assessments of this sort are currently part of England's New Left movement; needless to say they are considered extremely chief. Berger rides the "wave of the future" with seriousness and sensitivity; to many of his persuasion he undoubtedly seems a prophet. To anyone else, a rather genteel and gullible propagandist.
Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1962
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1961


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