Different Ways Of Seeing: The Thankful Poor By John Berger

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Different “Ways of Seeing” In the essay, “Ways of Seeing,” John Berger applies Marxism to art history. Marxism is the social, economic and political theory formed by Karl Marx. It deals with class struggle and the oppression of the lower classes by the upper classes. In the essay, Berger focuses on using Marxist methodology, when he analyzes and explains an artist named Frans Hal. Berger uses Hals paintings to demonstrate the structure of social classes, and their struggles to give an idea of his approach to art. I will now analyze the painting, The Thankful Poor, by Henry Ossawa Tanner using Berger’s approach to art. In the painting, The Thankful Poor, painted in 1894, there is an old man and young boy. The old man could perhaps be the …show more content…
His features are difficult to make out, but the boy’s, I can see clearly. The boy’s eyes are closed and one hand is touching the edge of the table, while the other touches his forehead. Although, their hands are not in praying position and the old man’s features are lost, the young boy’s image portrays that they are preparing to say grace. The wheat yellow beaming through the window gives me a positive and dull image. It attracted my attention more than the other colors, but it also gives off a sense to what the image is portraying. The overall image of the painting gives me the idea that they are poor but humble enough to thank God for what they do have. According to Berger “The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled” (141). With that being said, what I saw from the painting is similar to Tanner’s views but quite different. In The Thankful Poor, Tanner illustrates a grandfather and grandchild giving thanks before a meal. In the painting, Tanner’s main focus is the elderly man and young boy. While the main objects are being focused on, Tanner blends the light pouring from the

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