The whole of our existence is shaped by our experiences – the various situations that we find ourselves in. Parts of our experiences are influenced by what we see, and what we see takes us to new levels of experiences that allow us to situate ourselves in thoughts or visions represented by what we virtually perceive.
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Interpretations of visual texts, such as works of art, therefore are based on our perceptions and points of view, consequently leading to subjectivity despite the conventional meanings embedded within these works of art by the artist.
Under these pretexts, various works of art, borne out of the social events, situations, or landscapes in the past, become subjects of mystification. Such are the views or perspectives of John Berger on art, particularly on Franz Hals’ portraits, the “ Regents of the Old Men’s Alms House” and the “ Regentesses of the Old Men’s House” (1580-1666) – that the social construct from which these works were created are mystified because of its incongruity to modern times.
Berger, a seasoned art critique, presented a complex yet analytical perspective on the works of Hals, focusing on their being representative of history and how they are inevitably mystified not only by our perspectives as inhabitants of the modern day world but also Hals’, in his own words, oversimplification of what the portraits truly imply.
Moreover, because of Berger’s analysis and personal critiques on the work of Hals, we as viewers of the visual text, begin to understand that the portraits are not merely images that represent superficial artistic and social elements such as unity and harmony, the ideas formed from observing facial expressions, gestures, and such.
Furthermore, Hals’ works of art are snapshots of the social and economic situations that the artist, the regents and the regentesses found themselves in.
The portraits seem to capture the kind of relationship that exists between the artist and the subjects of art, expressing something more – a drama that represents a historical landscape that is shared by Hals and his subjects within a socialenvironmentthat was illuminated and solidified by large gaps among social groups or classes – brought to life by Hals’ artistry and ingénue in translating emotions and perspectives to visual arts.
The analytical perspectives of Berger as explored in his interpretations of Hals’ portraits shall be utilized to describe the messages or arguments evident in a portrait taken of the actor/rapper Chris “ Ludacris” Bridges. In order to do so, it is highly significant to go over Berger’s perceptions or points of view on viewing art, particularly of Hals’ portraits, by creating a framework from which the visual analysis of the Ludacris’ portrait shall be based on.
According to Berger, the act of viewing pieces of art may be done in various ways depending on: a) one’s perspective, b) the artists’ perspective, c) other people’s perspectives, d) the social, economic, or political situations within which the piece of art was conceptualized, and e) the present social, economic, or political situations completing a shared link between the past and the present.
Moreover, Berger stressed that it is equally important that in order to understand the genuine sense or value of pieces of art, that viewers look or interpret them beyond their personal perspectives and the pictorial nature of the portrait.
Viewing art should not adhere to convention of perspectives that was existent during the Renaissance because it limits the p of pieces of art to convey deeper and comprehensive meanings. The convention of perspectives isolates what the viewer might all-inclusively learn cognitively, emotionally or psychologically, socially, spiritually and such.
Therefore, reading or interpreting visual texts should be a combination of one’s perspectives as they relate to the artists’ and other people’s perspectives, and the connections between the social, economic, and political situations from past to present. Human beings should also be aware that they are represented by and connected to art, as art is also able to view the viewer because of shared visual perspectives.
The key to analyzing Ludacris’ portrait is to view it radically, if we are to align ourselves with Berger’s ideologies and perspectives. Ludacris’ portrait, being an image intended to represent remarkable style to signify celebrity-like success, borders on deception and absurdity.
The explicit message that the artist photographer Robert Maxwell intended to express was associated with the vision of Moët & Chandon; and that is, how adapting elegant, stylish, and distinctive fashion may be translated to remarkableness and success in the limelight that are consequently significant causes for celebration This argument is solidified by the nature of the camera – a narrow and limited perspective of things and situations – utilized by Maxwell in order to represent a specific idea or though restricted by the visualizations or representations of Moët & Chandon, an well-known international producer of champagne that embodies conceptions of “ splendour, pleasure, and prestige.” (Moët & Chandon)