1. Everything around the image is part of its meaning
When discussing how paintings have changed from an exclusive experience to those who travel to the location and view them, or those who attend the church that they were intended for to art that can be viewed by anyone at any time through screens, he mentions that everything around the image is part of its meaning. On a screen, we just see the image created by the artist. But, the artwork was created to work with all of the other pieces surrounding it. Including frames, other pieces of artwork, alters, etc. Berger specifically mentioned Renaissance churches and chapels—stating that all of the works around the buildings represent different aspects of its life. This point resonated with me because I have done a lot of traveling. I have been to a handful of European churches, art museums, and palaces. Seeing art works in the environment that they were intended to is a completely different experience than seeing them through a screen.
2. You have to look at all aspects of a painting to understand the artist’s message
Berger shows a reproduction of a painting by Brueghel, titled “The Road To Calvary. The painting depicts Christ and the two thieves on their way to be crucified—but the viewer cannot tell this from afar. Berger states, “If you look at the whole picture, you will see that it is about grief, about torture, and above all, about the callousness, the are eager inquisitiveness, the superstitious drive of the crowd.” From afar the painting looks like a village of people all gathered close to one another, but as you look into the details of the painting, this one single painting can be presented as an example of social customs, fashion trends, landscape, or a story. All of these different aspects exist simultaneously within one single painting.