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Oil Painting: Creating the Most Authentic Images

It is worth starting with the fact that the author notes the importance of the matter that oil painting is not just a technique, but in a broader sense – an art form. This must be understood in order to indicate the unique role that such paintings played for people. Oil painting made it possible to create the most authentic images, which indeed carried the characteristics of the depicted objects, people. Thus, the paintings themselves become objects that can be purchased and preserved, thereby demonstrating various features. First of all, it is a manifestation of what the person who owns the painting can have.

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If initially, paintings were a tool of cognition, they began to move into the category of goods over time. From this moment comes a characteristic fracture in the perception of art; now, it becomes essential to demonstrate what a person can possess and not feel. What money did to social connections, oil painting did to appearances. Everything was reduced to object equality because everything became a commodity and exchangeable. The materiality of all reality was used to quantify it mechanically. A picture might speak to the soul in several ways, but never in the way it intended. The notion of absolute exteriority was expressed through oil painting.

Furthermore, the author pays a lot of attention to how the attitude to art and its perception have changed. The fact is that when a visitor finds themselves in a museum, they are surrounded by many paintings that are more or less significant (Berger, 2008). However, it is necessary to understand what story is behind each picture and how they fundamentally differ. After all, quite impressive work can be among the mediocre ones, but people do not know what they are different from in most cases. This is due to the fact that with the advent of the market, a relatively large number of contradictions in art have appeared (Berger, 2008). This is also evident in the tradition, which became a reflection of the heritage at some point in time. Consequently, oil painting with all its authentic forms becomes the cause of concentration around wealth. It was necessary to give the owner the opportunity to feel with their own hands what is in possession.

In this case, it becomes absolutely obvious how the desire for tangibility leads the paintings to a sense of hypocrisy in relation to the meanings embedded in them. For clarity, the author gives an example of various paintings of Mary Magdalene. The fact is that enclosed in the forms of oil painting, the image of a woman becomes tangible for the viewer through the chur, which is why the true intentions of the image disappear – renunciation and repentance (Berger, 2008). The image conveyed in this way becomes nothing more than a method of seduction through painting. On the other hand, there are paintings by William Blake, who was able to present this feeling of religiosity in a different light. This is achieved since the artist practically does not use oil paints, due to which the images acquire a sense of inaccessibility and remoteness.

All these facts lead to the fact that artists face specific problems in the creative process. In reality, this manifests itself in the fact that time becomes a particular struggle with themselves and circumstances for the great authors. It was almost impossible to profitably sell a painting that did not meet the conservative requirements for the plot and technique (Berger, 2008). Such were the conditions and realities of the market; it was necessary to create works that would meet the needs of those who were ready to purchase them. For the owner, the painting became part of the dignity through which they could perceive and feel the possession of the thing. Thus, artists inevitably faced contradictions within themselves, which were conditioned by the desire to create freely and not lose opportunities. All this was reflected in the struggle with the own language of art, which had to be transformed into something else.


Berger, J. (2008). Ways of seeing. Penguin Classics.

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