Booker-prize-winning author of titles including Ways of Seeing, G and A Painter of our Time had been living in Paris
John Berger, the Booker-prize-winning novelist and visionary writer who helped transform the way a generation looked at and perceived art, has died aged 90.
Berger had a profound effect on how visual art was appreciated with his book Ways of Seeing and the 1972 BBC television series based on it.
The actor and director Simon McBurney tweeted his reaction to Bergers death:
Bergers publisher, Verso Books, also tweeted in reaction to his death:
Art and the wider world seemed to make more sense after watching Berger on the BBC, with his piercing blue eyes, steady delivery and groovy seventies shirt, eloquently explain perspective or the idealisation of the nude.
Susan Sontag once described Berger as peerless in his ability to make attentiveness to the sensual world meet imperatives of conscience. Jarvis Cocker, to mark a recent book of essays about Berger, said: There are a few authors that can change the way you look at the world through their writing and John Berger is one of them.
In reaction to the news of his death, artist David Shrigley called Berger the best ever writer on art, and author Jeanette Winterson praised him as an energy source in a depleted world.
Berger lived for many years in a remote farmhouse in the French Alps, to where the British Librarys Jamie Andrews had to travel when the institution acquired Bergers literary archive in 2009.
More recently he lived in Antony, a suburb of Paris. It was from there he gave one of his final interviews with the Observers Kate Kellaway, giving his view, among other things, on the bigger picture around the Brexit vote. It seems to me that we have to return, to recapitulate what globalisation meant, because it meant that capitalism, the world financial organisations, became speculative and ceased to be first and foremost productive, and politicians lost nearly all their power to take political decisions I mean politicians in the traditional sense. Nations ceased to be what they were before.
Berger was a lifelong Marxist, a vehement critic of capitalism. He began his career as a painter before turning to writing, becoming an art critic for the New Statesman. He published his first novel, A Painter of our Time, in 1958.
His picaresque novel G won the Booker prize in 1972. Subsequent winners of the prize are routinely asked what they are going to do with the generous prize money and no-one has been able to better what Berger did. Disdainful of Booker McConnells historical association with indentured labour in the Caribbean, he said he would donate half the cash to the British Black Panthers, who were the black movement with the socialist and revolutionary perspective that I find myself most in agreement with in this country.
He kept the other half to support his work on a study of migrant workers which became the book with photographer Jean Mohr, A Seventh Man.