Mr. Berger Leaves Earlier Than Planned

I really wonder how this would have gone down if it’d been in a U.S. gallery:

On Good Friday in 2008 John Berger went to the National Gallery in London to look at, and to draw, Christ Crucified by the early renaissance artist Antonello da Messina, a work he describes as “the most solitary painting of the scene that I know. The least allegorical.” Berger placed his small shoulder bag on the attendant’s chair in the corner of the room and began to draw with ink, wetting his index finger to smudge the lines and correct mistakes. Before long the attendant returned and asked Berger to remove his bag. Berger placed it on the floor at his feet and resumed drawing. The attendant said he couldn’t leave it on the floor. Berger explained that if he held it he would be unable to draw. The dispute escalated, and at some stage Berger exclaimed “fuck”. A supervisor was called who told Berger he had insulted a member of staff doing his job and had “shouted obscene words in a public institution”. He was escorted from the building: “I take it you know the way out, sir.”

Berger tells the anecdote in his new book published next month, Bento’s Sketchbook (Verso), which also contains his, hastily completed, drawing of the crucifixion . . .

The new book is Bento’s Sketchbook. The rest of the profile is at The Guardian.

Recent Posts

Criticism Isn't Free

CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!

You could also purchase one of my acclaimed ebooks.

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2018. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.