After a busy year culling from the celebrity world, the Reaper has got off to an early start in 2017 with John Berger, who has died at the age of 90.
How best to describe Berger? Critic? TV presenter? Novelist? Painter? Poet? They all apply. The Stoke Newington-born Berger published his first novel, 'A Painter of Our Time' in 1958, but became a household name in 1972 with his acclaimed TV series 'Ways Of Seeing'. A book version soon followed, which has been essential reading for art students ever since. Not everyone agreed with Berger's interpretations of art and art history. But nobody could deny how he achieved that rarest of things: he managed to cut through all the typical academic bullshit and made art understandable, accessible and inspiring. Seriously, if going round art galleries leaves you cold, buy a copy of 'Ways Of Seeing'. Now.
Berger was never short of opinions. He wrote cleverly and elegantly about the objectification of women throughout history; even on the cusp of his tenth decade he was still offering thoughts on the likes of post-Brexit Europe (he relocated to France in 1962 and lived there until his death). It would be easy to say the art world has just suffered a great loss – but that wouldn't do justice to his incredible legacy. We all have.