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Why art matters

John Berger's attempt to explain why true art must come from the margins is a flawed but noble vision

in his latest collection of essays The Shape of a Pocket John Berger elaborates a thesis about the political and moral significance of art. It is an ambitious attempt to say why art is important today. This is wonderful but treacherous territory. The temptation to think in crude terms about such matters often seems irresistible. To say, as Wilde did, that morality has nothing to do with art is frivolous; Wilde surely meant only that art has no obligation to uphold conventional morality.

Berger sees art as an arena in which we may come to a greater awareness of what…

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