In each episode historian Simon Schama treats, in his own erudite, unconventional and somewhat socially engaged style, a work of art from a great master. He concentrates not just on the art... See full summary »
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2006  
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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In each episode historian Simon Schama treats, in his own erudite, unconventional and somewhat socially engaged style, a work of art from a great master. He concentrates not just on the art history as such, but mainly on the relationship between the work and the historical context of its creation, as this touches the significance of and vision on the subject as well as the life of the artist: where and when did he produce it, why, for which destination... Written by KGF Vissers

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20 October 2006 (UK)  »

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Sexing up the historian
27 October 2006 | by (Londinium) – See all my reviews

I have only watched Simon Schama's diatribe on Bernini and this 'review' is only on that one episode but I tend to think it's indicative of the whole series or even of his TV work in general. The write up in my local online listing said : Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Theresa shows a nun in the state of orgasmic bliss. How was it ever allowed? Simon Schama tells a story of sex and the sacred in Seventeenth Century Rome. The ultimate premise of the show is that after a rise and fall style career Bernini ( whilst not so favoured - 'POPEular' - as when at his summit ) Made the 'Ecstasy of Saint Theresa' sculptural masterpiece - which again thrust him into the limelight. Schama's thesis is that this 17 Century Baroque tour de force or gaudy, kitsch ode to the farrago that is superstition - viewed from a non-observable angle ( false from the perspective of an observer ) can be seen that the angelic spear holder is about to 'shove' the spears 'head' up her in a very sexually provocative manner - her face in a climactic climax at this 'Charismatic' event. This is bizarre and if you see this work as it's meant to be seen, the angle of the 'thrust' is into her heart ( As the original mythic story suggests - the divine joy/sleep of God etc... ). That the face, in a state of orgasmic delight or the last moments of death, tortuous pain or just dozing off are all same is very well known and doesn't add anything to his platitudes on Art, sex or Bernini. It seems to be just a fantasy of, or a cheap trick to put some sex appeal into this, not even slightly charismatic TV historian.


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