Simon Schama's Power of Art (2006– )

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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... See full summary »

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Series cast summary:
Simon Schama ...
 Himself - Presenter / ... (5 episodes, 2006)


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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popular art
26 December 2007 | by (Herzlya, Israel) – See all my reviews

If there is such a thing as popular science probably the best name one can give to the genre this series belongs to is popular art. Simon Schama's series of commentary on eight masters and their masterpieces in the history of art have a uniting theme - how art can influenced by power and how power influences art - but yet seems to address mostly the non-initiated audience. The language of the series is sometimes the one of an specialist but no deep aesthetic lessons are given, and the central thread of the commentaries in most of the episodes is around the anectdotic explanation of the works, combined with actors rendering the central figures, in many cases with a very thick palette to use a plastic arts term.

The best moments of the series are in my opinion when the commentary raises atop the banal to create a real and veridical connection between works and times as in the episode about Picasso, or when the camera work of the director fits well the painters style as in the Van Gogh's episode. Yet some contemporary hints could have been avoided in the first, and the acted scene of Van Gogh's folly from the second. Schama is eloquent and catches the attention. Each episode in itself seems to have its better and its worse moments. As such series build in time, eight episodes may not be enough for a definitive conclusion, and the overall impression can improve if further artists and masterpieces will be explored in follow-up seasons.

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