Power of Art series
This looks to be very exciting: Simon Schama’s The Power of Art series is beginning tonight on PBS TV in North America.
The power of the greatest art is the power to shake us into revelation and rip us from our default mode of seeing. After an encounter with that force, we don’t look at a face, a colour, a sky, a body, in quite the same way again. We get fitted with new sight: in-sight. Visions of beauty or a rush of intense pleasure are part of that process, but so too may be shock, pain, desire, pity, even revulsion. That kind of art seems to have rewired our senses. We apprehend the world differently.
Art that aims that high – whether by the hand of Caravaggio, Van Gogh or Picasso – was not made without trouble and strife. Of course there has been plenty of great art created in serenity, but the popular idea that some masterpieces were made under acute stress with the artist struggling for the integrity of the conception and its realisation is not a “romantic myth” at all. A glance at how some of the most transforming works got made by human hands is an encounter with “moments of commotion”.
It’s those hot spots in which great risks were taken that The Power of Art brings you. Instead of trying to reproduce the un-reproducible feeling you have when you are face to face with those works in the hush of the gallery or a church, the series (and the book) drops you instead into those difficult places and unforgiving dramas when the artists managed, against the odds, to astound.
- from the BBC site for Schama’s The Power of Art. It was shown in the UK last fall.
Check your local schedules, please. I am really hoping that the Vancouver print TV schedule is correct that the first two parts will be aired at 9 and 10 pm tonight, coming from Seattle, as I’ve been getting conflicting information online. I’ll program the VCR in any case.
UPDATE 9:00pm. Dang! It’s not on here. Looking at the PBS site again, I think it’s offered only on digital stations at this time. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for when and if it appears on plain cable. I’d love to hear from readers who do see this program.