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Channel 4 - The Genius of British Art [6 HDTVrips (AVI)]

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Channel 4 - The Genius of British Art [6 HDTVrips (AVI)]

Channel 4 - The Genius of British Art [6 HDTVrips (AVI)]
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The Genius of British Art The history of British art is the story of Britain. For centuries, artists have reflected our times and shaped the way we see ourselves. This series presents six passionate polemics on how British art makes us who we are today and gives us a vision of ourselves.
Channel 4 - The Genius of British Art [6 HDTVrips (AVI)]


David Starkey considers how royal portraiture has had an enduring influence on the iconic power of personality.
Dr Augustus Casely-Hayford explores William Hogarth's revolutionary pioneering of art for the people.
Howard Jacobson breaks through the frost of Victorian prudery in search of an eroticism all the more potent for its moral ambiguity.
Sir Roy Strong shows how the English invented a landscape art.
Janet Street Porter revisits her own youth to show how modern art since the 1950s has been at the forefront of the social and cultural changes that define our world today.
Jon Snow presents a timely reminder of how British artists have expressed and defined our response to the horror of war.


Episode 1 - Power and Personality:



Historian Dr David Starkey examines how royal portraiture from Henry VIII to Princess Diana has had an enduring influence on the iconic power of personality.



Henry was enamoured with the imperial power reflected by the art of Rome. His break with the Catholic Church prompted him to embrace the supreme artist of the Reformation, Hans Holbein, and form a partnership whose influence resonates to this day.

Starkey shows how first Henry and Holbein, and then Charles I and his court painter, Anthony van Dyck, set an enduring template for the depiction of power - a template that has been brilliantly adapted in our time by the renegade royal, Princess Diana. Thanks to her own 'Holbein', the photographer Mario Testino, Diana stripped away the pomp of monarchy to promote her own personality in the same way Henry VIII had pioneered 500 years earlier.

Far from being the also-rans in today's age of celebrity, the royals can truly be said to have invented it.


Episode 2 - Art for the People:



Dr Gus Casely-Hayford shows how our sense of identity was changed forever by the most distinctively British artist this country has ever produced: William Hogarth.



Until the 18th century, the only vision of Britishness that was available in our art was for and about the toffs. But in the 18th century a revolution occurred: a revolution in ink and paint rather than blood. For the very first time, it was possible to look at our art and see people who are identifiably 'us'. It's all thanks to Hogarth.

No other artist looked at Britain in the way that Hogarth did. There's no one in the art of Europe like him. Hogarth was born poor in London, to whose teeming streets he turned for inspiration throughout his life. Hogarth's London, by far the biggest city in Europe, was not only a great subject for the artist; it was the crucible in which British identity was forged.

Gus has a personal fascination with this story because in 1748, his ancestor, William Ansa, arrived in London from Africa. William had left the Gold Coast, where his father was a wealthy trader, for England to seek his fortune. But the ship's captain had tricked him into slavery and he had spent four years working on a sugar plantation in Barbados.

His case became a cause celebre. The good people of London petitioned for William's freedom and by the time he eventually got here, he was already famous. Gus has always wondered what William might have seen and felt in London. He finds the answers in the life and work of Hogarth.

Uniquely among artists at the time, there are black people everywhere in Hogarth. For Gus, it's an acknowledgement that the lives of people like William Ansa are part of British history too.

Hogarth's inclusive vision of British identity seemed horrifyingly vulgar to the ruling classes of his day. On the whole, the artistic elite shunned the rowdy life of the streets. They wanted a more elegant, chaste vision of British identity. Hogarth wanted art that depicted Britain in all its ugly, rude reality.


Episode 3 - Flesh:



Writer Howard Jacobson celebrates the way British artists depict sex and desire, and argues that the most compelling expression is to be found where we might least expect it: in the art of the Victorians.



We like to caricature the Victorians as hypocrites for whom the body is nothing but an embarrassment. In fact, thanks to artists like William Etty, who introduced the nude into British art in the 1820s, the Victorian era became a golden age for painting a wild and desperate sexuality.

What distinguishes this art from what was happening in, for example, France, is its moral consciousness. These are not paintings of unthinking hedonism. They reflect an awareness of the moral and psychological consequences of sex, which is what makes them all the more erotic. 'This for me is the British genius,' says Howard. 'We don't just do the fires of love today. We think about the way we'll feel tomorrow.'

Howard first discovered that British art of the 19th century was far more adventurous than it's given credit for when he visited his local gallery in Manchester as a schoolboy. Even today it's in the great provincial art galleries in which some of our most provocative sexual art can be found, thanks to those Victorian men of trade and industry, like soap billionaire William Lever, whom we often deride as prudish and philistine.

William Etty is York's most distinguished artistic son and yet Howard finds that not a single one of his nudes is on show here. We may laugh at the Victorians for what we think of as their prudery and repression but it seems we are hedged in by more moral prohibitions than they were.


Episode 4 - Visions of England:



At a time when Britain's contemporary art world has been dominated by the 'Sensation' generation of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, it's easy to dismiss English landscape art as nothing more than tea towel culture. That would be a big mistake, argues Sir Roy Strong.



Far from being a succession of chocolate box cliches, the genius of English landscape art is that it affords a sometimes shocking and subversive insight into the country's deepest fears.

What we see at first glance can be deceptive. Take that great national icon: Constable's The Haywain. On the surface it's an image of an idyllic pastoral scene but in its time it was revolutionary. Visitors to the Royal Academy in 1821 were horrified that Constable should exhibit a piece of local landscape on a scale usually reserved for subjects from the Bible or national history.

It was painted during a period when England was engaged in bloody war against France, there was turbulence in the countryside and industrial revolution in the cities.

All the most significant developments in English landscape art have happened at times of great national crisis - the Napoleonic Wars, the First and Second World Wars - when Britain was cut off from the continent and our artists were compelled to look inwards.

Sir Roy argues that, from Constable to Hockney, landscape artists have reflected visions of England on the cusp of change. It is nothing less than this country's greatest contribution to western art.


Episode 5 - Modern Times:



Modern Art has made us who we are and it has certainly made Janet Street Porter who she is.



Beginning in the stifling 1950s, Janet revisits her teenage years to show how modern art has been at the forefront of social and cultural changes, which define Britain today, from Patrick Heron through Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, Richard Hamilton, Gilbert and George, and the Sex Pistols, to Damien Hirst and the 'Sensation' generation of British artists.

Janet speaks to Hirst, Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry about how art has seeped into the very heart of British culture.


Episode 6 - The Art of War:



Former war reporter Jon Snow presents a timely reminder of how British artists have expressed and defined our response to the horror of war and, in the process, have triggered a debate about the role of art in British life. As the grandson of a First World War general, it's a story with a personal resonance for Jon.



A hundred years ago, artists were the first to challenge the view that war was all about victory and glory. Jon, a keen amateur artist himself, traces this legacy from the artists of the First World War - Richard Nevinson, Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer - right up to the work of contemporary artists such as John Keane, Jeremy Deller and Steve McQueen.

Britain's war artists have pushed the boundaries in their drive to bring home to us the true cost of war. We once celebrated war's valour and glory, but they have encouraged us to feel its pain and tragedy. They have given us an artistic legacy that will continue to provoke and to move generations to come.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-genius-of-british-art
Channel 4 - The Genius of British Art [6 HDTVrips (AVI)]

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