Explore art in the age of revolution, war and profound scientific change and consider the question: Should art create a separate realm, a place of escape, or should it plunge into the chaos, transforming the way we see and live in the world?
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Examine the rise and fall of “progress” as an ideology, and see how the “civilizing” project that arose from Enlightenment ideas was fraught with contradictions that troubled European artists in different ways.
Explore the story of light and color in art - both in the search for greater realism and spiritual ecstasy. Journey from Gothic cathedrals and Indian courtly painting to modern art.
Explore one of humanity’s deepest artistic urges: the depiction of nature. But landscape painting is seldom a straightforward portrayal of observed nature; it's a projection of dreams, idylls, escapes and refuges—the elusive paradise on earth.
Travel east and west to explore the connections and rivalries between Renaissance Italy and the Islamic empires that experienced their own cultural flowering in the 15th and 16th centuries. Both spheres were open to influences flowing both ways.
See how advances in seafaring and a thirst for trade and exploration sent human beings around the planet. Distant and disparate cultures met for the first time, and art became the great interface by which civilizations understood each other.
Trace the relationship between religion and art, which has inspired some of the most ingenious, affecting, majestic and breathtaking works of art ever made. Yet beneath great works of religious art often lie conflict, intrigue and divine mysteries.
Explore the many functions of the human image in art. Portraits, paintings and sculptures, both life-size and colossal, perform a role—assuaging loss, expressing strength, inspiring fear—and were instrumental in depicting the human body today.
Examine the formative role of art and the creative imagination in the forging of humanity itself. Images and artifacts found in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and South America testify to the urge to develop civilizations. Liev Schreiber narrates.