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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 6 – First Contact
Civilisations episode 6
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Civilisations episode 6 – First Contact

In the 15th and 16th centuries distant and disparate cultures met, often for the first time. These encounters provoked wonder, awe, bafflement and fear. And, as historian of empire David Olusoga shows, art was always on the frontline. Each cultural contact at this time left a mark on both sides: the magnificent Benin bronzes record the meeting of an ancient West African kingdom and Portuguese voyagers in a spirit of mutual respect and exchange. By contrast we think Spain’s conquest…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 5 – The Triumph of Art
Civilisations episode 5
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Civilisations episode 5 – The Triumph of Art

Think Renaissance and you think Italy. But in the 15th and 16th centuries the great Islamic empires experienced their own extraordinary cultural flowering. The two phenomena did not unfold in separate artistic universes; they were acutely conscious of, and in competition with, each other and mutually open to influences flowing both ways.     The fifth film in Civilisations goes east and west with Simon Schama: to Papal Rome but also to Ottoman Istanbul and Mughal Lahore and Agra, exploring…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 3 –  Picturing Paradise
Civilisations episode 3
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Civilisations episode 3 – Picturing Paradise

In Civilisations episode 3, Simon Schama explores one of our deepest artistic urges - the depiction of nature. Simon discovers that landscape painting is seldom a straightforward description of observed nature - rather it is a projection of dreams and idylls, as well as of escapes and refuges from human turmoil, the elusive paradise on earth.     Simon begins in the 10th century, in Song dynasty China. The Song's scrolls are never innocent of the values of that world…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 2 – How Do We Look?
Civilisations episode 2
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Civilisations episode 2 – How Do We Look?

In Civilisations episode 2, Professor Mary Beard explores images of the human body in ancient art, from Mexico and Greece to Egypt and China. Mary seeks answers to fundamental questions at the heart of ideas about civilisations. Why have human beings always made art about themselves? What were these images for? And in what ways do some ancient conventions of representing the body still affect us now? In raising these questions, Mary explores how the way we look can influence…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 1 – The Second Moment of Creation
Civilisations episode 1
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Civilisations episode 1 – The Second Moment of Creation

Civilisations episode 1 - The Second Moment of Creation: the first film by Simon Schama looks at the formative role art and the creative imagination have played in the forging of humanity itself.     The Second Moment of Creation The film opens with Simon's passionate endorsement of the creative spirit in humanity and the way in which art can help to forge the civilised life. Civilisation may be impossible to define, but its opposite - evidenced throughout history in…

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