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Art of the Western World

Art of the Western World is a documentary series presented by Michael Wood, exploring magnificent masterpieces of the Western world in their cultural and historical settings. The series consists of eighteen episodes, each of which focuses on the artistic contributions of one period in the history of the West, from Ancient Greece to the late 1980s. From the classical ideals in Greek and Roman antiquity, through the Renaissance, to the postmodernism of the late 1980s, the series provides a panorama of 2000 years of architecture, painting and sculpture, and studies the art masterpieces as reflections of the Western culture that produced them.

The Legacy of Greece


Episode 01 - The Legacy of Greece
This episode traces the origins of humanism and the immortal classical style to Ancient Greece.

Episode 02 - Imperial Stone - The Art of Rome
The genius of Roman engineering and architecture was used to build an empire, whilst portrait sculpture exalted its rulers.

Episode 03 - A White Garment of Churches
With the fall of the Roman empire, Christianity flourished with the Church as patron of monumental Romanesque architecture and sculpture.

Episode 04 - The Age of Gothic
The origin of Gothic architecture as found in the choir of the Abbey Church of St. Denis and the Chartres Cathedral serves as a model of High Gothic style.

Episode 05 - The Early Renaissance in Italy
The rebirth of classical themes and humanistic ideas marked the Renaissance in Italy, as seen in Florentines Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Botticelli.

Episode 06 - The Northern Renaissance
Glowing color - made possible by the new medium of oil paint - and minute detail set the work of the Flemish masters Van Eyck and Grunewald apart from the Florentines.

Episode 07 - Heroic Ambitions
Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael displayed extraordinary talent working in a variety of media and elevated the status of the artist in Italian society.

Episode 08 - The Play of Light
Venetians like Titian, Tintoretto, and Palladio re-adapted the classical style with a theatrical flourish.

Episode 09 - The Birth of Baroque
The Church's campaign to counter the Reformation relied on dramatic depictions of religious scenes, such as those of Caravaggio and Bernini.

Episode 10 - Masters of Baroque
The royal courts in Spain and the wealthy burghers in the Netherlands commissioned major paintings by Velazquez and Rembrandt and shaped their content.

Episode 11 - The Age of Reason
The playful fantasy and provocative subjects of the Rococo style practiced by Watteau, Fragonard, and Boucher gave way to strict Rationalism, which insisted on morality in art and the purity of classical form, as seen in the works of David.

Episode 12 - The Passionate Eye
Striving for individual expression, Romantic painters Goya, Gericault, and Delacroix demonstrated a range of styles and subjects.

Episode 13 - Painting the Modern World
Courbet and his followers rejected the standard academic themes and techniques, Manet shocked Paris, and Impressionists represented the world bathed in color and changing light.

Episode 14 - Distanced Creations
Post-Impressionists Seurat, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cezanne broke new ground with daring and imaginative use of color and approaches to form.

Episode 15 - Between Genius and Abyss
With modernity came new energy and forms in Viennese building and painting. Paris saw the emergence of the Fauves, and of Picasso and Cubism. Kandinsky and others experimented with color abstraction.

Episode 16 - Between Utopia and Crisis
Modernism spawned not only Cubism, but also the abstract and the surreal. Le Corbusier and Wright applied the abstract principles to buildings. Dada responded to the devastation of World War One with nihilism; surrealists Dali, Magritte, and Miro showed Freudian influence.

Episode 17 - The Aftermath
The Abstract Expressionist movement established New York as a center for the visual arts. Works by Pollock, Warhol, Lichtenstein, and the sculptor Oldenburg are examined.

Episode 18 - New, Newer, Newest
With many of the rules tested and discarded, the art world has become international. Art is now accessible to everyone to create and appreciate.


Related Links
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