Documentaries on Art
Konangal will be screening a series of documentaries introducing some of the great masters of Art and their works once every month from next Sunday , 22nd of Feb onwards.
Power of Art
by Simon Schama
English with English sub titles
22nd Feb 2009 ; 5.45pm
Ashwin Hospital Auditorium
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. "Every artist thinks he's Rembrandt", Picasso once joked, but there would come a time when he thought so himself!
Full Name:Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio
Michelangelo Merisi left his birth town of Caravaggio in the north of Italy to study as an apprentice in nearby Milan. In 1593 he moved to Rome, impatient to use his talents on the biggest stage possible.
Caravaggio's approach to painting was unconventional. He avoided the standard method of making copies of old sculptures and instead took the more direct approach of painting directly onto canvas
without drawing first. He also used people from the street as his models. His dramatic painting was enhanced with intense and theatrical lighting.
Caravaggio's fate was sealed when in 1606 he killed a man in a duel. He fled to Naples where he attempted to paint his way out of trouble, he became a Knight, but was then imprisoned in Malta and then finally he moved to Sicily. He was pardoned for murder in 1610, but he died of a fever attempting to return to Rome.
Simon Schama on Caravaggio
"In Caravaggio's time it was believed that artists were given their talent by God to bring beauty to the world and to put mortal creatures in touch with their higher selves or souls. Caravaggio never did anything the way it was supposed to be done.
In this painting of the victory of virtue over evil it's supposed to be David who is the centre of attention, but have you ever seen a less jubilant victory? On his sword is inscribed "Humilitus Occideit Superbium", that is, humility conquers pride. This is the battle that has been fought out inside Caravaggio's head between the two sides of the painter that are portrayed here.
For me the power of Caravaggio's art is the power of truth, not least about ourselves. If we are ever to hope for redemption we have to begin with the recognition that in all of us the Goliath competes with the David."
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Born in Naples, Bernini was an exceptional talent from an early age and went on to dominate the art world of 17th century Rome. His w
ork epitomised the Baroque style and his sculpture, church interiors and exteriors and town planning could be seen everywhere. He was also a painter, playwright, costume and theatre designer.
Bernini worked under successive Popes; Pope Gregory XV made him a knight and Pope Urban VIII took him as his best friend. He was revered in his time until a jealous rage caused him to have the face of his mistress slashed after discovering her romance with his brother. His reputation fell further after his bell towers for the Cathedral of St Peter's started cracking in 1641. He redeemed himself and kick started his career again with arguably his most famous work, The Ecstasy of St Theresa, in 1652.
Simon Schama on Bernini
"A century after the creation of The Ecstacy of St Theresa, a French art lover doing the Tour of Rome entered the Church of S. Maria della Vittoria in Rome, peered at the spectacle and said: "Well, if that's divine love, I know all about it".
What Bernini's managed to make tangible is something that we all, if we're honest, know we hunger for, but before which we're properly tongue-tied. Something that has produced more bad writing, more excruciating moments of bad cinema, more appalling poems than anything else. No wonder when art historians look at this sculpture they tie themselves in knots to avoid saying the obvious, that is, that we're looking at the most intense convulsive drama of the body that any of us experience."
(Source : BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/powerofart/intro.shtml )
Simon Michael Schama, CBE (born 13 February 1945) is a British professor of history and art history at Columbia University. His many works on history and art include Landscape and Memory, Dead Certainties, Rembrandt's Eyes, and his history of the French Revolution, Citizens. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain. He was an art and cultural critic for The New Yorker.
Schama was born in London. In the late 1940s, the family moved to Southend-on-Sea in Essex before moving back to London.He worked for short periods as a lecturer in history at Cambridge, where he became a Fellow and Director of Studies in History, and at Oxford where he was made a Fellow of Brasenose College in 1976, specialising in the French Revolution In 1980 Schama accepted a chair at Harvard.
The year 2000 saw Schama return to the UK, having been commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of television documentary programmes on British history as part of their Millennium celebrations, under the title A History of Britain
In 2006 the BBC broadcast a new TV series, Simon Schama's Power of Art which, with an accompanying book, was presented and written by Schama. It marks a return to art history for him, treating eight artists through eight key works