Culture

Civilizations

Survey the history of art, from antiquity to the present, on a global scale. Civilizations reveals the role art and creative imagination have played in forging humanity, and introduce viewers to works of beauty, ingenuity and illumination across cultures. Liev Schreiber narrates.

What Is Art Good For?

53m 6s

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?

Episodes

  • What Is Art Good For?: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    What Is Art Good For?

    S1 E9 - 53m 6s

    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?

  • The Cult of Progress: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Cult of Progress

    S1 E8 - 53m 34s

    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.

  • Color and Light: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Color and Light

    S1 E7 - 53m

    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.

  • Paradise on Earth: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Paradise on Earth

    S1 E6 - 53m 16s

    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.

  • Renaissances: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Renaissances

    S1 E5 - 53m 36s

    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.

  • Encounters: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Encounters

    S1 E4 - 53m 46s

    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.

  • God and Art: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    God and Art

    S1 E3 - 53m 36s

    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.

  • How Do We Look?: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    How Do We Look?

    S1 E2 - 53m 36s

    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.

  • The Second Moment of Creation: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Second Moment of Creation

    S1 E1 - 53m 16s

    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.

Extras + Features

  • What Is Art Good For?: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 9 Preview | What Is Art Good For?

    S1 E9 - 30s

    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?

  • Flights of Fancy: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Flights of Fancy

    S1 E9 - 3m 9s

    In December 1942, a Jewish teacher brings art supplies to children held by Nazis. They created art that would give them a momentary escape, if only in their imaginations.

  • Art from Fiery Immolation: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Art from Fiery Immolation

    S1 E9 - 3m 43s

    Some of the strongest contemporary art has the magical power of transformation, turning the ephemeral and destructive into something more enduring.

  • The Multitudes of the Displaced: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Multitudes of the Displaced

    S1 E9 - 1m 43s

    For artist Ai Weiwei, the calamity of our time is the disaster of the multitudes of displaced. Those who are uprooted, through no fault of their own, and cast adrift on an infinite ocean of terror and despair.

  • The Cult of Progress: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 8 Preview | The Cult of Progress

    S1 E8 - 30s

    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.

  • Manet Twists the Conventions of Art: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Manet Twists the Conventions of Art

    S1 E8 - 2m 30s

    In what's considered his last great work, Edouard Manet created a masterpiece famed as a masterclass in visual subversion.

  • George Catlin's Indian Portraits: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    George Catlin's Indian Portraits

    S1 E8 - 2m 18s

    Catlin was by no means indifferent to the suffering of the people whose faces appear in these paintings. But he didn't produce them in order to take part in some campaign to save the native Americans, instead he said they must perish.

  • Otto Dix's Definitive Artistic Statement: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Otto Dix's Definitive Artistic Statement

    S1 E8 - 3m 44s

    Otto Dix and his generation had borne witness to the horrors of World War I. They'd also been witness to the death of the nineteenth century faith in an inevitable, unstoppable progress.

  • Color and Light: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 7 Preview | Color and Light

    S1 E7 - 30s

    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.

  • Three Aspects of the Absolute: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Three Aspects of the Absolute

    S1 E7 - 2m 8s

    Out of the absolute of Hindu metaphysics comes the nearest visualisation you can get to of a trance.

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