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The Power of Art: From Rembrandt to Rothko

Eight ways to move beyond prettiness, or what the BBC has to do with the appreciation of abstraction.

Throughout his prodigious scholarly career, Simon Schama (Columbia University) has steadily returned to one subject — art. Painters and paintings often take center stage in his academic books, his essays for The New Yorker (now collected in a single volume), and, most recently, his work on television. In 2006, Schama presented Power of Art on the BBC and PBS, and it wasn’t your ordinary trip through art history.

This is not a series about things that hang on walls, it is not about decor or prettiness. It is a series about the force, the need, the passion of art …the power of art.

That’s how the production announces itself. And, from here, Schama spends eight episodes, each an hour long, digging into the lives of eight transformative painters, starting with Caravaggio and Rembrandt and ending with Picasso and Rothko. (See the full lineup of artists here.) The series is available on DVD, and there’s also an accompanying book.

Today, we are spotlighting the episode dedicated to abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko:

The remaining segments can be watched here: Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Dan Colman edits Open Culture, which brings you the best free educational media available on the web — free online courses, audio books, movies and more. By day, he directs the Continuing Studies Program at Stanford University, and you can also find him on Twitter.


Published June 14, 2010

https://www.brainpickings.org/2010/06/14/the-power-of-art/

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