I was too young to watch the BBC's first 'Civilisation', but my parents were impressed, so Lord Clark of 'Civilisation' probably had an influence on my education. As for a new presenter, Neil MacGregor, Andrew Marr, Nicholas Penny, Mary Beard, Dan Snow and Bettany Hughes have all been put forward as possible contenders. Any thoughts?
Last Edit: Mar 26, 2014 11:19:09 GMT -5 by Deleted
Lord Clark's programmes are still drifting around the inter-net I am sure. Civilization reached its apex during the first half of 1908. Since then there has been a decline precipitous indeed - nevertheless we must not abandon hope for the future!
Here we see the bringing in of the punch-bowl: the great moment of society's 1908 New-Year's Eve celebration of Claridge's centenary, and the actual high-point of civilization. Claridge's, as all the world knows, is at its gayest on New Year's Eve. In the civilized world, society elects to bring in the New Year socially, and the festival is no longer domestic. Fair women and brave men meet in the great caravanserai of fashion to wish each other a Happy New Year amid lights, music, laughter, and the enjoyment of dainty fare.
Writing in today's 'Times', Rachel Campbell-Johnston argues that Kenneth Clark came to praise art, but almost buried it, insisting that abstraction was a dead end for painting. The sound of an organ tumbles and rolls. A camera pans slowly over a succession of art’s most famous wonders: Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Primavera, the Taj Mahal and the dome of St Paul’s. And the television audience waits. The anticipation builds. It’s beginning to feel as if this organ might be heralding a much-delayed bride when a man with silvery hair finally strolls on to screen.
“What is civilisation?” he asks as he stands on the banks of the Seine. The buttressed stone towers of Notre Dame soar skywards beyond him. “I don’t know,” he continues, clipped accents cutting through the roar of the traffic. Rachel concludes that the art scene has changed significantly in the 30-odd years since Clark died.
' ... And yet in some ways the precepts he first promoted have flourished. At first, it might be hard to imagine this suited patrician weaving his way through the shuffling masses of today's Tate Modern crowd, turning his appalled glare upon the conceptual clutter of contemporary culture, pronouncing upon the shenanigans of Damien Hirst and his irreverent ilk. But the longer you think about it, the more you suspect it might in fact have pleased him. The Tate stands for his populist dream.'
This exhibition explores the impact of art historian, public servant and broadcaster Kenneth Clark (1903–1983), widely seen as one of the most influential figures in British art of the twentieth century. The exhibition examines Clark’s role as a patron and collector, art historian, public servant and broadcaster, and celebrates his contribution to bringing art in the twentieth century to a more popular audience.
The exhibition focuses predominantly on Clark’s activities in the 1930s and 1940s when he was a leading supporter and promoter of contemporary British art and artists. Using his own wealth to help artists, Clark would not only buy works from those he admired but also provides financial support to allow them to work freely, offered commissions, and worked to ensure artists’ works entered prestigious collections. Believing that a crisis in patronage had led artists to become too detached from the rest of society, Clark promoted a representational art that was both modern and rooted in tradition. The artists he favoured included the Bloomsbury Group, the painters of the Euston Road School, and leading figures Henry Moore, Victor Pasmore, John Piper and Graham Sutherland.
With the outbreak of war in 1939, Clark’s private patronage became a state project when he instigated the War Artists Advisory Committee to employ artists to record the war. Through the commissioning of such iconic works as Moore’s Shelter Drawings and Sutherland’s and Piper’s images of the Blitz he ensured that the neo-Romantic spirit that those artists’ work embodied became the dominant art of the period.
Examining his multifaceted role in the art world from patron and collector to art historian, as well as his role as a public servant and broadcaster, the exhibition will tell the story of Clark’s life through his diverse and cherished collection, including John Constable's sketch for 'Hadleigh Castle' below.
I should perhaps add that I too have problems with Tate Modern, as opposed to Tate Britain. I don't really appreciate that much of the art there, but I find the crowds who flock to see it fascinating. Perhaps they are themselves as much the art as what they are looking at?