Five Documentaries to Appreciate Your Love for Art

Updated: Sep 10

While the art world has a routine full of surprises and discoveries that convert its perspective, there is a set of information, which, more than information, puts across a manner of appreciating art midst being amused, enlightened and briefed. With a thriving culture of visual commentary and the appeal elicited by individuals who come in peace and diversity from the arts that will only uplift your participation in them.


Simon Schama's Power of Art


Opening still from Simon Schama’s Power of Art. Courtesy: TVShow Time

As one of the premiere documents encompassing the influence of art on the past, present and future, Power of Art takes a closer look at how the perception of the art world was transformed by masterpieces and their creators. Through eight beginners of artistic legacy, including Van Gogh, Picasso, Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner and Rothko, spread across eight insightful episodes, scholar and author Simon Schama elaborates on reasons to celebrate the presence of art in the world.

Schama’s approach towards Western Art through the incomparable contributions of these masters is unconventional and visually captivating. Not only does he utilise the duration of this limited series to bring forth a collection of facts and symbols that blend into the narrative, but he also takes his fluency into account and engages his audience to look forward to every part of the BBC venture.


Matthew Collings’ This is Modern Art

Art is never complete without acknowledging the “contemporary”, an association drawn by British art critic Matthew Collings, through his series This is Modern Art. As a six-part television series, it was an amalgamation of humour and simple explanation that triumphed over the minds of art enthusiasts with its release in 1999.

Encapsulating the history and the then present of art with a bridge of strong emotion, Collings has perfected his attempt of representing modern art in ways relevant and consumed by his audience.


Matthew Collings. Courtesy: SHOWstudio

His vision consults human experience to link the art world to ideas of life in itself. A new wave of artists was a matter of recent discourse in the British mass media, which was complemented and established by his witty and lighthearted yet informed commentary.


The series can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6ZhnMA6Cls&list=PLOOx6MI-46XkMAdTReDOcpSeYf1DhaTfT


John Berger’s Ways of Seeing


John Berger, Ways of Seeing/Episode 1 (1972). Courtesy: MEO’s LITERARY BLOG

John Berger is one of the prodigies in terms of subscribing to art as an interactive entity, and Ways of Seeing is his evidence. Another brilliant documentary series by BBC introduces John Berger and his fascinating ways of seeing art and its influence on culture and society in four 30-minute films curated to address painting, nudity, oil paints and hierarchy as well as photography to reflect upon the production and consumption of artistic thought and practice.

He conducts conversation in the same way as the visuals mentioned in it, by ensuring that he sustains the attention and cognition of people witnessing him present, away from societal rigidity. As a documentary with the importance of textual preservation, Ways of Seeing is his combination of theory and experience, irrespective of whether it is virtual or real.

From the choice of locations to the anecdotes in the realm of visual culture, Berger succeeds at challenging and imbibing an individual and independent visual opinion in his audience as well as his subject matter.


You can watch the series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL89TeQxlaoWPVnm27FB4QQJbbeJSOd_mf&app=desktop


Robert Hughes’s The Shock of the New


Opening still from Robert Hughes’s The Shock of the New. Courtesy: Rob Scholte Museum

Back in 1980, Robert Hughes took up the tone of a magician in the world of art, by letting changes and significance appear in his presentation. In The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change, he conjures the process of change in the world of art - and change in this world is magical. Concepts like technology, authority, paradise, aspirations and reality, liberty, internalisation, culture and commercialisation are articulated through art, architecture and details of a century that set the stage for art as we know it. The digital and physical publication of the subject matter has proved to be integral to the growth of art in an interdisciplinary environment that adapts to an ever-evolving human race.

Art and architecture is also transversed into political, economic, cultural, social, historical and cultural contexts with unexpected settings and connections that Hughes makes in dedication to the wonders of art.


Find the series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFtSvldL7Mh4ismj4BgH33pBR9hbtBkxz


PBS’s Art21

A digitally living box full of visual art and contemporary artists, PBS’s Art21 depicts the role of art in a 21st century world. Beginning from the identity of artists to their performances and processes, it absorbs a considerable proportion of how the arts function.


"Johannesburg", Art21 Season 9. Courtesy: Art21

As a resource and archive documenting the history of contemporary art, Art21 discusses various themes that are prevalent in the arts and provide the artist as well as the spectator with a uniquely established language to converse. It features artists from across the globe, with their concentration being the only criteria of their choice.

Set across platforms for emerging artists and spaces for visual communication, the series, since 2001, has carried the responsibility of exploring the threshold of the art world, and the search continues.


Watch the series here: https://www.pbs.org/show/art-21/


Learning and exchanging is a continuous process in art, for both the creator and the spectator - and it is the visual of modern times that condenses their relationship into one of memory and time. With more information, it is easier to build and break the arts in your imagination. Who knows, you might appreciate something you may have never noticed before!


While you take a break from the learning, here are some fascinating books you can count on and let art surprise you!




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