Monday, 22 March 2010

Seven Ages of Britain: the Age of Twaddle

I was annoyed by the last in David Dimbleby's otherwise watchable series on the BBC Seven Ages of Britain .

Regarding the function of art in the modern age, the fallacy was advanced that since the horrors of the First World War figurative art has been inadequate to express the realities of the world, somehow. Actually the most evocative painting related to the Great War is probably Sargent's 'Gassed'. This epic work of painterly realism is beautiful and tragic and encapsulates the misery and futility of the conflict, and does not seek to depict the illusory glory or glamour of war. If this work had been featured it would have demolished the case for ragged abstraction as the best means of representing a shattered and broken world.

Things got more depressing as the programme went on, especially as the sillier 'art' manifestations of more recent times came under the spotlight. I think we should be able to do better than that as the culmination of 1000 years of culture.

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