Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Definitely Worth Watching

-    the new BBC4 three-part series on the History of Art Collecting in Britain, which started last week with the Earl & Countess of Arundel in 16th century and continues tonight with the more familiar C18 Grand Tourists.  It has a rather silly title 'Bought with Love : the Secret History of British Art Collections', given that the motivation was aesthetic, and Charles I's purchases were hardly secret, but it's so rare to see scholarly information intelligently presented to a mass audience.  Specialist commentators  have rightly described the first programme as enjoyable, informative and well shot; in fact their comments also pay the programme makers the compliment of correcting incidental inaccuracies (a wrong portrait ID) and adding qualifications that are probably hard to include in sixty minutes. So hats off to producer Franny Moyle and colleagues.  Hopefully the series will re-air outside the summer holiday season.
Immediately following that, BBC2 tonight has 'Who are you Calling an African Artist?' featuring Ibrahim El-Salahi and Meshac Gaba, whose work is at Tate Modern. 
In today's international art world, national or ancestral origins are only one form of identity, though often foregrounded  - think Sonia Boyce or Yinka Shonibare - and here is critic Jonathan Jones's trailer for the topic: 'In the case of 82-year-old El-Salahi, his is a tale of reconciling modernism as well as his own heritage.  But why is his work, along with Africa's wider art tradition, so often ignored in the west?  It's a  question tackled by Gaba, whose Museum of Contemporary African Art is an idea for an institution that doesn't yet exist.'

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