Welcome of Episode 9 of Civilisations, titled ‘The Vital Spark’, In this episode Simon Schama explores what he describes as ‘the unruly urges of gifted artists’ who have engaged in different ways with aspects of contemporary life in the 20th and 21st centuries. These artists include Mondrian, Kara Walker, Anselm Kiefer, El Anatsui, Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo Qiang and Michal Rovner. He addresses the thorny problem of how art can relate to contemporary life and catastrophic events in our machine and profit-driven worlds.
What conclusions does Schama reach in this episode? How does Schama’s approach compare with that of David Olusoga in the preceding episode ‘The Cult of Progress’? Many of the works he discusses are forms of installation art. Is this a medium that is well suited to convey a relationship between art and social or political events?
Join in our discussion hub on Civilisations by posting a response in the Comments section below before 10.30pm on Thursday 26th April 2017 (select 'save' to send your comment). One of the academic consultants on the series, Professor Gill Perry, will answer your questions and observations.
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