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Nigel Spivey presents How Art Made The World

How Art Made The World - part of a rich summer of arts on BBC Television

How Art Made The World - new BBC TWO series starting in May

Other arts programming on BBC Television this summer

What links the Hello Boys! Wonderbra campaign, Michelangelo's David and a 35,000 year old stone statuette?

The answer is a fascinating revelation about how and why human beings create images.

This May on BBC TWO, How Art Made The World tells the epic story of how the images that we surround ourselves with today come from a world that is thousands of years old.

Presented by archaeologist, art historian and classicist Dr Nigel Spivey, the series investigates the far-reaching impact ancient art has had on contemporary society.

Encompassing everything from cave paintings to ceramics, pyramids to palaces, icons to artefacts, How Art Made The World ventures across five continents and 100,000 years of history to unravel the mystery of why humans have always made art.

Combining anthropology, archaeology and neuro-biology, the series, and accompanying book, uncover universal truths about why images have such a profound effect on us.

The five part series covers:

More Human Than Human.

One image dominates our contemporary world above all others: the human body.

How Art Made The World travels from the modern world of advertising to the temples of classical Greece and the tombs of ancient Egypt to solve the mystery of why humans surround themselves with images of the body that are so unrealistic.

The Day Pictures Were Born

The discovery of prehistoric cave paintings in the last century led to the shocking realisation that humans have been creating art for over 30,000 years.

Episode two reveals how the very first pictures ever made were created, and how images may have triggered the greatest change in human history.

The Art of Persuasion

The visual devices used by Tony Blair and George Bush to get themselves elected and maintain power come not from modern times, but a world that is thousands of years old.

How Art Made The World ventures back to the creation of Stonehenge and the reign of Alexander the Great to reveal how imagery became an indispensable weapon in every leader's political armoury.

Once Upon A Time

Each year over seven billion people across the world are drawn to see the latest feature films in the cinema.

This episode reveals how the most powerful storytelling medium ever created exploits visual techniques invented by artists in the ancient world.

To Death And Back

Today in the 21st Century people see fewer real dead bodies than at any time in history. Yet in the modern world we seem almost obsessed with images of death.

In an investigation encompassing ancient Jericho, Aztec America and classical Italy, How Art Made The World discovers what it is that has compelled human beings to surround themselves with images of death for thousands of years.

Other BBC Television arts programming April-August 2005:

A Picture Of Britain - BBC ONE, May/June

A Picture Of Britain is a celebration of the British landscape as seen through the eyes of artists, writers and composers.

A unique collaboration between the BBC and the Tate, the project comprises an exhibition at Tate Britain and BBC programming, the centrepiece of which is a landmark six-part BBC ONE series presented by David Dimbleby.

A Digital Picture Of Britain - BBC FOUR, May/June

This six-part companion series to A Picture Of Britain challenges several of the country's most distinguished photographers to abandon their 35mm film cameras and use the latest digital technologies.

Their ambition is to produce brand new compelling images of Britain's urban, rural and industrial landscapes.

The World's Most Photographed - BBC TWO, June

This major new series and National Portrait Gallery exhibition developed jointly by the two organisations, explores the way photography has been used and manipulated to construct the image of 10 figures from history.

It looks at international stars - such as James Dean, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali - and world leaders and politicians including Queen Victoria, Mahatma Gandhi and John F Kennedy, and how photography was used for propaganda by Adolf Hitler.

Imagine - BBC ONE, three part special (May) and series five (June)

Whatever you call it, "skyscraper" or "high-rise", the tall building has reached a milestone in its evolution - it can be an iconic presence, a symbol of aspiration, a link between earth and sky or a soulless instrument of financial speculation.

In this three-part Imagine special Alan Yentob talks to leading architects and travels across the globe to chart the history of the tall building.

Roald Dahl and Frida Kahlo are just two of the figures to be explored in series five of BBC ONE's flagship arts strand, Imagine.

The Culture Show - BBC TWO, ongoing

Hot on the heels of interviews with arts legends such as David Hockney, Al Pacino and Damian Hirst and major pieces on the Macclesfield Psalter, MOMA and podcasting, BBC TWO's weekly arts magazine show runs until mid June when it breaks for summer (returns in the autumn).

Forthcoming interviewees include Peter Maxwell Davies and Zaha Hadid.

Classical music:

Brand New Flashmob Opera - BBC THREE, April

A second Flashmob event follows the overwhelming success of last year's Flashmob - The Opera.

In an unusual location north of Birmingham, but south of Aberdeen, Dr Sophie Faust is at the roulette wheel with a male chorus of gamblers.

Brilliant academic, published author, Olympic Gold medallist, rich and ambitious, she has clawed her way to the top and without letting anything stand in her way. But she finds out that her success comes at a terrible price.

For this is the story of a woman who sold her soul to the devil. And now the devil has come to collect.

Piazzolla: Tango Maestro - BBC FOUR, April

A documentary on the famous composer Astor Piazzolla, the programme features new interviews shot in Argentina with Piazzolla's immediate family, friends and musicians.


The BBC Proms, founded to bring the best of classical music to a wide audience, is broadcast across BBC ONE, BBC TWO and BBC FOUR.

Broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall, the BBC Proms coverage on BBC Television culminates in the famous Last Night of the Proms on BBC ONE.

BBC Singer Of The World - BBC TWO/FOUR, June

One of the BBC's flagship musical events, BBC Singer Of The World is generally regarded as one of the world's greatest vocal contests.

The competition's five concert rounds will be shown on BBC FOUR and the final will be broadcast live on BBC TWO.

Beethoven season - including BBC Radio 3's The Beethoven Experience

Beethoven - BBC TWO, June

Award-winning actor Paul Rhys stars as Beethoven in a major new three-part drama-documentary series on the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven, presented by conductor Charles Hazlewood.

Beethoven Uncovered - BBC FOUR, June

Three rehearsal/performance programmes taking some of Beethoven's key works featured in the BBC TWO series and analysing them in more detail.

Charles Hazlewood conducts a period orchestra formed especially for the series.

Each programme focuses on a different piece and in it he takes the orchestra through a tight rehearsal period and then conducts a complete performance of the work.

Within the rehearsal period Charles talks directly to the television audience explaining the structure of the music and demystifying the complex language of classical music.

Barenboim On Beethoven - BBC FOUR

In January 2005, the great pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim gave a series of masterclasses in front of cameras on Beethoven Piano Sonatas in Symphony Hall, Chicago, USA.

He was coaching young professional soloists already with international careers.

The exceptional pianists taking part in the programme are: Lang Lang, David Kadouch, Shai Wosner and Jonathan Biss.

In the programme, Barenboim takes each player through their chosen Sonata movement, illustrating the importance of structure and the relationships between tempo, harmony and dynamics.

Beethoven's Hair - BBC TWO

Beethoven's Hair traces the unlikely journey of a lock of hair cut from Beethoven's corpse and unravels the mystery of his tortured life and death.

The film begins in modern times when a pair of Beethoven enthusiasts, named Ira Brilliant and Che Guevara, purchase the hair at a Sotheby's auction.

The story unfolds tracing the past generations of owners, culminating in the futuristic science that reveals Beethoven's 'medical secret'.

Based on Russell Martin's best-selling book and set to a lush score, this is the story of characters separated by time and place, whose only connection is an unlikely relic that touched each of their lives - Beethoven's hair.

Along the way, this film sheds new light upon the cause of Beethoven's various maladies, including his deafness, as well as accounting for his volatile personality and perhaps even the nature of his great art.



Category: Factual & Arts TV

Date: 31.03.2005
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