Friday 11 Jul 2014
As part of the much-anticipated Russian Season, the BBC is set to unravel the rich and fascinating world of Russian art for the first time in a three-part series on BBC Four.
The Art Of Russia is the story of a nation's destiny – revolution and human conflict on a scale unparalleled in any other European country's history of art.
Emerging from the most conservative of cultures into the most radical, Russian art triumphed against the odds.
This is the country that gave us Malevitch's Black Square – a precursor of Rothko intensity – and the Faberge Egg... at the same time!
Art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon admits it's been an extraordinary journey for him.
"Previous series like The Art Of Spain and The Art Of Italy were simple compared to this. There, history divides into accepted terms like Renaissance and Romanticism.
"My journey through Russian history has been unexpected, challenging, surprising – and it's all the excitement of writing a history that really hasn't been set in stone like other nations' art histories.
"It's also a story of high human cost – because so many artists had to take risks just to get their message across."
Commenting on the commission, Richard Klein, Controller of BBC Four, said: "Russian art is hugely distinctive – big and bold and always wrapped up in the history of that vast country.
"I am delighted that in this series Andrew will bring to BBC Four a unique and colourful new perspective on this dramatic artistic landscape."
Episode one celebrates the great age of the icon, when Russia was at its most intense and inward looking.
Travelling to the northern wastes, Andrew discovers the country's most moving icons, the little known folk 'Lubock' art, antique Russia of the countryside, and Peter the Great's artistic revolution.
Episode two moves into the city and the glory days of Russian high baroque – when the Empress Elizabeth decorated St Petersburg like a wedding cake – and the extraordinary school of 'the Wanderers', a group of artists comparable to the Impressionists.
And episode three takes us from the Russian revolution of 1917 through the liberation of the Twenties, the repression of the Stalin years and to the present day with the creative chaos of art – a tension between the new Russian investment in art with the strict doctrine of the Putin years.
Alongside The Art Of Russia, The Russian Season will also feature highlights including a film about Vladimir Nabokov's soon-to-be-published last novel, Laura, which will also give exclusive insights into his world famous Lolita.
There will also be a film celebrating the legacy of Ballet Russes and its continuing influence on dance, art and culture – For Art's Sake: The Story Of Ballet Russes.
The Art Of Russia, three x 60-minutes, from 9.00pm, Wednesday 9 December 2009, BBC Four
Titles are subject to change.
The Art Of Russia series is part of a deeper commitment to arts and music on the BBC throughout 2010, with a wide range of initiatives aimed at supporting cultural Britain and better serving the public. These include: big, bold content ideas like the pan-BBC Poetry season and BBC Radio 3's year-long celebration of Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn; the creation of a new Arts Editor role for BBC News; and a new commitment to partnerships, including a project in development with the Public Catalogue Foundation which could enable the public to view every one of the UK's 200,000 publicly owned oil paintings online.
AH (The Art Of Russia)
TH2 (The Story Of Ballet Russes)
Front Desk (Vladimir Nabokov)
More content about The Art Of Russia, For Art's Sake: The Story Of Ballet Russes and The Russian Season will be published, as transmission approaches, on these pages: