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Art, truth and power

Andrew Marr with curator Louise Pullen, poet Fiona Benson, academic Liam Bright and design expert Stephen Bayley.

Andrew Marr on beauty and politics in art. Our idea of beauty was shaped by the great Victorian art critic John Ruskin. He thought all people deserved to see beauty every day, and compared, and founded a gallery in Sheffield for local industrial workers. To mark Ruskin's bicentenary, curator Louise Pullen has put together a new exhibition showing how his ideas about art, science, truth and beauty shaped the politics of the day.

"All art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists," declared WEB Du Bois. The civil rights campaigner, philosopher and social thinker argued that it was an artist's duty to shape a better world. Academic Liam Bright explains why Du Bois thought both artists and scientists had a duty to tell the truth.

In poet Fiona Benson's new volume Vertigo and Ghost, beauty, violence and power are never far apart. Benson's poems depict Zeus as a serial rapist, and capture the claustrophobia of modern domestic life.

And design guru Stephen Bayley considers what creativity is - and what it is for - in his new book How To Steal Fire. As a leading cultural critic, he asks what place beauty and imagination have in modern life.

Producer: Hannah Sander

Available now

42 minutes

Louise Pullen

Louise Pullen is the Curator of the John Ruskin Collection at the Museums Sheffield.
John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing opens at Two Temple Place on 26th January. This year is Ruskin’s bicentenary.

Liam Kofi Bright

Liam Kofi Bright is an assistant professor at the London School of Economics.
The London School of Economics forum on W.E.B. Du Bois is on Monday 21st January.


Fiona Benson

Fiona Benson is a poet. Her first collection, Bright Travellers, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. It won the 2015 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the 2015 Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection.
Vertigo & Ghost is published by Jonathan Cape.

Stephen Bayley

Stephen Bayley is a design critic, journalist and author. 
How To Steal Fire: The Myths of Creativity Exposed, The Truths of Creativity Explained is published by Bantam Press

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