Friday, June 18, 2010

The Power Of Art / Simon Schama's Triumph


Van Gogh's Wheat Field with Crows

[ Click on Picture to enlarge ]

Like a hidden buried treasure I stumbled upon BBC's magnificant three disc 2006 production of The Power Of Art ~ which features renowned art historian Simon Schama passionately examining eight of history's most influential works and artists. I found each disc breathtaking in its scope and absolutely brilliant in its execution: Allen L Roland

I was a double major in college ~ Art and English literature. My senior Art thesis was a series of three massive paintings ~ one of which may still be hanging in the basement of my college fraternity house but much more likely it has long since been rightfully discarded as irrelevant.

Art history was a prerequisite for my major and I eagerly devoured the works and lives of the past Art masters as I did the great writers of our age. I was still looking for myself at that age but I sensed that art and literature touched a deep longing within myself to make a difference or leave my mark on this life. Jack London's words were my anthem ~ " I would rather be a blazing comet, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet ~ the proper purpose of man is to live, not exist. I shall use my time."

So imagine my delight when I uncovered Simon Schama's 2006 BBC production of The Power Of Art ~ for Schama is the ultimate Art historian. This three set disc is an absolute treasure for it includes historical reenactments and in depth stories behind the works of Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso and Rothko. But it's Schama's trademark storytelling that is truly spellbinding for he captures the essence of each artist, both flaws and virtues, and effortlessly blends their art with the times ~ which left me not only deeply moved but informed and inspired as well.

No where is this more evident than his section on Vincent Van Gogh where he uses Vincent's written words to his brother Theo to establish Van Gogh's remarkable intellect and then goes on to clearly establish Van Gogh as the father of modern art ~ an artist who unabashedly painted what he alone saw and shared it with the world. " This is not a crazy man wielding his brush, Shama exclaims ~ this is a man who wanted to touch souls and he did it through his paintings . "

And that he did ~ and could I possibly wish for anything more gratifying than touching people with my gift. Check out this ten minute prelude to Schama's Van Gogh section ~ then rent or buy the set and be prepared to be moved. For that indeed is the power of art ~ the power to touch, move and elevate souls.

The Power of Art / Van Gogh / video 10 minutes

Allen L Roland

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Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his
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