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Series 1: 7. Wars and Peace



Art goes to war during the first half of the 20th century: war with the old imperial order, war with convention and war with the very idea of what it means to be human. This is a story of artists grappling with the destruction, fighting back and transforming the culture of the Isles.\n\nActress Michelle Fairley performs WB Yeats’s poem Easter 1916, with its resonant phrase ‘a terrible beauty is born’ marking a turning of the tide against the British Empire. Contemporary war photographer Oliver Chanarin traces the story of William Orpen’s subversive protest image, To the Unknown British Soldier in France, picturing a lone draped coffin amid the magnificence of the Palace of Versailles, where peace delegates met in 1919.\n\nSome artists rejected war with their bohemian lifestyles or their utopian visions of a better future for the people. Artist Lachlan Goudie explores the great interwar shipbuilding project, the Queen Mary ocean liner, with its fusion of Glaswegian engineering and art deco luxury.\n\nAs refugees flee Germany in the 1930s ahead of a new war, comedian Eddie Izzard appreciates the radical modernist vision of the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, designed by German and Russian Jewish émigrés, and photographer Hannah Starkey reflects on the outsider’s point of view photographer Bill Brandt brought to his images of 1930s poverty, including the seminal Coal-Searcher Going Home to Jarrow.\n\nWith the Second World War bringing new horrors, artists grappled with Nazi atrocities. Film director Andrew MacDonald explores the controversy sparked by The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, a highly original take on the British war effort written and produced by his grandfather Emeric Pressburger. Artist Ryan Gander examines how sculptor Barbara Hepworth tried to make sense of war by reaching for beauty in abstract human forms, and Denzil Forrester looks ahead to the postcolonial aftermath of war, signalled by Indian artist FN Souza’s suffering black Christ in his 1959 painting Crucifixion.

Source: BBC 2

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