British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Looking into Paintings (6 Parts)

Synopsis
Part 1 investigates how paintings have been interpreted and re-interpreted through the ages, beginning with Leonardo’s ‘Mona Lisa’. Shows that we have expectations about paintings and painters based on a range of social, cultural and personal factors. The impact a painting makes often contrasts strongly with what the painter has in mind. This is illustrated in an interview with Richard Hamilton whose painting ‘The Citizen’ was acquired by the Tate Gallery in London. Also considers Uccello’s ‘Rout of San Romano’.
Part 2: Discusses Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’. Robert Cumming also talks to experts such as Reg Gadney, the biographer of Constable, Graham Reynolds, the art historian and John Bull who has restored a number of Constable’s paintings. Also considers the work of the young contemporary artist, Anthony Zych, whose enormous landscapes look like magnified details from some of Constable’s work.
Part 3: Alastair Smith talks to Maggie Hamblin, who has a number of paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, including one commissioned by the gallery of the Nobel prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin. Shows Maggie Hamblin embarking on a new commission from the time she first meets her sitter, to the hanging of the portrait in his drawing room. The programme starts in Kenwood in London, where the novelist John Fowles, in a passage from one of his novels, reflects on Rembrandt’s great self-portrait in that house.
Part 4 discusses the work of Malevich, Mondrian and Matisse. Matisse, famous for figure paintings, in his last years produced some of the most vivacious abstract works. Are they wholly different from Matisse’s earlier work and contradictory to it? Norbert Lynton, art critic, believes they are not and suggests that Malevich and Mondrian reached abstraction too, not in order to to be obscure or merely decorative, but because they wanted to communicate ideas too momentous for the, by now, threadbare traditions of history paintings to carry. Lynton talks to painter Gillian Ayers in her studio. Together they discuss the apparent simplicity and actual agility of Matisse’s ‘The Snail’ in the Tate Gallery, London.
Part 5: Arrangements of fruit, flowers, implements of various kinds and food have appeared in paintings all through the ages. Often they are only a tiny detail; sometimes they have symbolic significance: cherries for example represent the fruit of Paradise; a pomegranate, the chastity of the Virgin, the Catholic Church or the Resurrection. Painters have also used such arrangements for their own purposes - to study things such as the space between objects, shapes and the fall of light. From the 17th century onwards still life was painted and sold for its own sake. In Holland such paintings were found in many Dutch homes; in 18th-century France they were also highly prized in such artists as Chardin. Patrick Caulfield achieves subtle, almost abstract, arrangements of everyday objects which he talks about in his studio to Robert Cumming.
Part 6: Narrative and historical pictures were more highly prized than other genres up until the 19th century. Certain stories are so universal, such as the Nativity, that the subject is instantly recognisable, however varied the style or detailed the treatment. Norbert Lynton discusses three famous paintings by Botticelli, Piero della Francesca and Rembrandt in the National Gallery, London. Lynton discusses these paintings with Dennis Creffield, a painter who himself is very interested in the problems of a contemporary tackling such a well-known theme.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Medium
Video; Videocassette. Standard formats. col. 6 x 25 min.
Year of production
1985
Availability
OUT OF DISTRIBUTION
Uses
Students of the visual arts.*
Keywords
paintings

Credits

Cast
Alistair Smith 
Norbert Lynton 
Robert Cumming 

Sections

Title
Meanings
Synopsis
Part 1 investigates how paintings have been interpreted and re-interpreted through the ages, beginning with Leonardo's 'Mona Lisa'. Shows that we have expectations about paintings and painters based on a range of social, cultural and personal factors. The

Title
Landscape
Synopsis
Part 2: Discusses Constable's 'The Hay Wain'. Robert Cumming also talks to experts such as Reg Gadney, the biographer of Constable, Graham Reynolds, the art historian and John Bull who has restored a number of Constable's paintings. Also considers the wor

Title
Portraits
Synopsis
Part 3: Alastair Smith talks to Maggie Hamblin, who has a number of paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, including one commissioned by the gallery of the Nobel prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin. Shows Maggie Hamblin embarking on a new commission from th

Title
Abstract
Synopsis
Part 4 discusses the work of Malevich, Mondrian and Matisse. Matisse, famous for figure paintings, in his last years produced some of the most vivacious abstract works. Are they wholly different from Matisse's earlier work and contradictory to it? Norbert

Title
Still life
Synopsis
Part 5: Arrangements of fruit, flowers, implements of various kinds and food have appeared in paintings all through the ages. Often they are only a tiny detail; sometimes they have symbolic significance: cherries for example represent the fruit of Paradis

Title
Narrative2
Synopsis
Part 6: Narrative and historical pictures were more highly prized than other genres up until the 19th century. Certain stories are so universal, such as the Nativity, that the subject is instantly recognisable, however varied the style or detailed the tre

Production Company

Name

Malachite Productions

Web
http://www.malachite.co.uk/ External site opens in new window
Phone
0)1790 763538
Address
East Kirkby House Spilsby
Lincolnshire
E23 4BX
UK

Sponsor

Name

Channel Four Television

Phone
071-396 4444
Address
LONDON
SW1P 2TX
Name

Open University

Distributor

Name

Guild Sound & Vision

Notes
for management & training programmes, see Training Services Ltd

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