British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

State of the Art: Ideas and Images in the 1980s

Synopsis
A series of six authoritative and challenging documentaries about the visual arts in the 1980s. Filmed in Europe, the United States and Australia in 1985-6, the six programmes feature many key artists including Joseph Beuys, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Antony Gormley, Hans Haacke and Eric Fischl. Framing the works and concerns of these artists is the intellectual context of the time, and especially the contemporary concerns of post-modernism. Each film adopts a thematic approach, with episodes looking at History, Value, Imagination, Politics, Sexuality and Identity. The argument of each programme develops through juxtaposition and comparison, with a complex interplay of image and sound, rather than didactic commentary.

DVD extras on this 20th anniversary DVD edition include a specially filmed interview with the writer of the series, Sandy Nairne, now Director of London’s National Portrait Gallery. He considers the unique documentary approaches that the series developed to present art on the screen, and reflects on the controversy that the series provoked. A picture gallery of key images is also included.


1: Begins in the post-modern world and examines the work of four artists who look to the past to make sense of the present and the future. Presents the post-war capitalisation of communications technology as a primary focus for the self-understanding and criticial perception of artists. Three European history painters (the Italian neo-classicist Carlo Maria Mariani and the German allegorists Jorg Immendorff and Anselm Keifer) and American installation artist and dream-collator Jonathan Borofsky, discuss the responsibilities of the artist in relation toto the post-war Western experience of modernity.
2: Considers five places in which ‘validation and valuation’ occur: the private gallery, the private collection, the public museum, the art magazine and the public site. How is critical evaluation arrived at and what are the economic interests that underpin it? Interviews with dealers Michael Werner and Mary Boone, the director of the Deutsche Bank’s collection, Dr Zapp, the producer of the American soap operas DALLAS and THE COLBYS, and collector Douglas S Kramer give an insight into art as a paranational industry and an increasingly consumerist source of social value. The second section looks at the part big museums play in the ratification and extensions of this process and includes an interview with Richard Koshalek, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Ends with interviews with various art critics on the role of criticism.
3: Investigating the linked themes of work, creativity and imagination, explores the process of creativity with five artists working in distinct and very different ways. The status and process of artistic production is variously contrasted in interviews with Joseph Beuys (Federal Republic of Germany), Anthony Gormley (UK), Miriam Khan (Switzerland), Howard Hodgkin (UK), and Susan Hiller (UK).
4: Explores how artists can create alternatives to the conventional images of women and men in fashion, magazines and the media. In this instance the circulation of images of women as desired objects. Includes interviews with Cindy Sherman (USA), Alexis Hunter (UK), Eric Fisci (USA), Mary Kelly (UK) and Barbara Kruger (USA).
5: The work of each of the artists in this programme has an explicit dimension. The monumental paintings of Leon Golub (USA) portray scenes of contemporary violence and torture. The work of Hans Haacke (USA) is an investigation of power structures within and beyond the art world. Peter Dunn and Loraine Leeson (UK) are involved in community photography in London’s Docklands. Victor Burgin (UK) is concerned with male sexuality and sees his activities as a writer and teacher as an extension of his practice as an artist. The painter Terry Atkinson explores the themes of Northern Ireland and nuclear warfare.
6: Looks at the centre/periphery debate in relation to cultural identity. Examines at Australian art where white Australian artists feel marginalised in relation to Europe and the USA and where Aboriginal culture stands as a marginal and oppressed relation to the Aboriginal settler culture. There are interviews with Terry Smith on the 1986 Sydney Biennale, Thomas McEvilly on the question of culture diffusion, the Aboriginal painter Michael Nelson Tjakamarra on his painting ‘Possum Dreaming’, and the Australian artists Imants Tillers on the virtues of working to a small canvas. Discusses the emergence of black art in Britain and includes interviews with Lubaina Himid, Donald Rodney, Sonia Boyce and Sutapa Biswas. Looks at the pitfalls of being absorbed into the art market as exotic spectacle, as in the media collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michael Basquiat in the USA.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
2006
Year of production
1986
Notes
Broadcast on Channel 4 in 6 parts, beginning 11/1/1987
Subjects
Art
Keywords
art - modern art; history of art

Credits

Director
Geoff Dunlop
Producer
Geoff Dunlop; John Wyver
Writer
Sandy Nairne

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 0 PAL
Price
£39.99
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
320 minutes
Year
2011

Sections

Title
History
Synopsis
1: Begins in the post-modern world and examines the work of four artists who look to the past to make sense of the present and the future. Presents the post-war capitalisation of communications technology as a primary focus for the self-understanding and

Title
Value
Synopsis
2: Considers five places in which 'validation and valuation' occur: the private gallery, the private collection, the public museum, the art magazine and the public site. How is critical evaluation arrived at and what are the economic interests that underp

Title
Imagination
Synopsis
3: Investigating the linked themes of work, creativity and imagination, explores the process of creativity with five artists working in distinct and very different ways. The status and process of artistic production is variously contrasted in interviews w

Title
Sexuality
Synopsis
4: Explores how artists can create alternatives to the conventional images of women and men in fashion, magazines and the media. In this instance the circulation of images of women as desired objects. Includes interviews with Cindy Sherman (USA), Alexis H

Title
Politics
Synopsis
5: The work of each of the artists in this programme has an explicit dimension. The monumental paintings of Leon Golub (USA) portray scenes of contemporary violence and torture. The work of Hans Haacke (USA) is an investigation of power structures within

Title
Identity
Synopsis
6: Looks at the centre/periphery debate in relation to cultural identity. Examines at Australian art where white Australian artists feel marginalised in relation to Europe and the USA and where Aboriginal culture stands as a marginal and oppressed relatio

Sponsor

Name

Channel Four Television

Phone
071-396 4444
Address
LONDON
SW1P 2TX

Distributor

Name

Illuminations

Email
louise@illuminationsmedia.co.uk
Web
http://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7288 8400
Fax
020 7288 8488
Address
19-20 Rheidol Mews
Rheidol Terrace
Islington
London
N1 8NU
Notes
Illuminations produces and distributes programmes on arts-related subjects, some of which are made for television and others in conjunction with cultural institutions to accompany specific exhibitions. Many titles are available for sale on DVD, including continuing series on leading contemporary and twentieth century artists and modern architecture, as well as a few programmes on religion, drama, history and ideas.
 

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