Reports state that the BBC is to to remake the series 'Civilisation' on art, architecture and philosophy, first made made by Kenneth Clark (father of Alan) in 1969.
I can't help thinking such a programme will be a lot more challenging to make - and a lot more challenged - today. Here is Phillip Hensher in the Telegraph:
The moment when a series about Western art could be described as covering “civilisation” is long gone. Quite rightly, the successor, even if limited to the highest achievements of civilisation, is going to want to talk about Benin bronzes, Mughal culture, the pinnacles of Chinese arts. There will be talk of the art of minorities, perhaps “outsider” art, and women artists will occupy a much more central place than they did for Clark.
Scholars of oriental art existed in 1969, of course; one of the perverse developments since then has been that, with the denouncing of “Orientalism” by Edward Said’s 1979 book of the same name, we are both much more aware of the importance of non-European art, but rather pathetically nervous about discussing it at all. This will have to be addressed by the makers of the series.
It is not just that Kenneth Clark is a difficult attack to follow. The number of competing interests, and interest groups, standing ready to contest space make the programme fraught with potential banana skins. Don't expect Civilisation on your television screen any time soon.