I am in love with Simon Schama. There. I’ve said it. Now, admittedly, most twenty-something women don’t drool over fifty-something men, but Simon Schama is the exception to that rule. So why am I in love? He’s wickedly funny, insanely smart, and British. He’s a professor of history and art history at Columbia, who formerly taught at Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s created two of the best DVD series I’ve watched in a long time: A History of Britain and his newest, Simon Schama’s Power of Art.
Power of Art does exactly what it says it will. Each episode focuses on a particular artist and his iconic masterpiece, from Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath to Rothko’s Black on Maroon. Schama’s narraration also captures the mood each painting evokes. The episode on Picasso’s Guernica is exceptionally powerful and Schama refuses to let us remain in happy complacency, forcing a look at the horrors of war. Schama also turns his talent towards light and breezy Baroque Italy with Bernini’s sexually charged The Ecstasy of St. Theresa. Each episode is filmed on location with actor reenactments and lovely music (Simon Schama is so talented I even noticed the background music). Schama also does a nice job of explaining the complications of history so that anyone can understand. This talent is especially seen in the episode with Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat and the politics of the French Revolution.
After watching all eight episodes over the course of two afternoons (yes, they are that addicting), Schama left me convinced that paintings and art could change the world. All that, plus a drool-worthy intelligent British guy (if only I was older and not married – darn). Now that’s a set of DVD’s worth checking out.
Check the WRL catalog for Simon Schama’s Power of Art.