Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Good news re Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Mar

Good news for all of you who were expecting to see the next episode of Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr on Channel 5!

It will be continuing... just not yet.

Andrew Marr in the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris - in the room with Monet's 

We were all stumped when no Episode 4 appeared in the schedules or on Channel 5.

I thought it might be deferred for a week - but next week came and still no episode.

Meanwhile the traffic to my last blog post Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr was ROCKETING while everybody was looking online to see what was happening - and asking the question WHERE IS THE NEXT EPISODE?

So in the end I annotated my last post with what had NOT happened and wrote to Channel 5.

I got a response and here is the formal version
Due to Covid-19 affecting production for the full 10 parts of the series Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr, Channel 5 only intended to show the first three episodes in June 2020. The rest of the series will follow later this year" Channel 5 Spokesperson
So blame Covid-19 for the non-appearance of Episodes 4-10 - but they will be along later in the year.

I've asked Channel 5 to let me know when the dates when they plan to start broadcasting again so I can let you all know to start watching again!

Below you can:

  • read about the research behind the programme - which found that young people know very little about art history
  • view Monet's Waterlilies in the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris via
    • the museum's virtual visit
    • my video
    • my slideshow
  • read the reviews by TV Editors and one decent art critic/journalist



An interesting fact


When it commissioned this series, in which Andrew Marr tells the stories behind some of the greatest paintings in the world, Channel 5 asked YouGov to carry out an online survey of 2,000 adults to find out how much the British public knew about these artworks. Only 6 per cent of those who took part knew all ten of the paintings included in the survey. Of the respondents who could identify all the paintings, 71 per cent were over 55 and none was from Generation Z (18 to 24-year-olds), which says something about present levels of interest in art history (The Times)

I'm one of those 6% - if I had been asked - and I'm also over 55. I'm wondering if the reason why my blog post has been getting lots of hits is that my readers are maybe also a little older than most - and also recognised the works showcased at the beginning of the episodes - before I told them in the blog post?

I actually don't think it says anything about "interest in art history". I think it says an awful lot about how art is taught in schools - and the fact that for the most part, very few people get any decent education in art history.

I wonder how much bigger an audience might be given we've had three months of the big museums going all out to make their permanent collections much more accessible online.

For example - here's how you can take a virtual visit to Monet's Waterlilies in the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris

PLUS here's my VIDEO version



and my slideshow version



Reviews of the series to date


In the meantime let's take a look at the reviews to date. These are listed below.

I've got a sneaking suspicion that there's a few reviewers of this programme who are being rather "snooty". 

They need to go and read that research again. They're forgetting that this is less specialist arts journalism and rather more about making paintings accessible to the general public - and that there is a limit to how much you can into one programme when that's the broad scope of the programme. For every reviewer who snipes "banal" I'm inclined to ask when was the last time you made that painting accessible to the wider world?

Arguing against myself, only one is a "name" in ART journalism - the rest are generalists re. "the arts" - and she's the only one who has written a decent review.
Andrew Marr began his series on great artworks with the Mona Lisa, but could not fully explain its enduring appeal
Not all arts programming can be for those already acquainted with the basics. To make it so would be to deny a whole section of society an entryway to a fascinating world. But when it comes to the Mona Lisa, you would expect a nugget of fresh information or even a revision of the painting’s legendary status. It might not be politics Marr is concerned with here, but this programme could have done with a dose of his inquisitiveness.
Those who know something about the subject won’t have found much enlightenment, and those who know little will not have learned enough. Still, it was a thrill just to look at the Mona Lisa without the crowds, and to stroll through sunny Florence. And what carried us through was Marr’s fandom, and his passionate attachment and admiration of his subject.


Great Paintings Of The World With Andrew Marr allowed him to get up close to the greatest and most valuable masterpieces and find out the stories behind them.

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