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Great Artists in their own Words

Great Artists in their own Words

Wed May 8, 9-10pm, BBC4

By Chris Waywell
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Series one, episode one
Pablo Picasso bought a TV to watch the marriage of Princess Margaret. This gem is probably worth the price of admission on its own here, because otherwise this trawl of the archives is rather workaday, with little in the way of mood-brighteners.

The problem is one of history. By the time these artists who were at their most incisive from 1900 to 1939 were appearing on TV, they were old men. In the ’60s, TV interviews were conducted by old men: they had the requisite authority for this culturally suspect medium. So: a lot of old men. And Joan Bakewell.

She tackles Marcel Duchamp with aplomb. Malcolm Muggeridge can’t think of anything to ask Salvador Dalí apart from what happens to his moustache overnight. Future episodes should be more fluid, though a three-part series how art has been presented on TV through the decades could be great.

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