"Illuminating dash through the history of culture" —The Independent
"Entirely riveting" —The Observer
A globe-trotting tour of art and culture
In This Is Civilization, artist and critic Matthew Collings follows the common threads of inspiration and influence that link diverse art movements over centuries and continents. This four-part series is a contemporary update of the BBC’s landmark 1969 series Civilization, with an expanded focus on non-Western art.
Collings traces the currents of emotion, money, and politics that shaped art through the centuries as he walks the halls of London’s Tate Gallery, the temples of ancient Egypt, a munitions-factory-turned-art space in Beijing, and other locales. As Collings shows, intricate patterns on mosques exude the same unifying aesthetic found in Jackson Pollock’s paintings, and kitschy reprints of Mao Zedong echo the devotional zeal of medieval church mosaics. At the same time, cultural forces as diverse as fascism and Christianity leave their own distinctive stamps on the art of their eras.
Broadcaster, critic, and author Matthew Collings has written extensively on contemporary art and hosted television programs including This Is Modern Art and Beautiful Equations. A classically trained artist, he collaborates with his wife, Emma Biggs, on abstract paintings.