The Alhambra, Granada: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture (26:01)The Alhambra is a palace—or rather a group of two palaces—built for two consecutive 14th century caliphs, Yusuf 1st (1333-1353) and Mohammed V (1353-1391). The two palaces are hemmed into an older fortress (10th century), crowning a 700 meter-long rocky peak. Here, refinement is everywhere—the porcelain mosaics on the floor, the plasterwork sculpted on the walls, the woodwork sculpted and painted on the ceiling-—everything is set out in geometric, floral, or epigraphic patterns. Overall this produces a complex yet harmonious decor. Understanding this division of space, means understanding an architecture that develops from the inside, and not from the facade, an architecture that uses geometry to hide the plan and not to display it.
The Caves of Altamira (26:29)The 20,000-year-old caves of Altamira are among the greatest and the least known of the monuments of prehistory. Closed to visitors to prevent disintegration through pollution, the caves are known only through a replica located in the Archaeological Museum in Madrid. This tour of Altamira shows the cave paintings in their extraordinary power as they depict the daily life of Magdalenian people seeking to bend animal life to their will, while themselves at the mercy of magical powers they sought to placate. The camera is able to clarify what the naked eye cannot—the artistic relationship between the caves themselves and the art with which these proto-Spaniards decorated them.
The Dark Heart: 16th- and 17th-Century Spanish Art (50:33)Art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon continues his travels from southern to northern Spain, revealing a stunning and informative array of artworks. In Toledo, El Greco’s mystical style is studied; at the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe, Zurbarán’s stark yet sensuous monk portraits come to light. And in Madrid, viewers discover the greatness of Velázquez, who rejected religious subject matter and instead held a mirror up to a crumbling empire. The Escorial, Ávila, and Trujillo are also visited.
El Greco: Rediscovering a Master (55:12)Spurned and then nearly forgotten, El Greco went on to be hailed as one of Spain’s greatest painters. This program describes the life of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, nicknamed "El Greco," and how his artistic legacy was rescued by a group of young Modernists who discovered his works in a museum in Barcelona. Emphasis is given to the revival of El Greco’s reputation in the late 19th and 20th centuries by such painters as Rusinol and Picasso. Their rediscovery not only brought a master back from obscurity but also influenced their own work, as evidenced in paintings like The Old Guitarist from Picasso’s "Blue Period."
Miro: The Catalan Master (53:54)In this program, 20th-century surrealist Joán Miró talks about his life and the various influences on his work. It features a complete selection of Miró’s masterpieces, with each piece brought to life through expert commentary. Known primarily for his abstract paintings, Miró’s other works include murals, sculptures, tapestries, and ballet sets. Such works as Catalan Landscape are best known for their humorous fantasy, which uses a restricted range of pure colors and dancing shapes to achieve the effect.
The Moorish South: Art in Muslim and Christian Spain from 711 to 1492 (51:09)Under Muslim rule, Spain became the most advanced, wealthy, and populous country in Europe, with great leaps forward in art, architecture, and many other fields. In this program, art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon travels from Córdoba to Seville and on to Granada as he tells the story of art in Islamic and medieval Spain. Richly designed and decorated buildings such as the Great Mosque in Córdoba, the Alcazar in Seville, and the Alhambra in Granada are examined, along with ornate gardens, other objects of art, and even culinary innovations. All of these striking visual examples help viewers understand the debt which both modern Spain and modern Europe owe to Moorish Spain.
The Mystical North: Spanish Art from the 19th Century to the Present (50:46)Northern Spain has produced some of the world’s most celebrated artists, including Picasso, Miró, Dalí—and Goya, who foreshadowed modern painting with his dark political consciousness. This program studies the artistic and social turmoil that engulfed Spain as the 20th century loomed, dawned, and rolled forward.
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Goya : Crazy Like a GeniusRobert Hughes explores the world of Goya and gives a very personal commentary on his paintings, charting his achievements as a court painter, satirist, and war reporter, and finally as the topographer of the inner self, madness, fear, and despair.