Friday, 27 January 2017

The Art Of France: Plus Ça Change

Andrew Graham-Dixon is our magnifique art guide

Written by Ben Felsenburg
This Brexit business means a heaving in-tray for our estimable PM and her team, and I’m loath to add to their burden, but I’d like to suggest that ‘being nice to the French’ Ben-Felsenburg-colour-176should be added high up on their to-do list.

In The Art Of France: Plus Ça Change (BBC4, Monday, 9pm) Andrew Graham-Dixon does a splendid job of reminding us just what a debt we owe to our friends across the Channel. He begins in the beguiling Dordogne, strolling through a timeless bucolic scene and observing, ‘on a sunny day it is easy to believe that this nation is and always will be an earthly paradise.’

Then, just as you’re settling down for a safely predictable picture-book tour of France’s great cultural riches, we’re wrenched emphatically to the present day and the tense, urban vista of the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis. There, not far from the scene of a shoot-out between police and terrorists in 2015, is the basilica that marks the last resting place of the kings and queens of France going back some 1,500 years. And so we’re plunged into Graham-Dixon’s provocative and compelling thoughts, as he unpicks the contradictions and wonders of a country that has reached to the heavens with the towering cathedrals of the Gothic age but also birthed bloody revolution, and repeatedly torn up the rule book of art while still being hemmed in by the strictures of a dementedly bureaucratic cultural establishment.

Altogether, c’est magnifique.




NOT TO BE MISSED...

tvcomp

GEORGE III: The Genius Of The Mad King BBC2, Mon, 9pm
Robert Hardman makes the case for George III, drawing on unpublished papers to reveal the true story.

THE GREAT POTTERY THROW DOWN BBC2, Thurs, 9pm
Ten potters get in a spin as they compete for the title, with judges Kate Malone and weepy Keith Brymer Jones joining Sara Cox.

EUROVISION: YOU DECIDE BBC2, Fri, 7.30pm
Mel Giedroyc is our compere as six acts vie for the public vote to sing for Britain in Eurovision, to be held in Ukraine in May.


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