Civilisations: How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith : As seen on TV
by Mary Beard
Editor: Profile Books Ltd
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Companion for the main short stories of the BBC CIVILISATIONS documentary series, presented by Marie Barbe, David Olusoga and Simon Schama The idea of “civilization” has always been debated, even when fought against.At the heart of these debates is the great question of how people – from prehistoric times to the present day – have represented themselves and others, both human and divine.Eminent historian Marie Barbe examines how art has shaped and shaped by the people who created it.How did we look at these imagesWhy were they sometimes so controversialIn Part I, she examines how the human figure has been portrayed in some of the oldest art in the world – from the gigantic stone heads carved by Central American Olmecs for statues and potteries from ancient Greece to the terracotta army of China’s first emperor.And it explains how a particular version of representing the human body, which dates back to antiquity, always influences (and sometimes distorts) the way people in the West see their own culture and that of others.Throughout this history, she is interested not only in the artist who made the images, but with those who used, considered and interpreted them.In other words: How do we look at ourselvesIn Part Two, Marie Barbe turns to the relationship between art and religionFor centuries, religion has been inspired by art: from the Hindu temple at Angkor Wat for the Christian mosaics of Ravenna to the exquisite Islamic calligraphy of the mosques.But by making the divine visible in the world of humans has never been simpleAll religions have struggled with idolatry and iconoclasm, the destruction of art, as well as creation itself – and wonder how to look with the Eyes of Faith.
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