Friday, April 10, 2015


OUR TV/radio celebrity art historian friend Alastair Sooke has taken on the Ancient Romans, the Ancient Egyptians and even the Devil ... now he is tackling the Ancient Greeks.

In the new BBC three-part documentary series TREASURES OF ANCIENT GREECE, which premiered this week, Sooke (Treasures Of Ancient Rome, Pride and Prejudice: Having A Ball) explores the riches and unique legacy of Greek art.  

Although still only in his early 30s (and let's face it, he looks even younger), the suave Alastair Sooke has already assembled a palette of over a dozen art history programmes. So it's perhaps surprising it has taken him this long to reach the source of all modern Western art: the ancient Greeks, who set the benchmarks for aesthetics and realism in Europe. 

He interviewed our own Priest Hernestus (photo below) for a segment on Antinous in the BBC series TREASURES OF ANCIENT ROME which has been syndicated around the world since its premiere in the UK in 2012.

Now it is the Greeks who come in for his scrutiny in this three-part documentary series. 

Episode One tells the story of Greek art from its surprising, often mysterious origins, travelling from Crete to Santorini, Mycenae to Delphi.  

Episode Two explores the astonishing development of classical art - the so called "Greek revolution", asking how did the ancient Greeks get so good, so fast?  

The final instalment looks in detail at a handful of works that have achieved the status of masterpieces, tracing the complex and fascinating story of Western civilisation's love affair with Greek art, from the Romans to modern times.

Sooke eloquently challenges ideas about the origins of the classical style, tracing its roots eastwards to Egypt and Babylon. 

He shows how early decorations, with their dense marching bands of geometric patterns, gave way to depictions of mythological creatures and the human form, as gorgons, Minotaurs, Cyclopses and Spartan warriors began to sculpt Greek identity.

Sooke explores the riches and unique legacy of Greek art, telling the story of its mysterious origins as he starts his journey at the palace of Knossos in Crete. 

He then travels to Santorini and finds gold in the fabled stronghold of Mycenae, and uncovers the beginnings of a defining spirit in Greek art ... embracing mythology, a passion for symmetry, and an obsession with the human body.

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