Do you want to remove all your recent searches?

All recent searches will be deleted

Civilisations 8of9 The Cult of Progress

8 months ago274 views

A series which explores thousands of years of visual culture.

Part 8: The Cult of Progress
David Olusoga explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century. David shows the growing ambivalence with which artists reacted to the idea of progress – both intellectual and scientific – that underpinned the imperial mission and followed the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Advances in knowledge and technology imbued Europeans in the 19th century with a sense of their civilisation’s superiority. It justified their imperial ideology. But it created among artists a deep fascinations with other civilisations which in turn produced a scepticism about their own. By contrast, as European artists questioned their civilisation’s ‘advance’, in America painters sought to capture an idea of their new nation’s ‘manifest destiny’ in landscapes. And in their representation of the Native Americans they sought to record for posterity the world and the cultures they were violently displacing. But this was not always the case.

David shows how in New Zealand one artist was co-opted by the Maori who used his sills to record their culture and celebrate their ancestors. As the 19th Century came to an end, the certainties of industrial and scientific advance were increasingly questioned; many artists (Gauguin and Picasso amongst them) turned to non-Western art and culture for inspiration. And in the face of the catastrophic conflict of the First World War, the idea that progress, reason and industrial advance were guarantors of higher ‘civilisation’ was rejected.

David ends the film with a powerful meditation on Otto Dix’s nightmarish and ironic evocation of the horror of the trenches, the triptych Der Krieg (The War).

Report this video

Select an issue

  • Sexual content
  • Violent content
  • Defamation or Hateful content
  • Fake news story

Embed the video

Civilisations 8of9 The Cult of Progress
Autoplay
<iframe frameborder="0" width="480" height="270" src="https://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x6l6lqm" allowfullscreen allow="autoplay"></iframe>
Add the video to your site with the embed code above

Report this video

Select an issue

  • Sexual content
  • Violent content
  • Defamation or Hateful content
  • Fake news story

Embed the video

Civilisations 8of9 The Cult of Progress
Autoplay
<iframe frameborder="0" width="480" height="270" src="https://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x6l6lqm" allowfullscreen allow="autoplay"></iframe>
Add the video to your site with the embed code above