PBS Series Explores Power of Art Across Time and Cultures

Press Release

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 7:00pm

A new nine-part PBS series, Civilizations, tells the story of art from the dawn of human history to the present day — for the first time on a global scale. Inspired by Civilization, Kenneth Clark’s landmark 1969 acclaimed series about Western art, this bold new series reveals the role art and the creative imagination have played in the forging of humanity itself, and introduces a new generation to works of beauty, ingenuity, and illumination created across cultures and continents.

The series premieres Tuesday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. on KUED. From the landscape scrolls of classical China to African bronzes, Japanese prints, and French Impressionist paintings, Civilizations will explore the wealth of treasures created by cultures around the globe. The principal contributors of the films are art historian and Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University New York, Simon Schama; Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge; and British-Nigerian historian and writer David Olusoga. 

In nine episodes, Civilizations travels across the globe, visiting such cultural landmarks as the great mosques of Istanbul, the ancient cities of Mesoamerica, the Buddhist caves of Ajanta in India, and the funeral site of China’s first emperor. Civilizations explores a sweeping range of topics, including the earliest human cultural artifacts and the representation of the body in art, what happens when different civilizations encounter each other, and the nature of “renaissances” around the world. 

“This sweeping, visually stunning series follows the thread of creativity through centuries, weaving art and culture, history and humanity,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President, Programming and Development, PBS. “The cultural connections Civilizations makes reveal that artistic expression has been a powerful and enlightening force since the beginning of humankind.”

Using the latest film technology, Civilizations is filmed on six continents: Africa, Asia, Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, and neighboring islands in the South Pacific Ocean), Europe, and North and South America. State-of-the-art drone and camera movement technology, as well as macro photography, allow viewers to immerse themselves in the extraordinary locations and see the world’s treasures in new ways, that celebrate detail, craftsmanship and artistry as never before.

From the stained glass windows of Chartres cathedral to Matisse’s cardboard cut-outs, from the great dome of the Suleymaniye mosque to the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, from Hokusai’s Wave to Monet’s Rouen cathedral series, Civilizations goes inside some of the world’s greatest museums, historic locations, cathedrals, and mosques to provide viewers special access to priceless works of art and architecture.


Last modified: 
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 10:37am

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