“State of the Art”

Channel Four Television

Television series that offer an extended view of art and culture are rare. Over the past twenty years there have been three: Kenneth Clark’s “Civilization,” John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing,” and Robert Hughes’ “Shock of the New.” Now we have “State of the Art,” six hour-long programs commissioned by Channel Four from writer Sandy Naime, producer/director Geoff Dunlop, and series producer John Wyver. It is inevitable that comparisons would be made between old and new, and it is evident that the series was, from the outset, conceived in opposition to the authorial style of its predecessors. Here, instead of seeing a single individual speaking directly to the cameras, one hears the script, which consists of a mixture of fact and quotation rather than opinion, in a voice-over recorded by a quartet of actors. Where talking heads do occur, they belong to artists, dealers, critics, and other

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