The Art of Spain – The Moorish Roots

Posted filed underDocumentaries, Islam, Spain, Videos.


Art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon travels from southern to northern Spain to tell the story of some of Europe’s most exciting and vital art.

Travelling from the unique Muslim contribution in the medieval south, through the golden age of El Greco and Velasquez in the heart of Spain, to the modern art of Picasso and Dali in the north, the three 60-minute programmes will tell the story of some of Europe’s most exiting and vital art.

Presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon will immerse himself in true Spanish culture and meet the people who live and work with this artistic legacy.

This is a story that is central to European history.

Andrew Graham-Dixon said: “Spain is the place where the art and religions of east and west collided and where the nature of European culture and civilisation was decided.”

Basil Comely, Acting BBC Vision Studio Head, Arts, said: “We’ve made so many films about Italian art this series feels long overdue.

“And it’s been an amazing journey of discovery – to find a story that is both more dramatic and surprising than anything Florence, Rome and Sienna have to offer.”

The Moorish South

In an exploration of Moorish Spain, he looks at Muslim political and cultural influence as he travels from Cordoba to Granada, seeing classic buildings such as the Great Mosque in Cordoba, the Alcazar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada. He also shows how the Moors introduced new foods – including citrus fruits, coffee and spices – to Spain.

The Dark Heart

Graham-Dixon journeys to the country’s scorched centre to explore Spanish art of the 16th and 17th centuries. From the mystical world of El Greco to the tender genius of Velazquez, this was a moment so extraordinary it became known as the Golden Age. But beneath the glittering surface was a dark and savage heart. Travelling from the architectural jewel of Toledo to majestic Madrid, Andrew Graham-Dixon traces the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire, the brutal conquest of the New World, and the religious madness of the Inquisition, to discover how a history so violent could produce some of the most beautiful art ever seen.

The Mystical North

In the final part, Graham-Dixon reveals how the north of the country has produced some of the most dazzling and iconic art of the modern age. Spain’s turbulent history has shaped artists from Francisco Goya to Pablo Picasso. Graham-Dixon argues that Spanish architecture is the art form now taking the nation forward in the new millennium.


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