Modern Masters

Ratings: 8.50/10 from 28 users.


Modern MastersModern Masters is a four-part television series detailing the life and work of four giants of 20th century art: Henri Matisse; Pablo Picasso; Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.

During the course of the series, presenter and journalist, Alastair Sooke, explores why these artists are considered so important and examines how their influence can still be seen in our world today.

He begins with Andy Warhol, the king of Pop Art. On his journey he parties with Dennis Hopper, has a brush with Carla Bruni and gets to grips with Marilyn. Along the way he uncovers just how brilliantly Andy Warhol pinpointed and portrayed our obsessions with consumerism, celebrity and the media, and then went on to re-invent them.

Journalist Alastair Sooke sets out to discover just how much the artist Henri Matisse has influenced our modern lives. Sooke explains why Matisse's art is considered so great and also looks at how Matisse's brilliant use of color and simplification of form continues to inspire illustrators, designers and of course artists today.

The life of Pablo Picasso is an exciting story of rebellion, riches, women and great art. In this episode, journalist Alastair Sooke travels through France, Spain and the US to see some of the artist's great works and recount tales from his life story.

Salvador Dali was art's greatest clown, but was he also one of its great geniuses? Sooke traces the life and work of the popular surrealist artist, traveling throughout Europe and America. From his origins in turn-of-the-century Spain, to his high jinx in New York in the 1970s, Sook reveals this artist's fascinating life story and explains the thinking behind and impact of his most famous works.

More great documentaries

28 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Anthony Williams

    Modern art really marked a transition towards the Commodification of art.
    I guess that we are still stuck in that rut of sensationalist post modern art that is really intended for consumption. Of course the only avenue of change open is the decommodification of art but there are few artist's with the skill to create art that is desirable whilst not being a commodity, Andy Goldsworthy is a fairly good example of that idea.

    I'm not trying to knock modern art I was obsessed with it at school I remember obsessively drawing engineering drawings of rifle and gun components in pop art style. I basically boiled away all the nice commercial aspect of pop art of Lichtenstein etc. and targeted what I saw as the ultimate commodity which of course was a bullet. Its an object of desire, almost religious obsession, (just look at american gun culture films etc~) it is cheap which means you can obtain it and yet offers the owner the prospect of supreme power. I forget the golden rule of art though which is not to remind people there going to die :/ - You have to get famous first then you can be morbid...

    But has it ever been any different? who where the renaissance artists working for? they may have coded subversive ideas and pursued forward looking enlightened interest but they where still commissioned and working for the ruling classes. Andy was actually different though, he really taped into that subconscious aspect of our inner souls that endears us to objects, associating himself masterfully with the objects of corporate manufactures was Genius, he discovered the secret of the commodity, the fetish.

  2. Imightberiding

    @ Anthony Williams
    Alas, documenting through photography, compiling & printing a lovely coffee table book (a gift from a friend several years ago) has made Andy Goldsworthy's works both accessible & I guess one might say a commodity. A visually stunning publication non the less with images captured in that moment between completion & rendering back into the landscape by the forces of nature ... readily available to anyone with about $50.
    @ Vlatko
    Thanks for this one. I very much enjoy the knowledge packed science docs but this offering of these 4 contemporary geniuses who forever changed both the perception & reality of what is art, is to me an absolute pleasure & time well spent.

  3. Imightberiding

    I was hoping to see more video of Dali creating bizarre photo ops of himself. Particularly emerging from a subway on a busy sidewalk with his infamous pet ant eater on a leash. Or perhaps taking a couple lobsters for a walk, again on leashes.

    Thanks again for taking the time & effort to make this series available Vlatko. I found it thoroughly interesting as well as entertaining. So many memories & things forgotten about these Artists when I was much younger, pretending toward the avant-garde & gobbling up all things modern art that I was reminded of through this 4 part doc.

  4. Jon Hanlan

    @Shafid Ahmed , is Ratatat music? Is deadmau5 music? Sure it is. Is it fair to not consider Warhol's work as a legitimate art? No. For some reason we are so quick to judge art. That is good, but it is unfair judgment that upsets me. We are so inclined to make things neat in our minds. THIS IS A COMPUTER. THIS IS A MAN. Blah,blah. As soon as you open up to other alternatives of what art may look like, Warhol does seem more accessible to look at and take more seriously. I agree that 'art' needs some guidelines to follow for it to be considered 'good', or does it? I mean, many people hate rap. Is it fair to not let it be called music in that case? And the second comment : I am going to agree on the art critic statement to a certain extent. It's like talking about your dog, or any loved one for that matter. We tend to emphasize their great qualities, and get a tad bit delusional maybe. These critics already have in mind that Warhol is considered a master; therefore, it restricts the liability of them doing their job. Who knows. With the materialistic aspect, I disagree. The whole art market and achieving new pieces to your collection is materialistic, but can be in a moderate sense. Like Wal-Mart, childrens toys, etc. It can all be done with moderation and SHOULD. You need things to make new things. The ways of the universe my friend.

  5. Atli Þórðarson

    Excellent series!

  6. Shafiq Ahmed

    Innovative ideas which attract people do deserve respect no matter how many people dislike it. I am a great admirer of those who think OUT OF THE BOX. I agree with you in this respect but what I did not like in this documentary was EXAGGERATION. Some thing which may not attract the attention of a common person like me, cannot be made great or out of the world just by standing in front of it and saying heavy words or fabricating complex sentences to make that thing look awesome. One might be able to succeed in diverting attention by doing this but I am afraid the majority (common people) will still be saying, IT IS JUST OK MR. CRITIC.
    Abstract art was once very modern as well and people still love it and I like it as well. It needs skill, thoughts and tremendous concentration to do abstract. I am listening to deadmau5 right now, its good. I suggest you listen to ''tumai dillagi by nustrat'' on youtube and let me know what do you think about it?

  7. Anthony Pirtle

    Why would coke bottles and tomato soup cans not be legitimate subjects for art? Can you give a reason?

  8. Shafiq Ahmed

    I didn't say coke bottles and tomato soup cans cannot be legitimate subjects of art. Yes, its new, its good but its NOT GREAT and the guy was exaggerating it to the level of A MASTER PIECE and I did not like that.

  9. CherryBombpop

    The reason Warhol's coke bottles and lurid Marilyns are masterpieces is the reason any great work of modern art is. It's not how accurately the item is painted, it's the idea behind it. It's the artist's commentary on the world he perceives; it's his voice. A great modern artist is an observer of the world, a thinker, someone with something to say. Warhol may have demurred when asked directly about the meaning of his work, but we can all clearly see he had a distinct point of view. The job of the modern artist (if there is one) is not to represent items, although they do - or to decorate a home, although they do - it's to make you feel something, to make you think something, to give you a change in perception. To make you look at things in a new way. I won't speak to the skill involved in seemingly simple shapes and assemblies, no one seems to be arguing that. Open your mind to what the artist is trying to tell you. See what it makes you feel. That's where the genius lies in most of Warhol's work, and it's how you should look at any art, pretty or not. Art should absolutely be a commentary on society, and it's what Andy was doing with his work.

  10. Josh Delarosa

    To all the no name art dropout trolls on here: you need to stop acting like people like Worhol didn't change the world. just because everyone with photo shop and a inflated ego can do the same type work now, did not mean it was not revolutionary back then, that's like saying apple is cr@p because your phone has 10,000 times the power those first computers had. If you spent less time trolling the great masters of our time and more time working on your technique, maybe some pimple face troll would be writing about you for a change.

  11. Josh Delarosa

    In art every idea, thought, word, object, symbol ect... is a "legitimate" subject. furthermore, art is not to be described as "legitimate" art is everything, nothing and everything in between. If art speaks to everyone or no one it is still art. you can not bottle it, you can not subjugate it to words or stereotypes it its timeless an NOT to be fully understood by no one. Find what you like what speaks to you and focus on that.

  12. knowledgeizpower

    Wow I liked your comment. That was Refreshing if art apeaks to everyone or no one it is still art. I guess it is fair to say Beauty is really in the eye of the beholder. I watched this one last week sometime before Thanksgiving Holiday did not get a chance to comment...But I definitely Enjoyed......Peace To You :)

  13. Guest

    I finally got to watch the Dali section which was a real pleasure since in 1994 i traveled La Costa Brava to follow in his step and visited Cadaques and Figueres. That museum is the most amazing house of art i have ever visited in my life(in my taste).
    One of the many paintings that are memorable is his representation of Tristan and Isolde inspired by the Angelus of Jean Francois Millet. The small size of the painting and the details and perhaps the fact that i had read the legend soon before not knowing Dali had represented it facinated me.
    Dali is legendary!

  14. Tilen Rupar

    Aaa just started wathing the Warhol and Dali parts and next day the videos aren't working any more... Great docs, tels a lot about modern society.

  15. BogdanH

    Andy Warhol is not modernist. He is postmodernist artist.

  16. Angelica

    Andy Warhol was a pioneer but in my opinion he as an "artist" is way overrated

  17. Angelica

    in some art , the ideas and feelings are strong ! but the painter itself could have been talent less , now fools praise em as GENIUSES

  18. Angelica

    at least Picasso proved he actually knew how to really paint :) i admire him and Dali was really a master too , Warhol and Matisse not so much the guy on the documentary exaggerates them SO much, pioneers yes! MASTERS? nein!

  19. Hillary Dirb

    I wonder how you can compare Picasso, Dali, Warhol, and Matisse together in terms of them "knowing how to paint" when their styles were so largely different from each other. You do know that there is more than one way to paint? (and thank goodness for that because if not, the art world would fast become a monotonous thing) I ask you to reflect on how each of these artists were masters of their own style; Picasso a master of abstracting his objects, Dali of creating a finely articulated surreal world, Matisse the master of creating a new system of relating colors, and Warhol of his exciting colors, subject matter and repetition.

  20. ThisDarkChestOfWonders

    Oh hey. The account on youtube has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement. By a couple of production agencies (satan's spawn) and a corporation (scum of all humanity. And you are NOT a person). Too bad.


    "this video is private"

  22. Shane Sumner

    WTH? If you ain't got it, don't bother me with it! Thanks for nothin'

  23. Saga Sigríðardóttir

    Just go to youtube and find it there!

  24. Corinne McConnell

    Picasso a millionaire communist... Inherent paradox?

  25. PruningProust

    Matisse's works may be simplistic at first glance, but they are full
    of emotions. Warhol's, on the other hand, typifies many American "arts": literal, unimaginative, commercialized.

  26. Erjan Aisabay

    Thank you very much for the series. When I watched the Matisse episode, I almost cried. it was very powerful, especially the church scene. Interestingly, the phrase 'whether he believed in God' from the jazz book caught my attention. I had immediately posted the quote on my facebook, and then heard it towards the end of the episode..
    “Si je crois en Dieu? Oui, quand je travaille. Quand je suis soumis et modeste, je me sens tellement aidé par quelqu'un qui me fait faire des choses qui me surpassent.”

  27. erte4wt4etrg

    Yeah right Andy Warhol, a real master haha. If he heralded our 'consumer led, celebrity driven world' why should he be celebrated for that

  28. redstudio

    Warhol is completely an artist, his work is a comment on how f***ed up and commercial our world is, "you want consumer garbage? Here it is, and I made it pretty for you"

Leave a comment / review: