The Art of Russia
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The Art of Russia

Ratings: 7.97/10 from 36 users.

The Art of RussiaSeries in which art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the incredible story of Russian art - its mystery and magnificence - and until now a story untold on British television.

He explores the origins of the Russian icon from its roots in Byzantium and the first great Russian icon, Our Lady of Vladimir to the masterpieces of the country's most famous icon painter, Andrei Rublev.

Both epic and awe-inspiring, and producing brilliant art, nevertheless medieval Russia could be a terrifying place.

Out of the Forest. Criss-crossing the epic landscape, Andrew visits the monastery founded by Ivan the Terrible, where his favorite forms of torture found inspiration in religious art. One man would shine a light into Russia's dark ages - Peter the Great who, surprisingly, took as his inspiration Deptford in South London.

Roads to Revolution. He explores how Russia changed from a feudal nation of aristocratic excess to a hotbed of revolution at the beginning of the 20th century and how art moved from being a servant of the state to an agent of its destruction.

Smashing the Mould. The final part examines political revolution and how art was at the forefront of throwing out 1,000 years of royal rule, from its earliest revolutionary days of enthusiasm and optimism when painting died, the poster was king and the machine-made triumphed over the handmade to the dead hand of Socialist Realism.

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34 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Michelle Erickson

    I love this guy excellent

  2. Emilija Tocinovska

    Great documentary

  3. Milos

    Great documentary.
    It would be nice to find music used in it. :)

  4. satyros

    Great documentary,but I wish the presenting Englishman would stop acting
    so dramatically astonished every second sentence.I find it quite
    pretentious and annoying.Other than that,great work.

  5. Malachi Simonyan

    Nicholas Nikoghosyan!

  6. Clayton Clark

    Outstanding documentary made comical thanks to the truly daffy computer-generated captioning designed to befuddle the hearing impaired. ("...Heaven bending to earth" prints out as "President Clinton," and the gibberish generated by the accidental Russian-to-English translations could provide the sequel to Finegan's Wake.)

  7. oddsrhuge

    This site offers a lot of angles and allows discussion. Apparently you have to be aware that certain words are bleeped these days.... which, kinda torqued me a little bit. However, as long as you are not abusive or completely in the wrong head space; this site offers up some of the finest documentaries that you will ever see.... And yes, Virginia, even comment on,

    Most of these GREAT documentaries, will never be aired on what we consider the "news" programmes... be careful...your paradigm, may shift.

    Cheers, Vlatko

  8. oddsrhuge

    I WAS joking....btw. I guess my humour takes an evil bent sometimes....Mwah-ha-ha! (evil laugh, as seen in many movie descriptions)

  9. Winston Smith

    awesome doc~!!

  10. Dmitriy Fedotov

    At least, the author was able to grasp the idea of the enigmatic Russian soul, especially concerning icons unlike some of his collegues at BBC

  11. Guest

    Absolutely love the Madonna and sweet baby j paintings, you don't need to be religious to appreciate the love between a mother and her child. Its always the same everywhere. (dads too!)

  12. Jack1952

    Great stuff. I have been using some of the paintings of the Wanderers as my screen-savers for quite a while including the two paintings by Repin discussed in this doc. I liked how they blended the history of Russia with the corresponding art. Really enjoyed all three episodes.

  13. sandz

    Thanks for this Vlatko. I am going to enjoy it! The History Cold Case documentary is also fascinating.

  14. LawofOne


    1. LawofOne

      .... and this cyber community with the exception of some people

  15. StillRV

    Thanks @Vlatko And I always have appreciated the work you put in here. What are your thoughts on this doc. I forget which nation you hail from but if I recall it is an eastern block country. So this art is close to home for you. Or at least represented more heavily where you are than in the west. I personally love the style and feel that the influence of the east and west found a wonderful blending throughout Russia the Ukraine and surrounding nations. The Kremlin is my favorite structure on the earth. That includes the taj mahal Ankor wat etc etc.

    1. alans

      There is no such thing as eastern bloc country. Its all in your imagination.

    2. StillRV

      It is just a term. Generally meaning countries East of Poland.

  16. Pangaea

    sounds like you need a hand vlatko .. theres are a ton of good docus out there that ive not seen listed here, also a seminar and lecture category might be worth a trial.
    Regarding the fact that your only one person, might I suggest you, I or whoever create a forum.. somewhere on the forum might be a section whereby people post docus.. the next stage will be with the mods to check the suitability of each docu, then either get or make a graphic cover, and write up for it.. get it ready, or prepare it for you to easily upload/list on this main site with the piece of mind that its been pre-checked for suitability, quality, legal status... whatever. Regarding the deadlinks im sure I could start going thru them all (tho in my own time) then post/mail you the list. Sure you have many listed but not so much that its an impossible task, even for one person.

    Im an avid learner of all things, so do scour the web for this sort of stuff alot, your site is wonderful, and its certainly my first stop.. yet there are other sites cropping up that are offering more, or at the very least differing material to whats on here. I would much like to see TDF be not just a hub for general docus, but categories focusing on more advanced education too.

    All that said..
    Top Job, with Top Docu Films

    1. Vlatko

      @Pangaea, @Epicurus

      The documentary material is never in shortage. People are suggesting lot of stuff over email. Also they're pointing out the broken docs.

      However posting documentaries is kind of tricky, not so difficult (for me) but it can be time consuming if you're not "trained". An image, video and text. TDF had 2 contributors in the past. They've posted several documentaries and they gave up.

      For a beginner it can take 30-min to one hour to prepare the doc for posting. People would not spend 2 hours of their time, every day, for a prolonged period of time, unless they're paid to do it... and I understand that.

      So... I'll keep on going like this, and who knows, in near future I may hire someone to help me.

      But we're getting off topic.

    2. Pangaea

      ah ok.. i see :)

      tho you did give me the impression you where doing this alone with no help and struggling with it...
      Had no idea folks were emailing you suggestions and dead links.
      Anyway, im still prepared to help out in anyway I can if you do conciser making impoverishments, or forum in the future..etc
      Dont hesitate to ask for help if your struggling to keep on top of it all :) ... I dont know about anyone else, but paying me for the help is totaly unnecessary, in fact I would refuse any financial reward outright.

      Sorry bout the off-topicness, Im done now

      PS. Just got done watching the last part of this docu, wonderful stuff, and of course even better in HD ;)

  17. oddsrhuge

    I will no longer comment here. The moderators have finally arrived in force. Good luck to all.

    1. Vlatko


      Who? The moderators? Damn.

    2. Yavanna

      Shame - I`ve never actually seen you comment I`m guessing you randomly insert swear words into your comments. Vlatko has no truck with you insane tourettes types! Begone fiend!

    3. His Forever

      That's not very fair to the moderators. They should be able to voice their opinions openly too. I visited one other documentary site and the comments were so utterly volger (sp?) and uncentured, it was terrible. I didn't even comment there. Wish you'd stay.

    4. Vlatko


      I think @oddsr was only joking. He is one of the regulars.

    5. His Forever

      Vlatko: My bad. I thought he was serious which puzzled me a bit. I've cut way back on reading every single comment on every single thread like I used to try and do. LOL. I was trying to stick up for ya!


  18. Vlatko


    LOL, good one.

    @M. M.,

    I know there are lot of documentaries on virtually everything, art included. I'll put those you suggest, but I don't know when.

    Since I'm bombarded from an independent authors to post their own documentaries and also lot of documentaries posted in the past are dying and have to be "repaired" or put into "preview" mode, I virtually have little time to "press on".

    1. Epicurus

      i was wondering if you were able to make a tab for recommending documentaries. is that possible?

    2. Yavanna

      That would be too easy - we can only like stuff here cos this is doc heaven! SO says the masser!

  19. StillRV

    M.M. If you own a helmet put it on now!

  20. M. M.

    This is a spectacular site. It is like a whole education! Andrew Graham Dixon is great as always. Far preferable to that Matthew Collings bloke whose documentaries are surface and cursory and who always seems to have a grudge against the Christian Faith. Frankly, he doesn't 'get' art if he doesn't 'get' Christianity since it played such a massive, formative role for the past two thousand years in art and culture. And, meant soo much to people as demonstrated in this documentary here with the indigenous Russians warming themselves from the gelid winds outside their homes with the teachings of Jesus. The History of Western Art would not be the same without the Christian faith. I wish athiests would just leave it alone with the critiques already. A little respect for everyone please, is what I think.

    Just a heads up Vlatko, if you're reading, there are also another three Andrew Graham Dixon documentaries on youtube; 1. The Art of Spain - the dark heart. 2. the moorish south 3. the mystical north. These are all quite excellent. I especially enjoyed The Moorish South as it showed Spain as this cultural melting pot and its architecture and art as a miscegination of styles and forms; Islam, Christianity, Judaism all coming together to make some truly beautiful works.

    There is also The Art of Italy although I have not seen it and I don't know if one can find it in entirety on Youtube. There is also The Art of Germany 2010 which I think is produced in full on YT. :)

    1. Yavanna

      the gelid whatnot with the teachings of bejebuz? what the bloody hell are you going on about?!

    2. StillRV

      M.M. What you stated here is correct. Regardless of the venomous denials of some posters on the site, Christianity did indeed play a major roll in the renaissance in many places. Whether it be due to inspiration or the monetary patronage available from churches and religious monarchs the influence was very clearly there. In fact many of the great developments in culture and society came out of religion like Christianity. Most European nations had no educational system until one monastic group or another created one. Orphanages, Hospitals, civil service, Art, History, and yes even science were influenced and funded through churches. Whatever people may think of religion or organized churches today they are fools to deny that along with the misdeeds of the past, faith based organizations did a lot of good as well. Just like any other powerful entity such as government not without flaw yet also not without virtue. Thanks for the comment I enjoy seeing people express such honest joy and enthusiasm with none of the bitter spite so common on internet comment boards.