Civilisations: How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith: As seen on TV

Civilisations: How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith: As seen on TV

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Title:Civilisations: How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith: As seen on TV
Author:Mary Beard
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Civilisations: How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith: As seen on TV Reviews

  • Charlotte

    Reminds me of why I miss my University days. Mary Beard gives us enough information to spark our interest but not so much that it exhausts our appetite for the subject. We aren’t being thrust information that’s purely black and white, this means this and that is that, but being gently guided to ask questions, explore ideas and think more deeply for ourselves.

    Plain speaking and very accessible, touching on a broad range for the length of the book, I hadn’t really planned to blitz through in one s

    Reminds me of why I miss my University days. Mary Beard gives us enough information to spark our interest but not so much that it exhausts our appetite for the subject. We aren’t being thrust information that’s purely black and white, this means this and that is that, but being gently guided to ask questions, explore ideas and think more deeply for ourselves.

    Plain speaking and very accessible, touching on a broad range for the length of the book, I hadn’t really planned to blitz through in one sitting (having grabbed it on impulse at the supermarket and getting absorbed into the introduction whilst the groceries were still being rung up - sorry cashier!) but the end snuck up on me. This read had all the same post-seminar learning buzz of yesteryears, leaving me all kinds of nostalgic and a little heartbroken. And, possibly, a little too blissed out over the chapter bibliographies in those final two dozen pages.

    Divided into two halves, as titled, How We Look (5*) and The Eye of Faith (4*), I couldn’t bring myself to give this less than top marks for the final verdict. Stunningly presented, beautiful colour photographs throughout and paperstock that makes my inner book nerd’s toes curl... All in, if the topic floats your boat, you’ll be missing out if you pass this by. Gem.

  • GBL

    Mary Beard's book 'How Do We Look?' Is based on her input to the recent TV programme 'Civilisations'. It is a challenging read in two sections; the first raising questions on how we see things and the second dealing with the interaction between religion and art.

    Beard has written the book in brief sections dealing with particular objects and ideas eg Olmec heads or the ideas behind iconoclasm. She raises many questions for the reader and the book is designed to make the reader think and reflect o

    Mary Beard's book 'How Do We Look?' Is based on her input to the recent TV programme 'Civilisations'. It is a challenging read in two sections; the first raising questions on how we see things and the second dealing with the interaction between religion and art.

    Beard has written the book in brief sections dealing with particular objects and ideas eg Olmec heads or the ideas behind iconoclasm. She raises many questions for the reader and the book is designed to make the reader think and reflect on various ideas about art and how we see that art.

    Beard highlights that the experience we have now is very different from the experience of the original viewer. The art that we see now in a gallery is often removed from the original context and even when a work of art is in its original place we see it and experience it differently. She discusses the example of the Buddhist Ajanta Caves in India, rediscovered by an Englishwoman, Christina Herringham, who made an enormous effort to record and preserve the 'art' within the caves. Her interpretation of the wall paintings was driven by her 20th century Western perspective and Beard emphasises how different that was from the experience of the original viewers and artists. We 'look' at art with our own understanding of the world and in doing so we have to be careful about the judgements we make.

    This is a book to come back to again and again as it does set up questions to consider over time and I will certainly bear in mind Beard's challenges as I view art in the future.

  • James Lancaster

    Very quick read, with beautiful photographs of the various monuments and works presented in the show. I love Mary Beard's work, but her style seems to clash with the more formal approach taken by Kenneth Clark in the first series and Schama and Olusoga's episodes. However, for this review, considering the book on it's own and not the series associated with it. Is a nice, breezy tour through ancient and medieval art with a brief explanation of the theory behind their presentation. While i think i

    Very quick read, with beautiful photographs of the various monuments and works presented in the show. I love Mary Beard's work, but her style seems to clash with the more formal approach taken by Kenneth Clark in the first series and Schama and Olusoga's episodes. However, for this review, considering the book on it's own and not the series associated with it. Is a nice, breezy tour through ancient and medieval art with a brief explanation of the theory behind their presentation. While i think it's better done in the show, I still enjoyed sitting down with this book. As it is a very relaxing read, that's accessible to a fairly large audience.

  • Annikky

    Very accessible, maybe even too light and brief, but still so many lovely nuggets of insight.

  • Bettie☯

    1: The first film by Simon Schama looks at the formative role art and the creative imagination have played in the forging of humanity itself.

    2: Mary Beard explores images of the human body in ancient art, from Mexico and Greece to Egypt and China

    3: Simon Schama explores the depiction of nature. Simon discovers that landscape painting is seldom a straightforward description of observed nature

    4: Professor Mary Beard explores the controversial topic of religion and art. How, and at what

    1: The first film by Simon Schama looks at the formative role art and the creative imagination have played in the forging of humanity itself.

    2: Mary Beard explores images of the human body in ancient art, from Mexico and Greece to Egypt and China

    3: Simon Schama explores the depiction of nature. Simon discovers that landscape painting is seldom a straightforward description of observed nature

    4: Professor Mary Beard explores the controversial topic of religion and art. How, and at what cost, do different religions make the unseen visible?

    5: Simon Schama examines how the role of artists from the different traditions of West and East developed in the years that followed the Renaissances

    6: In the 15th and 16th centuries distant and disparate cultures met, often for the first time. David Olusoga shows art was always on the frontline

    7: Simon Schama starts his meditation on colour and civilisation with the great Gothic cathedrals of Amiens and Chartres.

    8: David Olusoga explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century

    9: In the final programme Simon Schama explores the fate of art in the machine and profit-driven world

  • Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)

    If you love a good history documentary, you are likely to have watched one presented by Mary Beard. Mary is a professor of classics and has world-wide academic acclaim. She is regularly on television, written some best selling books on ancient Rome, and also more recently, and disappointingly been the target of some pretty crappy internet trolling. I won’t give those comments and stories any credit here. Instead, I will just talk about this wonderful book, which accompanies the incredibly intere

    If you love a good history documentary, you are likely to have watched one presented by Mary Beard. Mary is a professor of classics and has world-wide academic acclaim. She is regularly on television, written some best selling books on ancient Rome, and also more recently, and disappointingly been the target of some pretty crappy internet trolling. I won’t give those comments and stories any credit here. Instead, I will just talk about this wonderful book, which accompanies the incredibly interesting BBC series, Civilisations.

    The Eye Of Faith is in two parts. The first shows us how the human body was represented and displayed in ancient art and how this changed through the ages. From the giant stone heads carved by the Olmec in Central America to the fluid statues full of movement and incredible detail created by the Greeks and the enigmatic terracotta army commissioned by the first emperor of China. The second part of the book delves into art and religion. The wonder of the Ankor Wat, the huge Christian mosaics and iconography such as the crying Virgin Mary of Seville.

    Mary Beard takes a step back with these examples of ancient art and steers us away from putting our modern day points of view on them, or delving too deeply for meaning and making assumptions. When writing about the giant statues of Ramses II, arguably one of the most famous Pharaoh’s in history with either the biggest ego or biggest insecurity, Mary reminds us that not all ancient people would’ve been submissive and towed the line.

    ‘Ancient viewers were not all naive consumers of any message that was thrown at them. Even if some would have looked on these statues in awe and wonderment it is a fair guess that others would have walked by and laughed, or even spat.’

    Today, most of us in the western world laugh when Putin wrestles a bear or rides a horse topless to show off his power and masculinity, why would that be different back then?

    Even taking a look at something as simple as Greek pottery can demonstrate the power of art. The pottery used in the kitchen by women usually depicted a woman holding a child and making wool. Two key achievements for any roman wife. Whereas the men’s drinking pots show slaves at half the size of their masters and much merriment, drunkenness and nakedness, or manly pursuits such as stoking a fire.

    For the great leaders of history, art and grand statues were part of the propaganda machine. More art and gigantic statues were erected at main town entrances, and close to palaces, courts and gathering places across all religions and ancient civilisations. Why was this? Mary takes the view that when it comes to staying at the top, you need to exert your power first to those closest to you, as they are the most likely to want to topple you.

    I would say that theory is just as true today as in ancient history. There may not be cloaks, daggers and poison, but there certainly is phone hacking, scandal and underhand tactics to topple a leader, or to gain power in unscrupulous ways.

    The Eye Of Faith is a very interesting book which will stay around on my coffee table for a while. I look forward to reading the rest in the series.

    Follow @Duffythewriter on Fbook, Insta and Twitter for all things books!

  • Melora

    I

    this was a four star book. I read it three month ago -- the last book I read before we moved and I temporarily gave up reading. Mary Beard is always good, but that whole period is now a blur.

  • Lynne

    Surprisingly easy and quick read that basically covers Beard's two episodes from the recent BBC2 epic (which was brilliant). Covering a wide range of image, Beard presents an analysis of how numerous works of art from pre-history, Ancient Greece, Central and Southern America, China have depicted the changing form of the human body.

    The second part deals with images of gods and God, again drawing from classical antiquity, stunning Islamic calligraphy and Byzantine iconography amongst others.

    High

    Surprisingly easy and quick read that basically covers Beard's two episodes from the recent BBC2 epic (which was brilliant). Covering a wide range of image, Beard presents an analysis of how numerous works of art from pre-history, Ancient Greece, Central and Southern America, China have depicted the changing form of the human body.

    The second part deals with images of gods and God, again drawing from classical antiquity, stunning Islamic calligraphy and Byzantine iconography amongst others.

    Highly accessible, although one small quibble remains, that of the use of BCE and CE (no one has ever been able to tell me exactly what CE means - at least with BC and AD there is some sort of 'fixed' date), ironic indeed when she is discussing images of Christ. At least Melvyn Bragg (and one of Beard's fellow presenters) are still using the more familiar term and long may they do so.

  • Rohase Piercy

    I do love Mary Beard, but prefer watching her on TV to reading her articles. However having watched and enjoyed her episodes of 'Civilisations' (much more than I enjoyed Simon Schama's!) it was a pleasure to read this beautifully illustrated volume and remind myself of all the fascinating things she said! I did have a bit of a beef with the second part though, 'The Eye of Faith' - she's looking at religious art/representations of the Divine and makes several comparisons between 'idol makers' and

    I do love Mary Beard, but prefer watching her on TV to reading her articles. However having watched and enjoyed her episodes of 'Civilisations' (much more than I enjoyed Simon Schama's!) it was a pleasure to read this beautifully illustrated volume and remind myself of all the fascinating things she said! I did have a bit of a beef with the second part though, 'The Eye of Faith' - she's looking at religious art/representations of the Divine and makes several comparisons between 'idol makers' and 'iconoclasts' without appearing to recognise exactly what an idol is - it's neither a likeness nor a God, but a physical object (which may or may not be a likeness) which houses the presence of the Divine without itself being a Divine being. I wish she'd included the Durga Puja idols created to honour the Goddess in Kolkatta (and also by the Hindu community in London!) - the Goddess graces the idol with her presence when the eyes, the windows of the soul, are complete - it would have been a much more eloquent illustration of why these images hold such power than banging on about the Catholic Church's reluctance to fully endorse the faithful's adoration of the Virgin Mary's statue at Macarena. But it's a thought-provoking book and lovely to have on one's shelf as a reference.

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