|Walter Sickert, Mornington Crescent Nude, 1907|
|David Bomberg, The Mud Bath, 1914|
|Stanley Spencer, The Resurrection of the Soldiers, Sandham Memorial Chapel, 1920s|
By coincidence, I was watching 'Ways of Seeing' on Youtube last week and couldn't help but notice the contrast between James Fox's approach and John Berger's. You could probably watch them side by side in different windows if your computer's fast enough. In the first episode of his fabulous series - which was made in response to Kenneth Clark's equally great but rather less confrontational series 'Civilisation' - Berger sought to expose the ways paintings are exploited by all and sundry for their own ends. The essential qualities of a painting, he told us, are stillness and silence. Anything added, such as music, or the movement of a camera to pick out details, is added, whether by advertiser or art historian, for a reason.
Dr Fox spent an hour last night using every trick in the TV presenter's book to catch our attention, to make us look and to share his passion for British art. Good for him.