Rather Pedestrian Chronological Tale of Medieval Art
In this documentary Alastair Sooke visits Venice, Padua, London and other European cultural centers to tell the story of how the Devil took human form in medieval art.
Tracing a line of development from the tenth to the fourteenth century, he shows how artists in the earliest period did not approach the Devil as the incarnation of evil; sometimes they represented him as an attractive figure. It was only when worshipers wanted to emphasize God's goodness that they realized they had to have an opposite for comparison, and hence began to represent the Devil in the form we know of today.
Sooke is very good at tracing the socio-political associations of many paintings; they were not just there to be admired, but taught moral lessons to a largely illiterate public. Art was the main medium of its time, apart from stories, intended for churches where most citizens went to pray at least once a week.
Sometimes the narrative becomes a little repetitive - and we tend to see rather too much of Sooke's footwear as he pads up and down the naves of various churches - but the program offers an insight into the power of art as a communicative medium.
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