The Art Of Germany

9.00pm Monday 29 November on BBC FOUR

BBC Four dedicates a season of programmes to the art, landscape, culture and history of Germany, beginning with The Art Of Germany, in which Andrew Graham-Dixon embarks on a thrilling exploration of the country through its art

Following the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, Andrew Graham-Dixon embarks on an epic tour through The Art Of Germany in a new series this autumn on BBC Four.

The programme marks the first instalment in a special focus on German culture to be shown on BBC Four later this year, continuing the success set by The Art Of Italy, The Art Of Spain and, most recently, The Art Of Russia in building a comprehensive overview of European cultural history.

The Art Of Germany takes an in-depth look at the cultural centres of a 500-year-old legacy that rivalled Italy for artistic brilliance during the Renaissance.

Via the great themes of Germanic art, landscape, folk lore and national identity, it explores some of the greatest artists of all time – Durer, Holbein, Caspar David Friedrich, Otto Dix, Joseph Beuys and Gerhard Richter – who carved out a unique national style that still endures today.

Andrew Graham Dixon says: “The Art Of Germany is a vital addition to BBC Four’s The Art Of strand, helping to bring the world’s less familiar artistic and cultural traditions to a wider audience.

“Following two World Wars, there is a tendency to deny German culture the equal reverence of Italy or France, and this enlightening new series provides a wonderful opportunity to explore a great, yet often neglected, artistic tradition whose influence has been just as profound.”

Richard Klein, Controller of BBC Four, says: “Germany is beautiful and has a rich and luminous cultural heritage, but it is virtually unknown over here, or simply misunderstood.

“I am delighted that, as part of BBC Four’s ambition to celebrate art and culture, this new The Art Of series forms the heart of a new season of programmes exploring and revealing the contribution of German art to European cultural history, and is yet another building block in Andrew Graham-Dixon’s and BBC Four’s hugely ambitious project to create the most comprehensive assessment of western visual art ever seen on British television.”

Episode one traces the emergence of Germanic culture and national identity back to the 14th century Rhine Valley, as Andrew travels to Cologne, home to some of the finest medieval art and architecture in the world.

In Nuremberg and Munich he explores how this artistic centre shifted in the 15th century, as four enormous talents – Albrecht Durer, Lucas Cranach, Matthias Grunewald and Hans Holbein – led a German Renaissance.

In episode two, Andrew sets off into the classic German heartland of the Bavarian mountains and looks at how a generation of artists in the 18th century spearheaded a movement of German spiritual unification, producing perhaps the era’s defining image in Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog.

Andrew also learns how nationalism and Romanticism met in the 19th century, with the extraordinary construction of the Neuschwanstein Castle by Ludwig I and his heirs.

Andrew visits historic Prussia in episode three, which became the heart of a modern, unified Germany in 1871.

In Dresden, he explores the emergence of Expressionist artists such as Ernst Kirchner, Emil Nolde and Otto Dix who forged a national cultural identity by fusing modern art styles with old.

In Berlin, Andrew looks at how the Bauhaus School rejected history to embrace new techniques, while the arrival of radical, immigrant artists such as Hannah Hoch, George Grosz and John Heartfield in the 20th century transformed the city into a cultural beacon, whose very existence was threatened following the devastation of the Second World War.

More content about The Art Of Germany will be published, as transmission approaches, on:


  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1