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Art on the BBC: Van Gogh – Life and Art (S2EP2 BBC Four Mon 10 Jan 2022)



Van Gogh – Life And Art: In episode two, Art Historian Kate Bryan examines six decades of BBC archive to create a television history of the man who has become the very embodiment of the tortured artist: Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh was 37 when he shot himself, but in the four years before he died he changed the story of art, painting some of the world’s most beloved works and using colour in ways that changed art forever.

In this programme, Kate will discover that filmmakers have found it impossible to separate Van Gogh’s work from his life – from his fraught relationship with fellow artist Paul Gauguin, to the heartbreaking struggle with his mental health that ended in tragedy.

In an effort to understand his complex psyche and where his talent and extraordinary feeling for colour came from, programme makers have explored the French countryside where his most famous works were painted, set off on detective trails to solve the mystery of his severed ear, and delved into his personal letters, casting some of the world’s most remarkable actors – from Benedict Cumberbatch to Kirk Douglas – to bring his words and his work to life.

Drawing on programmes from Dr Who to The Power Of Art, and experts and enthusiasts from Jeremy Paxman to Andrew Graham-Dixon, Kate will discover how our interpretation of Van Gogh’s work and his illness have undergone seismic changes through the decades.

This episode of Art On The BBC was commissioned by Emma Cahusac for BBC Arts and BBC Four, and produced and directed by Chris Nikkel.

Airdate: Mon 10 Jan 2022 at 21:00 on BBC Four

Season 2 Episode 2

Four young British art historians delve into six decades of the BBC archives to discover the powerful way in which television influences our understanding of the world’s greatest artists.