Curriculum

10th March 2000 at 00:00
ART IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY. Channel 4. Five programmes for 14 to 16-year-olds. Thursdays 9.30-9.50am.

Until March 30programme notes on www.4learning.co.uknetnotes The film techniques of this introduction to some of the world's most famous paintings are superb. Only with the camera can we zoom in and enjoy minute details.

Images of Women, the first in the series, looks at woman as sex object, goddess, Madonna, princess and heroine. Students may be surprised to learn that Cranach's Venus was once considered the peak of eroticism. Questions such as: "Why has the Venus been painted with no bodily hair?" should ensure lively discussion.

The second programme explains the importance of portraiture for status and as a record for posterity in pre-photographic times. Fur students decode the symbols to find out about the sitter.

The third programme, on techniques of perspective, excels in the clarity of its linear historical treatment. The fourth, Everyday Life, is much broader in scope than Dutch genre pictures. It reveals how artists have portrayed the life, work and leisure activities of their time and looks in detail at Seurat's "Bathers" and its picture of working-class life.

The series ends on a dramatic note with Paintings that Tell Stories - love, despair, revenge, death and plenty of blood and guts.

A final word of praise for the background music - an innovative mix of choral and piano-based harmony which enhances the visual.

Gillian Wolfe is head of education at Dulwich Picture Gallery, south London


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