The Shock of the New

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Shock of the New
Directed by David Lewis Richardson
Narrated by Robert Hughes
Release date

The Shock of the New is a 1980 documentary television series written and presented by Robert Hughes produced by the BBC in association with Time-Life Films and produced by Lorna Pegram.[1] It was broadcast by the BBC in 1980 in the United Kingdom and by PBS in 1981 in the United States.[2][3] It addressed the development of modern art since the Impressionists and was accompanied by a book of the same name; its combination of insight, wit and accessibility are still widely praised. In 2004 Hughes created a one-hour update to The Shock of the New titled The NEW Shock of the New.[4]

Series outline[edit]

The series consisted of eight episodes each one hour long (58 min approx).[5] It was re-broadcast on PBS in the United States. In the three cases, where PBS changed the titles, they are given in square brackets below.

  1. Mechanical Paradise – How the development of technology influenced art between 1880 and end of World War I. Cubism and Futurism
  2. The Powers That Be [Shapes of Dissent] – Examining the relationship between modern art and authority. Dada, Constructivism, Futurism, architecture of power
  3. The Landscape of Pleasure – Examining art's relationship with the pleasures of nature, and visions of paradise 1870s to 1950s. Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism
  4. Trouble in Utopia – Examining the aspirations and reality of modern architecture. International Style, Art Nouveau, Futurist architecture, urban planning
  5. The Threshold of Liberty – Examining the surrealists' attempts to make art without restrictions.
  6. The View from the Edge [Sublime and Anxious Eye] – A look at those who made visual art from the crags and vistas of their internal world. Expressionism
  7. Culture as Nature – Examining the art that referred to the man-made world which fed off culture itself. Pop art and celebrity
  8. The Future That Was [End of Modernity] – The commercialisation of modern art, the decline of modernism, and art without substance. Land art, performance art, and body art

2004 update[edit]


The book of the series was published in 1980 by the BBC under the title The Shock of the New: Art and the century of change.[6] It was republished in 1991 by Thames and Hudson.[7]

Video releases[edit]

The televised edition of The Shock of the New is posted on the internet[8][9] and is published as a set of DVDs.[10]


External links[edit]