Tim Marlow’s ‘Great Art’ Series Is Heading to British TV—But da Vinci Doesn’t Make the First Cut

Films on famous artists that have been adapted from cinema releases will be fronted by the Royal Academy’s artistic director.

Tim Marlow. Photo by Cat Garcia

Tim Marlow, whose day job is the artistic director of London’s Royal Academy of Art, is a seasoned broadcaster who can now add the British channel ITV to his resume. He will be fronting a new mini-series called “Great Art” in the new year based on exhibition behind-the-scenes films first shown in the cinema.

The first episode on The Queen’s Canalettos in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle is due to be screened on January 4, 2018. Other 50-minutes-long episodes star Michelangelo’s David, the Rembrandts in the National Gallery in London and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, and Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring in the Mauritshuis, The Hague. But in the first mini season at least, work by the great da Vinci is conspicuously absent. But there is a second series already commissioned, Marlow tells artnet News, adding, “So, who knows?”

It should be straightforward. Six years ago Marlow and long-standing collaborator Phil Grabsky, the executive producer of Seventh Art Productions, made a feature-length film based on the National Gallery’s da Vinci blockbuster. The exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” included the recently restored painting Salvator Mundi. It was its first display in a major institution alongside other works by the artist. The forthcoming ITV series is based on edited versions of Seventh Arts’s “Exhibition on Screen” series, which were shown in cinemas. Marlow, who first worked with Grabsky on arts documentaries for Channel 5 in 1997, is no stranger to all the UK’s terrestrial channels, as well as Sky Arts. But he began his career as a broadcaster on radio—and is busy on the airwaves too, traveling to Chicago, Madrid, and New Zealand to interview leading contemporary artists about their work.

Lisa Reihana’s panoramic video. Photo: Michael Hall. Image courtesy of New Zealand at Venice

Meanwhile, the RA’s energetic artistic director is also making a series of podcasts for the BBC World Service with leading contemporary artists called “In the Studio.”

This week Marlow’s interview with Lisa Reihana, who represented New Zealand at the 2017 Venice Biennale, included the news that she is working on a  3D film which, like her work on show in the Arsenale, explored the meeting of Maori and European cultures. It is based on the colorful life story of Charlotte Badger (1778-1818?), a female convict transported from Britain to Australia who helped lead a successful mutiny on board, became an outlaw-cum-pirate and settled in New Zealand, learning Maori. The fight in question was with a Maori female warrior. Reihana’s panoramic video for the New Zealand Pavilion in Venice, In Pursuit of Venus: Infected, is due to be shown in the RA’s “Oceania” exhibition (September 29–December 10, 2018), which will be a highlight of the institution’s 250th anniversary year.


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