Episode 1 A Divided Land – Andrew Graham-Dixon begins his exploration of German art by looking at the rich and often neglected art of the German middle ages and Renaissance. He visits the towering cathedral of Cologne, a place which encapsulates the varied and often contradictory character of German art. In Munch he gets to grips with the earliest paintings of the Northern Renaissance, the woodcuts of Albrecht Durer and the cosmic visions of the painter Albrecht Altdorfer. Andrew also embarks on a tour of the Bavarian countryside, discovering some of the little known treasures of German limewood sculpture.
Episode 2 Dream and Machine – Andrew Graham-Dixon continues his exploration of German art by looking at the tumultuous 19th century and early 20th century, and how artists were at the forefront of Germany’s drive to become a single nation. Andrew travels to the north and the coastal town of Griefswald, the birthplace of Caspar David Friedrich, the most influential of the German Romantics, to discover how the Baltic coast impacted on his mysterious paintings of the German landscape. He also visits Berlin and explores the art of the powerful Prussian state, which would spearhead the unification of Germany in 1871. The episode ends with the outbreak of the World War I and the attempts of artists Franz Marc and Otto Dix to rationalise the catastrophic experiences of the world’s first technological war, a war driven by the innovations of Prussia.
Episode 3 In the Shadow of Hitler – Andrew Graham-Dixon concludes his exploration of German art by investigating the dark and difficult times of the 20th century. Dominating the landscape is the figure of Adolf Hitler – failed artist, would be architect and obsessed with the aesthetics of his 1,000 year Reich. In a series of extraordinary building projects and exhibitions, Hitler waged a propaganda war against every kind of modern art as a prelude to unleashing total war on the whole of Europe. After the war the shadow of the Third Reich persisted, Germany remained divided and traumatised. How would artists deal with a past that everybody wanted to forget? From the work of Otto Dix and George Grosz and the age of the Bauhaus to the post-war painters Georg Baselitz, Hilla Becher and the conceptual artist Joseph Beuys is a long strange journey, but the signs are there that art has a place at the heart of the new reunited Germany.