This is Civilization DVD – Trace the history of art through the century

This is Civilization

This is Civilization

One of my fondest memories from when I was younger is visiting an art museum.  It was my first exposure to “real” art and I was fascinated by the different types of artwork: oil paintings, sculptures, and modern art. There was artwork that spanned many different time periods and it was fascinating to see the differences in how Van Gogh saw the world versus how Monet saw the world.  I remember spending tons of time staring at the artwork of Monet and Renoir who are, to this day, my favorite artists.

This is Civilization debuts on DVD from Athena on June 19, 2012.  Host, Matthew Collings, travels the world, from London to Beijing in this four part documentary that is a contemporary update to BBC’s Civilization series that originally premiered in 1969. This latest update provides a larger focus on non-Western art than the original series.  This is Civilization is shot on location in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, China, Turkey, Egypt and the United States. This is Civilization on DVD originally premiered on the Ovation Channel in March of 2009.

This series follows the various influences over history that have impacted and shaped artwork.  Factors such as emotion, money, and politics all play a part in the types of art that are created during a time period.  Episode 1 “Ye Gods”  examines the bronze dieties created by ancient Greeks and contrasts them to the saints and saviors portrayed by early Christians. This episode also examines other instances of how religion is reflected in both art historically and in present day. Episode 2 “Feelings” is the story of two artists – Jacques-Louis David and Francisco Goya. David’s paintings were influenced by the French Revolution and Goya’s paintings portrayed monsters and suffering as his reaction to the Napoleonic Wars.

Episode 3 “Save our Souls” looks at John Ruskin, a nineteenth century artist that took a stand against urbanization and the factories that were becoming more and more common in this time period.  Also examined are the landscapes of JMW Turner, pre-Raphaelite paintings and even Gothic building practices. Episode 4 “Uncertainty” looks at how today’s advancements have impacted existing traditions and institutions and how this has resulted in today’s modern art.

This is Civilization is a lesson in not only art but also in history.  Matthew Collings presents This is Civilization in a way that makes these lessons interesting and understandable.  Because this program is shot on location, you get a real life look at these works of art in their original home. I love that this is a look at art in general and encompasses both classical art and modern art.  You’ll see a great variety of art including paintings, photography, pagan gods, architecture and much more. The handy 12 page viewers guide with articles including Muse vs Master, Living in the Material World, and the Art of War add even more understanding to art history. Also included are biographies of featured artists plus discussion questions and a timeline at  This DVD set is not only fun, it would make a great homeschool resource. I definitely recommend This Is Civilization on DVD

Article first published as DVD Review: This is Civilization on Blogcritics.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”


  1. Sounds like a great movie for both me and my bf. I love art including art history, and he loves history in general. We'll have to check this out. 
  2. Wendy @ AMFT says:
    My daughter would love this DVD!  I will have to look into this.
  3. Mickey Coutts says:
    That looks like a great present for my mother-in-law. She's a huge fan of art history!
  4. My Mom would adore this,.She is into art and history in a big way and to have it all in the comfort of her living room, will thrill her. Thanks for sharing Ellen!
  5. this sounds really educational. It is sad that more kids don't get exposure to things like this in school any more!

Speak Your Mind