Since my post on Civilisations has had exponentially more readers than anything I have written before, I am doing a follow-up post on the television original. I write as a deep admirer of Kenneth Clark, the quality of his writing and of his mind, his wide frame of cultural reference, including music and literature (he could quote Burns from memory) and his ability to communicate with a global audience about the qualities and characteristics of European art and culture. But his cultural attitudes and beliefs were formed at Winchester and Oxford in the early 1920s and then by working under Bernard Berenson in the late 1920s. His description of Civilisation was not merely Euro-centric, but omitted much of northern Europe, the whole of Spain, and Eastern Europe as well, not to mention India, China, Japan and America. He was mournful of his inability to relate to art after the second world war. So, it is surely wrong to be too nostalgic about his view of Civilisation, and right to celebrate a broader and more international view of Civilisations in the plural.


One thought on “Civilisation

  1. All that is true, but it remains an amazing achievement that shaped the cultural minds of a generation (mine!).

    And his advice to museums and galleries, like Southampton, was immaculate.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s