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State of the Art 1: History
A richly visual opening montage introduces key ideas about the modern world and post-modern ways of understanding its complexities. Ideas from Fredric Jameson, Susan Sontag, Jean-Francois Lyotard and others, as well as contributions from artists including Victor Burgin and Lubaina Himid, establish core ideas that underpin the series as a whole.
The film then explores responses to history and memory in the work of four artists: the Italian painter Carlo Maria Mariani, who is seen with his series of portraits done in a neo-classical style of contemporary art world figures; the canvases of the German artist Anselm Kiefer, whose huge canvases and sculptures are set against the buildings and other traces of the Nazi past; the painter Jorg Immendorff, who similarly engages directly with German history in his Café Deutschland series; and the American Jonathan Borofsky, who explores history and memory in more allusive and fragmentary ways.