Art documentaries

Learn about the most creative and imaginative minds and their influence on our world through art with these documentaries on BBC Select. Sign up to BBC Select in the US and Canada today to stream an expansive collection of BBC art documentaries.

Nature And Us: A History Through Art

Watch Nature And Us: A History Through Art on BBC Select

In this groundbreaking arts documentary, BBC Select explores the often complex relationship that human beings have with the natural world. Taking a unique approach, Dr James Fox uses art as evidence of our developing attitudes towards nature across the globe and throughout history, from prehistory to the present.

Can culture help to explain our evolving relationship with nature?

Rembrandt

Stream Rembrandt on BBC Select

He was the most successful artist working in the richest city on Earth – glittering 17th-century Amsterdam. Like a modern-day rock star, he loved to live extravagantly. But money woes, tragedy and rumor soon left Rembrandt’s reputation in tatters. But these controversies spurred the artist on to create some of his most celebrated works.

Simon Schama delves into Rembrandt’s final, scandal-strewn years in this art history documentary.

The Art of Gothic

This BBC Select art history documentary spends some time down in the dungeon as it delves into the world of the Gothic.

Acclaimed art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how a group of 19th-century architects and artists spurned the modern age and turned to Britain’s medieval past to create iconic works and buildings with a distinctly creepy edge.

But what attracted them to the dark side?

Gauguin: The Full Story

Stream Gauguin: The Full Story on BBC Select

In 1903, a syphilitic and alcoholic Frenchman called Paul Gauguin died on a remote Pacific island. At that point no-one realized the incredible impact he was to have on modern art.

In this remarkable BBC art documentary, critic Waldemar Januszczak tells the story of Gauguin’s life and examines the accusations of sexual misconduct, family neglect and racism that are frequently made against him.

Oceans Apart: Art and the Pacific

Watch Oceans Apart: Art and the Pacific on BBC Select

It’s a story of exploration and exploitation. 250 years ago, Captain Cook voyaged into the Pacific region for the first time.

While this encounter between the West and Pacific peoples undoubtedly devastated indigenous communities, it also opened the world’s eyes to their images and ideas, forever changing the global imagination.

Art historian James Fox looks at this momentous meeting of cultures in this insightful documentary.