Simon Schama's Power of Art

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KCET Los Angeles

9 p.m. Monday

PBS' stunning new series "Simon Schama's Power of Art" mixes history with pleasure as internationally acclaimed scholar and writer Simon Schama takes us on a mindful cruise into the imaginations of some of the world's best-known artists. In-depth always, as much painful as instructive, the series is a first-rate example of what PBS does best.

Schama glides us through the mind and artfulness of eight artists: Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo, Bernini, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacques-Louis David, J.M.W. Turner and Mark Rothko. Each artist gets an hour episode devoted to him, his work and his often (but not always) tortured imagination. Mixing dramatic re-enactments, location shooting and splendid art photography (the series' highlight), Schama literally sails into their minds. The works stand out, of course, in this powerful look at our great masters.

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