One thing I am missing a lot during the latest Covid lockdown, like so many others, is a visit to an art gallery. As a member of the National Gallery, I am usually up there at least every month having a peek at some favourite paintings or taking in a new exhibition. And, living close to London there are always lots of other alternative galleries to wander around.
So, as next best things, historian Simon Schama’s programmes/podcasts on BBC Sounds, The Great Gallery Tours, have been wonderful trips of the mind into some of the world’s most loved and revered art institutions – The Courtauld in London, The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Prado in Madrid and New York’s The Whitney Museum of American Art.
Simon is a great art connoisseur as his many TV programmes on art and artists demonstrate, and in these programmes his in-depth but not high-brow style takes the listener into the heart of the galleries, putting you right there on the spot in front of magical works of art from Impressionists to Dutch Masters and from Picasso to Hopper.
Not only that, Simon gives you the backstories, the inside tracks, the sense of place, even the flow of the brushes. The programmes are little masters in themselves.
If you are having art-gallery withdrawal symptoms at the moment, then you should definitely check out Simon Schama’s four-part series on BBC Sounds for a fix.