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Full of raunchy plots and stylish visuals, Simon Schama's new series, which tells the stories behind great art, puts most cultural programming to shame

By Ben Lewis   November 2006

“Simon Schama’s power of art,” the title of Schama’s blockbuster new series for BBC2, made me think instantly of the bombastic 1980s Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit “The Power of Love”: “The power of love /A force from above /Cleaning my soul”—a peerless slice of kitsch neo-romantic pop, propped up by an army of synthesised strings. It would be naive to think that a historian whose academic prowess is matched by his populist instincts hadn’t made this reference deliberately, and sure enough, Schama’s series is art historical power rock. “Art stops us in our tracks with a high voltage jolt…

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