Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 14:19 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 14:19 | SYDNEY

Robert Hughes' Shock of the New


Sam Roggeveen


10 August 2012 13:50

I've always wanted The Interpreter to take a broad view of international political life, going deep into the policy world, certainly, but also beyond it occasionally into the realms of culture (granted, mostly pop culture) and the ideas which shape global civilisation.

I feel the need to mention this from time to time in order to pre-emptively guard against any criticism that this site indulges a little too often in the ephemeral and is perhaps not quite serious enough. I could probably write a long-ish essay about why this is a misguided view, but it's much easier, and frankly more convincing, to introduce people who hold such views to the work of the recently deceased Robert Hughes.

I defy anyone to tell me that their view of America and its place in the world is not enriched by an understanding of its art, so beautifully described in Hughes' American Visions, most of which looks to be available for free on YouTube. And then there's the 1980 series on modern art, The Shock of the New, with which I'm only now becoming acquainted. Again, it looks to be available on YouTube, and I'm struck so far by episode 4 on architecture, a wonderful introduction to the ideas that underpin the central facet of modern life, the city: