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Book review: Émilie Oléron Evans on Pevsner

30 October 2015

The voice of art history: Nikolaus Pevsner’s work for the BBC

Review of:

Pevsner: The Complete Broadcast Talks. Architecture and Art on Radio and Television, 1945– 1977, by Nikolaus Pevsner, edited by Stephen Games, London: Ashgate Press, 2014, 578 pp., 1 b & w ill., £90 hdbk, ISBN: 9781409461975.
Pevsner: The BBC Years. Listening to the Visual Arts, by Stephen Games, London: Ashgate Press, 2015, 412pp., 6 b & w ill., £85, ISBN: 9781472407672.

Émilie Oléron Evans 13/EOE1

Abstract: Pevsner: The Complete Broadcast Talks (2014), edited by Stephen Games for Ashgate, presents the complete range of Nikolaus Pevsner’s work for radio in the period 1945-1977 for the first time. The collection of talks is an important new source for the study of the close relationship between the development of the discipline of history of art and architecture in Britain and the history of radio as mass media. The eclectic range of subjects tackled by Pevsner, whether commissioned by a succession of producers or – as was increasingly the case as he gained confidence working in radio – based on his own suggestions, enhances his image as a pedagogue and populariser who shunned dogmatism, always holding to the belief that scholars had a major role to play in society as cultural mediators. Games’ essay Pevsner: The BBC Years (2015), while intended to serve as an accompanying piece, struggles to present a coherent analysis of the evolution of Pevsner, the art historian, as a broadcaster.

Key words: Nikolaus Pevsner, art history in Britain, BBC, radio talks, popularisation

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