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Paris: The Luminous Years

Series 1-Episode 1

Series 1-Episode 1

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“Paris was where the 20th century was,” asserted Gertrude Stein. “It was where we had to be.” This two-part doc charts the explosion of modernism between 1905 and 1930, an “incandescent” epoch when the French capital became a magnet for creative souls.

This avant-garde bunch were “long on talent, short on cash”, as Picasso set up camp in semi-rural Montmartre and Chagall led a ramshackle enclave in Montparnasse. In archive footage, Marie Rambert tells vivid anecdotes about Les Ballets Russes, while an elderly Stravinsky revisits the room where he penned The Rite of Spring.


The first of a two-part documentary exploring the city's role as a catalyst for modernity. Addressing the wider context of the storm of Modernism that swept through the West in the early 20th century, the programme focuses on how the French capital became a magnet for radical and innovative thinkers between 1905 and 1930 and examines how key figures in the art world were influenced by their time spent there.

Documentary Arts

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