Great Artists in Their Own Words

But Is It Art? (1976-1993)


Stand by for the “shock of the new” as this superb series covers 1966–93, a span when “fringe radicals” tore up the artists’ rulebook. But Is It Art? rattles through Carl Andre, Richard Long, Christo, Gilbert & George, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lucian Freud, Paula Rego, Joseph Beuys, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.

Corpulent ladies, a pile of bricks, S&M photography, cliffs and the Reichstag wrapped in cloth, a pickled shark… there’s something for almost all tastes here.

Wide-ranging clips from the BBC archive include a rare view of Long on Omnibus in 1983, Bourgeois smashing reject sculptures and an inoffensive saucer, Hirst while still at art college and, bizarrely, Gilbert & George executing their deadpan shtick on Wogan.


Drawing on TV appearances from the BBC's archive, the story of the birth of modern art is told through the words of those who created this cultural revolution. The final episode looks at the work of more radical artists, from the bricks of Carl Andre and the living sculptures of Gilbert & George, to Robert Mapplethorpe's photography, the nudes of Lucian Freud and the pickled sharks of Damien Hirst. Last in the series.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Rebecca Front
Executive Producer Julian Birkett
Producer Nico Wasserman