Robert Hughes - Visions of Space (2003)

First aired BBC4, 2003; ABC, 2004 In 'Visions of Space', Robert Hughes tackles the work and lives of three remarkable 20th-century architects: Albert Speer, Mies van der Rohe, and Antonio Gaudi - whose work did so much to shape the modern world. Hughes looks at how each one used space in different ways to express our response, respectively, to the power of religion (Gaudi), the power of the State (Speer), and the power of the corporation (Mies van der Rohe).

Albert Speer: Size Matters
In 1979 Robert Hughes met and interviewed Hitler's architect, Albert Speer, for his landmark series, Shock of the New. Speer died shortly afterwards. Twenty-three years later Hughes discovered the long lost tape of that unique conversation and was inspired to travel back to Germany to examine the legacy of a man who was, for a brief period, the most powerful architect in the world.


Mies van der Rohe: Less is More
This episode features the German architect, Mies van der Rohe, who moved to America and discovered the face of the modern corporate city. In this highly personal account, Hughes follows in Mies' footsteps looking at how an architect who began his career making kitschy, Hansel and Gretel style houses with pointy roofs, little windows and squat floorplans transformed himself into the master of international modernism - the architect of light and space. Mies is the father of the contemporary vogue for loft living - what he was building in the 1920s still looks futuristic now. Similarly, his New York masterpiece the Seagrams Building provided the blueprint for the modern office building - without Mies no major city on Earth would look as it does. But despite his undeniable impact there is something in Mies' work that Hughes finds shockingly neglectful of real human needs. This master builder could spend days working out how to turn a corner with a skilfully placed beam and totally ignore the legitimate wishes and desires of those who used his buildings.

Antoni Gaudi: God's Architect
Robert Hughes returns to Spain to explore the legacy of Antoni Gaudi, the last great cathedral builder of the 20th century.
Gaudi was an intensely Catholic celibate who, despite his austere life, created some of the most sensuous buildings ever known. On his journey through Gaudi's life and work, Hughes (an ex-Catholic himself) explains how a man as religious and conservative as Gaudi could become such an innovative 20th-century giant.


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