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How High Art Shaped The Early Days Of Television

Maurice Berger

Maybe you were a "Mad Men" fan, or you were addicted to "Breaking Bad", or you’re losing sleep over the fate of Frank and Claire. If so, then maybe you think that we’re in a golden age of television. For years, TV was considered the lowest of low art. Back in 1961, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newton Minow, described television as a “vast wasteland.” There’s plenty of trash on TV these days, but also, some of the world’s finest work in video and film. The connection between high art and the origins of TV is the subject of a new book that accompanies an exhibition that is currently at the Jewish Museum in New York.

Dr. Maurice Berger looks at the early years of American television from the 1940s through the 1970s, and the influence of the avant-garde and modernism on this medium that has come to dominate American culture. The book and the exhibition are called Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television. Maurice Berger is Research Professor & Chief Curator at the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture. He joins Tom on the line today from Argot Studios in New York.

The exhibition will be at the Jewish Museum in New York until the end of September. It will be coming to UMBCnext year. 

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)