WGBH News and Media Relations


August 4, 2015

Documentary Legend Frederick Wiseman's Portrait of London's Famed Museum Premieres on Public TV


Frederick Wiseman's critically acclaimed new film NATIONAL GALLERY will have its television premiere on WGBH 2 and PBS stations nationwide on Friday, August 21 at 9pm.

The London museum, one of the world's foremost art institutions, is itself portrayed as a brilliant work of art in Wiseman's 39th documentary. The filmmaker listens raptly as docents decode the great canvases of Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Turner; he visits with the museum's restorers as they use magnifying glasses, tiny eye­droppers, scalpels, and Q-tips to repair an infinitesimal chip; he attends administrative meetings in which senior executives do (polite) battle with younger ones who want the museum to become less stodgy and more welcoming to a larger cross-section of the public. But most of all, in NATIONAL GALLERY we experience the joy of spending time with the aforementioned masters as well as Vermeer and Caravaggio, Titian and Velazquez, Pissarro and Rubens, and listen to the connoisseurs who discuss the aesthetic, historical, religious, and psychological underpinnings of these great masterpieces.

“We are thrilled to bring the extraordinary work of acclaimed filmmaker and native Bostonian Frederick Wiseman to the local and national public media audience,” said WGBH President Jon Abbott. “It’s fascinating to see his groundbreaking observational style of storytelling applied to the great masters of fine art and the behind-the-scenes operations of one of the world’s great museums.”

Some of the critical response to NATIONAL GALLERY:

“Mr. Wiseman’s touch is deft but light here, and the experience of watching ‘National Gallery’ is pleasurable and immersive because he’s a wonderful storyteller. It is also unexpectedly moving. Because his other great theme is how art speaks to us, one he brilliantly expresses in the relay of gazes that finds us looking at museumgoers looking at portraits that look right back — at artists, art lovers and moviegoers — even as Mr. Wiseman, that sly old master, looks at all of us in turn. . . Magnificent . . . The movie is at once specific and general, fascinating in its pinpoint detail and transporting in its cosmic reach. It’s about art and process, money and mystery…”

Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“But as one specialist points out, ‘Paintings change, and how you look at them changes as well,’ and what’s most fascinating about Wiseman’s approach is the way it captures hidden or unfamiliar aspects of certain pieces, especially in scenes detailing the painstaking labor that goes into conserving the museum’s massive collection.”

–Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

NATIONAL GALLERY  (2014, 181 mins.) Director, Editor & Sound: Frederick Wiseman.  Produced by Frederick Wiseman & Pierre-Olivier Bardet. Director of Photography: John Davey. USA/France. A Zipporah Films Release. Presented on PBS by WGBH.

NATIONAL GALLERY is a co-production of Gallery Film LLC and Idéale Audience in association with Canal+, Planete+, PBS, and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the Pershing Square Foundation and the LEF Moving Image Fund.   NATIONAL GALLERY is a Zipporah Films, Inc. release and is presented on PBS by WGBH.

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web. Television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH Boston's Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. Find more information at wgbh.org.  

PRESS CONTACT  - Karen Konicek 617-576-3603 karen@zipporah.com




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