Profile signs Civilisations books from Mary Beard and David Olusoga

Profile signs Civilisations books from Mary Beard and David Olusoga

Profile Books is to publish two books tying into a "major" new BBC2 series, "Civilisations", presented by Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga.

The TV series is inspired by Kenneth Clark’s "landmark" 1969 documentary series "Civilisation".

The new "Civilisations" series is said to introduce a fresh generation to the extraordinary visual culture of societies from around the globe – from the landscape scrolls of classical China and the sculpture of the Olmecs to African bronzes, Japanese prints and Mughal miniatures. "Civilisations "will be presented by Schama, Beard and Olusoga and is scheduled to air in March 2018.

Profile Books is to publish a book by Beard and a book by Olusoga based on the episodes of "Civilisations" they are presenting. Both books are "extraordinarily ambitious," exploring different themes in the universal histories of art and culture. Mary Beard will investigate ancient representations of the human body across the world and will look at the often problematic interface between art and religion, from idolatry to iconoclasm. Olusoga will examine what happened to art in the great Age of Discovery, when different civilisations encountered each other for the first time. He will also assess how artists dealt with the epochal changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.

Profile Books publisher and m.d. Andrew Franklin bought World rights. Profile will publish both books in March 2018.

Beard said: “It has been exciting, and slightly daunting, to follow in the footsteps of Clark. My approach is dramatically different, and the reach of our programmes and books much wider. All the same I have often felt myself in dialogue with that rather posh man in his tweeds who opened my eyes, when I was a teenager, to such a lot of art and architecture I had not thought about – or even seen – before.”

Olusoga said: “The chapters of the past to which I have always been drawn are those in which different cultures came into contact with one another. Some of the most eloquent records of those ages of encounter and empire are those bequeathed to us by artists. As a historian who’s also a documentary producer I hold Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation in great reverence. Yet despite his own protestations Clark was never the ‘stick-in-the-mud’ he pretended to be, and I suspect he’d approve of our new series and its more global approach.”