'Andre Malraux's Journey into Art' -- and US TV

Intellectual chic is infiltrating American television through TeleFrance USA Cable Network.

One of the most aggressively elitist, pompously intellectualized, vaguely insightful, yet preposterously wonderful adventures in culture is finally making it to American cable. Five years after its triumphant debut on French television , US television is airing Andre Malraux's Journey into Art (TeleFrance USA, 14 weeks, starting Monday Jan. 3 at midnight, repeated Wednesdays at 10 p.m. and Thursdays at midnight; on this same Monday, Wednesday, Thursday cycle for 14 weeks - a maze of a schedule for a fascinating labyrinth of a series).m

Andre Malraux, former French minister of state for cultural affairs and writer-philosopher-art theoretician, managed to get his personal visions of haute culturem for the masses onto the television screen before his death in 1976 . The series is based on a series of interviews with him, illustrated and counterpointed with examples of the art of the world. If it is pretentiously obscure in some parts, it is brilliantly enlightening in other parts. But it is determinedly chic in all parts.

A great observer of art, Mr. Malraux believed in museums without walls, culture for the individual within the masses, the excitement of the intellect as well as the creative spirit. He believed that art, literature, and music are interrelated and reveled in what he perceived as a growing ability of everybody to gambol among creative forces through the new audio-visual technology of culture. Television, he insists in the initial sequence, is the next step in the metamorphosis of art.

Each of the 14 parts in the series explores one aspect of the creative process - the premiere episode concentrates on Malraux himself as well as his attitude toward television; in succeeding episodes the emphasis is on Florence and Venice in the Renaissance, Rembrandt, Goya, Manet, Picasso, the art of India , Japan, and Africa, and, in conclusion, Mr. Malraux's ''imaginary museum.''

The conversations in French are provided with English subtitles and an English narration has been added. The rather unctuous deference of the narrator to a nearly deified Malraux is mitigated by a constant flow of charmingly hilarious Gallic mispronunciations.

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