After leaving the BBC he wrote and presented the Channel 4 TV series This is Modern Art, which won him a Bafta (1998) among other awards. He was originally identified as a proponent of Britart, however more recently his sympathies have become ambiguous or even hostile to it. He wrote in the New Statesman:
"A new popular audience is obsessed by contemporary art. But I think they are being sold something that isn't really there: an all-in package of spirituality, depth and profundity. I am afraid the official institutions of contemporary art are just lying about this stuff.
He wrote and presented a Channel 4 series in 2003 about the "painterly" stream of Old Master painting, called Matt's Old Masters. A book by the same title accompanied the series. Further Channel 4 series by Collings included Impressionism: Revenge of the Nice (2004) and The Me Generations: Self Portraits, (2005).
In October 2007, with Emma Biggs Collings curated and wrote a catalogue essay for an exhibition of Picasso's late works at the Helly Nahmad Gallery in Cork Street, London. The paintings were from the 1960s series of Painter and Model and Déjeuner sur l’herbe reworkings. According to the catalogue essay the exhibition aimed to draw attention to Picasso's achievement as a manipulator of form rather than the popular myth of Picasso as a showman or lover or sensationalist genius.
That year, Collings presented the Channel 4 TV series "This is Civilisation".
From 1997 to 2006 Collings presented Channel 4's annual live coverage of the Turner Prize award. His take on the event sometimes shocked or irritated some parts of the art establishment because of its flippancy and even contempt, though to others it was clear that it was not ignorance but knowledge that drove him, and he was more confident about the world he made light of than the people who attacked him. Collings's monograph on the British sculptor, Sarah Lucas, published in 2002, supports this famous YBA's interest in making textures and surfaces seem compelling. In recent criticism he has been forthright, even earnest, about his allegiance to art that has serious visual content.
Collings' abstract paintings are created in collaboration with mosaicist, Emma Biggs.
Books: The Gospel According to St Saatchi This Is Modern Art by Matthew Collings Weidenfeld Pounds 20 Young Briti Sh Art: The Saatchi Decade Booth-Clibborn Books Pounds 75
Jun 20, 1999; Charles Saatchi and Matthew Collings have much in common: Saatchi buys into contemporary art in a big, personal, subjective way;...
Art of Persuasion Matthew Collings Has Put Down His Brush to Present a New TV Series in W Hich He Shares His Love for Modern Art
Jun 05, 1999; Matthew Collings, the presenter of a new series about modern art, has little time for many of the people in that milieu. "The art...
Books: Warhol, Showbiz and Playing to the Galleries; It Hurts - New York Art from Warhol to Now. by Matthew Collings (21 Publishing, Pounds 19.95). Review by Andrew Cowen
Jan 23, 1999; Now here's a rare thing, an art book that's a right riveting read. Perhaps it's the fact that author Matthew Collings is a Brit,...