Arts television has attracted scholarly attention because of its practice of re-representation, combined with an educational policy that aspired to teach ‘good taste’ to a broader audience. During the 1950s and the early 1960s, the educational and aesthetic merit of ‘art films’ was broadly recognized in Sweden, where a striking number of television programmes were dedicated to visual art. In 1956 an official state report described television as ‘to date [the] most promising tool for art propaganda’. Unlike related productions in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the presentation of art films in Sweden also depended on a strong concern with film art. In addition to special programmes on art history and individual artists, broadcasts included experimental cinema and amateur competitions. This article accounts for the hybrid aesthetics and the intermedial and transnational appearance of the art film for public television, with special attention to those produced by the Swedish Film Unit. Here, ‘style’ is not only invoked as a matter of form and signature but also as an aesthetic ideal reflecting the educational directions and cultural doxa of early television programming. As a historical case study on media convergence, documentary form and modes of address in early public television, the example of the Swedish Film Unit illuminates a media history that upsets any simple boundary between film and television, recalling the important historical context of film art, documentary media cultures and broadcasting history.