20th Century British Art

Southwark's art collection has a fine series of 20th century artists' work, recording real lives, industries and landscapes from the early years of the century up to the 1950s. Part of a movement called Modernism (1850s to 1950s), these artists wanted to abandon many of the ideals of the past and explore different kinds of worlds in new ways. Some artists painted in a "realistic" manner, others experimented with surrealism or abstract techniques. We forget now how shocking it was to an art audience in the mid-19th century to see paintings of workers or farm hands painted on the sort of huge scale usually reserved for nobility, royalty and religion. More shocking still to see a painting of a street fight or a tired war worker rather than of a triumphant battle or a whiskery general. Modernism was taken over by Contemporary art and other "movements" from the 1960s onwards.

20th Century British Art

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