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20 November 2019British Art since 1850 - the Pre-Raphaelites to the Turner Prize

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British Art since 1850 - the Pre-Raphaelites to the Turner Prize
Linda Smith
Wednesday 20 November 2019

This day follows the development of British art from the era of the Pre- Raphaelites right up to the present, taking in the move away from narrative and closely-observed detail towards more expressive techniques, and moving on from there to examine how the British art world reacted to the myriad developments coming out of Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Post-war movements like Pop Art and Minimalism are explained, taking the discussion right up to the Turner Prize and beyond.

Session One: 1850-1900 The day begins with an account of developments in British art from the days of the Pre-Raphaelites to the turn of the century, when controversial artistic trends like Impressionism, Symbolism and Aestheticism began to have their effect. These ideas contributed to a move away from closely-observed detail, moralising narrative and anecdotal subject matter, towards an art of sweeping brushstrokes, emotional colour, sexual allure and moral ambiguity.

Session Two: 1900-1945  The early part of this period saw a great deal of division in the British art world, as painters and sculptors got to grips with shocking new developments in style and technique, only to have their modernist attitudes seriously challenged by the trauma of the First World War. Between the wars, British art struggled to find its way amid the bewildering radicalism of the European avant-garde, but was beginning to find its feet with such things as Surrealism and Abstraction when war once again changed everything.

Session Three: British Art since 1945  This session tracks key moments in British art decade by decade, through the curious mixture of modernism and pastoralism which is associated with the Festival of Britain; to the explosion of Pop Art and Conceptualism in the 1960s and 70s, through to the 1980s and 90s, which gave us the notorious Sensation exhibition and the Turner Prize, and up to the present day. 

Image:  Piccadilly Circus by Charles Ginner, 1912. The Tate.