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This is Tomorrow: Twentieth-Century Britain and its Artists
Author(s): Michael Bird
Year published: 2022
Publisher: Thames and Hudson
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 352
Illustrations: 18 colour illustrations, 63 black and white illustrations
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In This is Tomorrow Michael Bird takes a fresh look at the ‘long twentieth century’, from the closing years of Queen Victoria’s reign to the turn of the millennium, through the lens of the artists who lived and worked in this ever-changing Britain. Bird examines how the rhythms of change and adaptation in art became embedded in the collective consciousness of the nation and vividly evokes the personalities who populate and drive this story, looking beyond individual careers and historical moments to weave together interconnecting currents of change that flowed through London, Glasgow, Leeds, Cornwall, the Caribbean, New York, Moscow and Berlin. From the American James McNeill Whistler’s defence of his new kind of modern art against the British art establishment in the latter half of the 19th century to the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s melting icebergs in London, he traverses the lives of the artists that have recorded, questioned and defined our times.
At the heart of this original book are the successive waves of displacement caused by global wars and persecution that conversely brought fresh ideas and new points of view to the British Isles; educational reforms opened new routes for young people from working-class backgrounds; movements of social change enabled the emergence of female artists and artists of colour; and the emergence of the mass media shaped modern modes of communication and culture. These are the ebbs and flows that Michael Bird teases out in this panoramic account of Britain and its artists in across the twentieth century.