During the 20th century, art and design was inescapably influenced by politics. Modernism and Art Deco were a reaction to the horrors of the First World War. Later, artists responded to the end of World War II and the fear and suspicion brought on by the Cold War tensions between East and West.
Art Nouveau was a movement in the visual arts popular from the early 1890s up to the First World War. It is viewed by some as the first self-conscious attempt to create a modern style. Its influence can be found in painting, sculpture, jewellery, metalwork, glass and ceramics.The drawings of Aubrey Beardsley, the architecture of Victor Horta and Paul Hankar and the poster designs of Alphonse Mucha are some of the most familiar examples of the Art Nouveau style.
Modernism in design and architecture emerged in the aftermath of the First World War and the Russian Revolution – a period when the artistic avant-garde dreamed of a new world free of conflict, greed and social inequality. It was not a style but a loose collection of ideas. Many different styles can be characterised as Modernist, but they shared certain underlying principles: a rejection of history and applied ornament; a preference for abstraction; and a belief that design and technology could transform society.
Surrealism & Design
Surrealism is one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century. The term was first coined in 1917 by the art critic and poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and in 1924 it was used by André Breton to describe a politically radical movement that aimed to change perceptions of the world.
The period from the end of the Second World War to the mid 1970s was a time of great political tension and exceptional creativity. Art and design were not peripheral symptoms of politics during the Cold War: they played a central role in representing and sometimes challenging the dominant political and social ideas of the age.