Art, aftershocks, and the promise of a new world

Highmore, Ben (2022) Art, aftershocks, and the promise of a new world. In: Alison, Jane (ed.) Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-65. Prestel, London, pp. 29-33. ISBN 9783791379357

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Abstract

Britain, in the twenty-year period from the end of World War Two to what would become the Swinging Sixties, was transformed by world-changing phenomena, and these changes were taking place in the long shadow cast by a catastrophic war whose scale and civilian devastation was unparalleled. The period saw the dismantling of the British Empire and the rise of consumer society. That’s a shorthand way of saying that the world system was entering into a new phase, that commodity culture was extending its range and its reach into everyday life, and that very little in Britain would remain untouched by these changes. It is hard to get a sense of the scale of such transformations. What must it have been like to be the painter Aubrey Williams, for instance: to start those two decades as a colonial subject, working for the Department of Agriculture in British Guiana, coming to Britain in 1952 with a commonwealth scholarship to study Agricultural Engineering, and within a year to be exhibiting your paintings at Gimpel Fils, and in 1966 to establish the Caribbean Artists Movement in London, and to witness the independence of your country of birth as it is renamed Guyana?1 Or, on a different scale, what did it feel like to start those decades amongst urban devastation and increased rationing and to find by the mid-1960s a world of relatively cheap jet travel and a seemingly endless array of consumer goods?

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Media and Film
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2022 09:52
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2022 12:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/107508

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