Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

We Are Making a New World

Episode 1 of 3

James Fox looks at British art in the early 20th century, when a radical generation of painters pioneered a style that made sense of the modern experience.

In a major re-calibration of 20th-century British paintings, art historian James Fox argues that British painting from 1910 to 1975 was an extraordinary flowering of genius. He predicts that art historians of the future will rank the period alongside the Golden Ages of Renaissance Italy and Impressionist France.

Drawing upon the work of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer and David Hockney, among others, Fox explores why, during the 20th century, British painters were often dismissed for being old-fashioned. He reveals how these artists carefully reconciled tradition and modernity, providing a unique creative tension that now makes the period seem so exciting.

Over the course of the three-part series, Fox presents his theory that this period of artistic excellence was closely linked to a dramatic shift in Britain's fortunes. He suggests that the demise of the British Empire, as much as the two world wars, defines Britain's unique take on modern art: a determination to rediscover and cling on to 'Britishness' while the country's territorial assets and global influence fell away.

In the years immediately before and during the First World War, a radical generation of painters determined to eject Victorian sentimentality and nostalgia from their art pioneered a new style of painting that would capture and make sense of the modern experience. Walter Sickert shocked the public by making the low-lives of Camden Town and a brutal murder the subject of his gaze. Wyndham Lewis and David Bomberg broke with centuries of realist tradition, reducing humanity to cold geometric forms. But as the country descended into war, three painters - Christopher Nevinson, Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer - reconciled what was best of the avant-garde with Britain's rich painterly tradition to create powerful images of war that would speak to us all.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 8 Jun 2020 00:30

More episodes

Previous

You are at the first episode

See all episodes from British Masters

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Lewen

    Prosthetics

  • Andrew Blaney

    Freak Show

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Eclipse

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Dark Shadow

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Hoc Est Bellum

  • Benjamin Britten

    4 Sea Interludes, Op. 33A Dawn

  • Alec Gould

    Country Village Fete

  • James McConnel

    Ellis Island

  • Anthony Phillips

    Anthony Phillips - Conspiracy Theory Catastrophe

  • Andrew Blaney

    Aurora Borealis Epic Adventure

  • Ilan Eshkeri

    Shadows, Mysteries & Beliefs

  • James McConnel

    Sherlock Holmes

  • Anthony Phillips

    Fire Mountain-Soundscapes

  • James McConnel

    Depression

  • John Ashton Thomas

    Treacherous Return

  • Al Lethbridge

    Mysteries Of The Sea Inspiring Worlds

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson

    Dying City

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson

    Escape

  • Luke Richards

    Morning of the Attack

  • Lali Puna

    Satur-nine

  • Dario Marianelli

    Atonement: With My Own Eyes

  • Ian David & Regan Ryzuk - The Dead Sea

  • Paul Mottram

    Passing Time

  • Wyndham Lewis

    Sympathy

    • 1917 Reading.
  • Luke Richards

    It's Happening

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson

    The Gift

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson

    The Flat

  • Paul Mottram

    Cumulo Nimbus

  • Kinsey Quintet

    British Grenadier March No. 2

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Edge of Paradise

  • Orlando Jopling

    Sunrise (swell)

  • Igor Dvorkin / Duncan Pittock / Ellie Kidd

    Ballet of the Bears

  • Paul Mottram

    Mercurial Flight

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Lest We Forget

  • Nick Ingman / Terry Devine-King

    Asteroid

  • Helen Jane Long

    Frog

  • Jean Sablon

    J'attendrai

  • Gavin Bryars

    Les Fiancailles

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Blue Mist

  • Oliver Ledbury

    Lethal Injection

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Forbidden Forest

  • Barrie Gledden / Chris Bussey

    The Drowning

  • Al Lethbridge

    Calm And Storm War & Struggle

  • Gavin Bryars

    Cello Concerto Farewell To Philosophy

  • Al Lethbridge

    Powerful Land Inspiring Worlds

  • Max Richter

    Lullaby from the Westcoast Sleepers

  • Bernard Becker

    Terrae Incognitae

  • Nils Frahm

    Dedication, Loyalty

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter James Fox
Producer Matthew Hill
Director Matthew Hill

Broadcasts

  • Mon 11 Jul 2011 21:00
  • Tue 12 Jul 2011 00:00
  • Tue 12 Jul 2011 03:00
  • Thu 14 Jul 2011 01:00
  • Thu 14 Jul 2011 23:00
  • Sat 16 Jul 2011 22:00
  • Fri 22 Jul 2011 00:30
  • Sat 18 May 2013 20:00
  • Sun 19 May 2013 00:20
  • Mon 8 Jun 2020 00:30