This is Tomorrow

Twentieth-century Britain and its Artists

This is Tomorrow
Michael Bird
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A compelling and lively history that examines the lives of British artists from the late-19th century to today. 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.
' This is Tomorrow is the work of an undercover agent - one who has bravely realigned the familiar legacies of British twentieth-century art. Thrilling accounts, forensically investigated, offer behind-the-scenes revelations of artists' lives, as to how the complexities of the twentieth century impacted on who they were, where they came from, how they thought, worked and lived - it is a fast-moving and compelling read' - Dame Phyllida Barlow
Michael Bird is a writer, broadcaster and curator. His books include Artists' Letters: Leonardo da Vinci to David Hockney, Studio Voices: Art and Life in 20th-century Britain and 100 Ideas that Changed Art. In 2016-17 he was Goodison Fellow at the British Library, researching the Artists' Lives archive.