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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : Tate Modern : The Disappearing Figure – Art After Catastrophe

Today we arrive Tate Modern – Disappearing Figure Art After Catastrophe. For our weekly Museum Guide excursion, led by Divvya Nirula. We consider the artistic move away from Figuration after World War II.

After World War II, most artists abandoned the use of human figures in their art. Presented here are our top three must-see objects on view here. Next time you visit the museum, do not miss these!

1. Moment, 1946, by Barnett Newman
2. Two Junctions, 1962, by Tsuyoshi Maekawa
3. Gothic Landscape, 1961, Lee Krasner

Image credit for artworks : Tate Modern

Some fun facts about the Museum :

  • The Holocaust has come to be known as one of the worst cases of genocide in human history. This gallery explores the impact of World War II on art.
  • Nuclear warfare, concentration camps, colonialism and civil unrest – largely, these were the markers of the 20th century. Needless to say, the amount of death and destruction one witnessed at the time was unparalleled, and honestly too much to take.
  • Resultantly, the human psyche was affected. As regards the larger society, there was a question as to where we as a human race were headed. But even at an individual level, one could not shake of the doom and despair.
  • The art world too saw a huge shift in modes and expression and creation, as a result of the war.
  • Hitherto, artists had embraced figuration and thought of the human body as something to celebrate – in daily life, and through art. They depicted the human body as a beautiful and glorious gift. However, during the war, stacks of these same human bodies lay lifeless in concentration camps – as if they were the cheapest most dispensable things.
  • In reaction to this, many artists of the time abandoned the use of figuration in their art, and turned to more abstract styles of creation.

A Final Thought : A New Figuration

While some artists – such as the Abstract Expressionists – moved away from use of the human body. Others – performance artists such as Marina Abramovic and Chris Burden inflicted pain on their own bodies to create art. Either way, the artist never looked at the human body in quite the same way after World War II.


Visit Art From Us Archive for Museum Guide collated by Divvya Nirula. Here you shall find more suggestions on where you should visit next. And what you should see there. 

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