History of Art Society: Will Gompertz on Modern Art

Wednesday, 31st October 2012

The Society was fortunate to have Will Gompertz, Arts Editor for the BBC, come to talk about Modern Art. He started with Marcel Duchamp’s decision to place the idea ahead of the medium, and explained how so much of modern art flows from that decision. He then gave a brilliant account of how Picasso and Braque led the Cubists to a different way of exploring the world and went on to consider the values and concerns of Surrealism, based on Freud’s explorations of the subconscious. He bravely argued for the relevance of abstract artists, such as Malevich with his famous ‘Black Square’ and Jackson Pollock with his huge abstract ‘action paintings’, and argued passionately for the value of these challenging canvases as works with great power and content. The audience responded with some perceptive questions, including the relationship between philosophy and art over the last 150 years, which Mr Gompertz enjoyed discussing, and the evening could have gone on much longer than 10pm, when Mr Harrison had to end the conversation.