Modern and Contemporary

Keen to learn more about contemporary art and design? Our modern and contemporary displays contain inspiring artworks and thought- provoking insights.

View of the early 20th century galleries

Three themes help you to explore our 20th century collections. Tradition and Experiment looks at how the new century fostered a new approach to making art, based on individual expression and experimentation.

Artists explored different disciplines freely, ranging from painting to furniture design, and delved into their own subconscious to create dreamlike surrealist landscapes.  

Two World Wars destroyed the optimism of the early century, and our second theme, 20th Century People explores post-war anxiety and personal identity through the depiction of the human figure.

On a lighter note, Modern Art: You cannot be serious! shows how contemporary art uses illusion and ambiguity to play games with the viewer. From found objects and popular culture, to optical illusion and pure abstraction, the works in this display ask the question 'should we take modern art seriously'?

Key works usually on display in these galleries include:

  • Henry Moore            Mother and Child
  • Max Ernst                 La Ville Petrifiee
  • Clarice Cliff/
    Laura Knight            The Circus Dinner Service
  • Francis Bacon          Portrait of Henrietta Moraes on a Blue Couch 
    David Hockney         Peter C
  • Pablo Picasso/
    Madoura Pottery      Le Visage Jug
  • Juan Munoz             Blotter Figures: Standing Still
  • Stephen Pippin        Vacuum

However, we do advise if you are coming to see a particular work please contact the gallery in advance to ensure it is on display.