Tate Modern

Modern Times

Boiler House Level 4 East
Umberto Boccioni, ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space’ 1913, cast 1972
Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space 1913, cast 1972. Tate

Feel the excitement and anxiety generated by the modern city

Technology played an increasing role in how people worked, communicated and relaxed, and also influenced how artists represented a fast-changing world. 

Artists in the early twentieth century wanted to capture the speed of modern transportation, the rapid pace of industrialisation and the transformative power of technology. They turned their attention to distinctly urban subjects such as factories and street scenes. The experience of modern leisure was another key theme, whether in busy cafés or at the circus and carnival. In these lively and sometimes riotous public spaces, social conventions were changing and people mixed and interacted in new ways. 

Alongside these new subjects came new techniques to express the city’s dynamism in paint, sculpture and photography. Perspectives were fractured and multiplied, as artists tried to portray a world viewed by a restless, moving eye. Contemporary life was present even in abstract art as artists included words referring to communication and travel, and shapes evoking modern architecture and fashion.

Curated by Matthew Gale.

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Tate Modern
Bankside
London SE1 9TG
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Glossary of art terms Futurism

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Glossary of art terms Vorticism

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Glossary of art terms Photography

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Shop

Nevinson: The Soul of the Soulless City (custom print), 1920

Get a buzz of 1920s New York with this print of CRW Nevinson’s iconic painting

£25

New York City Scarf

Silk scarf with a vibrant design from Piet Mondrian’s iconic painting New York City 1942

£72

MIMA Futurism

A fascinating survey of the art and ideas of futurism the avant-garde art movement inspired by modern cities, technology and speed

£8.95