I find this room very moving because, whether abstract or realist abstract, it is full of works made out of the belief of art's ability to change the world. But of course the 1930s end with the beginning of World War Two – the unleashing of the horrors of that conflict and the Holocaust fundamentally undermined that optimistic belief in the power of culture.Curator Chris Stephens
The 1930s saw a debate, not only between the avant-garde and the academy, but also between modern artists, about the appropriate response to the rise of Fascism in Europe. Abstract artists, surrealists and social realists all interpreted that political imperative in different ways.
Political conflict dominated this decade, as did the economic downfall known as The Great Depression. These social and political concerns emerge in the art of the period, but they manifest themselves in different ways in the work of different artists.