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New Perspectives on Postwar Art

Six-week evening course

A painting called Bypass I

A six week in person course offering an introduction to art made in Britain from 1945 to 1965, a time of upheaval, innovation and creativity after the destruction of the Second World War.

The course will explore the groundbreaking practitioners, new movements, exhibitions and artworks, that emerged from the postwar period, spanning a wide range of media including painting, sculpture, photography, design and architecture. Participants will learn how art reflected changes in postwar society, including the role of women, immigration, new technology and ideas, engaging with critical debates of the period as well as recent developments in scholarship.

The course covers work by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Kim Lim, Francis Newton Souza, Aubrey Williams, Prunella Clough, Frank Auerbach, Eduardo Paolozzi, Jean Cooke, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and Alison and Peter Smithson, among others.

The course will take place at the Barbican Centre on Wednesday evenings, 26 January, 2, 9, 16, 23 Feb and 2 Mar 2022 7-9pm. 

Class sizes are limited so early booking is recommended.

In the event of government restrictions, the course will move online and be delivered via Zoom. 

Please contact [email protected] if you have any further questions.

Course information


Participants must be aged 18+ and have sufficient English language skills to cope with course demands.

Who is the course for?

  • Anyone with a passion for or an interest in art history as well as anyone who wishes to gain knowledge of postwar art in Britain. 
  • No previous knowledge is required so this course is suitable for anyone new to art history. 

What can I expect to learn?

The course considers some of Britain’s most well-known artists, as well as looking at artists deserving of greater attention who have been the subject of reassessments of the period, offering new approaches to postwar British art. The course also celebrates the internationalism of British art, including exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, artists who immigrated to Britain, along with global artistic exchange.

You can expect to:

  • Learn some of the formal debates central to postwar art, relating to figuration and abstraction, new media and style
  • Examine the relationship between art and society
  • Gain knowledge of practitioners celebrated at the time, as well as those who have more recently been at the forefront of scholarship
  • Analyse key artworks individually and comparatively from a wide range of media, identifying connections and themes across the time period
  • Understand some critical approaches to postwar art, addressing philosophy, gender, sexuality and postcolonialism

About the Course Tutor

This course will be led by Dr Catherine Howe. 

Dr Catherine Howe is a lecturer, researcher and curator specialising in twentieth-century European and American art. She has taught at the Courtauld and the University of Sussex and is currently an Associate Lecturer at The Open University and a catalogue raisonné consultant for the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

She has published her writing and research in exhibition catalogues for Tate, Centre Pompidou, the Royal Academy and Barbican, contributing to the exhibitions Queer British Art 1861-1967 at Tate Britain (2017), along with Noguchi, currently on show in our Gallery. 

In 2021 she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, working on a book about the painter Francis Bacon. 

Barbican Centre