Uncertain Futures

Vanessa Bell, ‘Abstract Painting’, c.1914

‘In a large part, the uncertain future facing us early in the twenty-first century arose from the inventions, thoughts and transformations of those unusually rich fifteen years between 1900 and 1914, a period of extraordinary creativity in the arts and sciences, of enormous change in society and in the very image people had of themselves. Everything that was to become important during the twentieth century – from quantum physics to women’s emancipation, from abstract art to space travel, from communism and fascism to the consumer society, from in industrialized slaughter to the power of the media – had already made deep impressions in the years before 1914, so that the rest of the century was little more than an exercise, wonderful and hideous by turn, in living out and exploring these new possibilities’

(Philipp Blom, The Vertigo Years: Change and Culture in the West, 1900-1914, London 2008)

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