Ice cream van in the street, Manchester

Postwar Modern exhibition at the Barbican

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A new exhibition entitled Postwar Modern – New Art in Britain 1945 – 1965 runs from 3 March to 26 June, taking place at the Barbican Art Gallery. On show are 200 works by 48 artists, and 14 of Shirley Baker’s photographs have been selected by the centre’s curators for inclusion. The show charts post-war art and the response by artists at a time of such profound societal change.

The Barbican states: “Postwar Modern explores the art produced in Britain in the wake of a cataclysmic war. Certainty was gone, and the aftershocks continued, but there was also hope for a better tomorrow. These conditions gave rise to an incredible richness of imagery, forms and materials in the years that followed. 

“Focusing on ‘the new’, Postwar Modern features painting, sculpture, photography, collage and installation. It explores the subjects that most preoccupied artists, among them the body, the post-atomic condition, the Blitzed streetscape, private relationships and imagined future horizons.

“As well as reconsidering well-known figures, the exhibition foregrounds artists who came to Britain as refugees from Nazism or as migrants from a crumbling empire, in addition to female artists who have tended to be overlooked.”

Shirley is one of 48 artists chosen for the exhibition. There will be a total of 14 of her works on display, out of a total of 200 works altogether. All 14 are street colour prints taken in 1965 in Manchester. These will also be published in the exhibition catalogue. 

Barbican, London. Postwar Modern exhibition.

Opening hours

Sun-Wed 10am-6pm (last entry 5pm); Thu-Sat 10am-8pm (last entry 7pm); Good Friday 12-8pm (last entry 7pm); Easter Monday 12-6pm (last entry 5pm). Standard entry £18