Brave New World: Art of the 1930s

Ref: C3744509

Beginning with the Great Depression and ending with the outbreak of World War II, the 1930s was a decade marked by social and technical change, and political unrest. From Grant Wood's paintings of rural America to John Heartfield's political photomontages, artists in North America and Europe responded to this changing environment in a variety of ways. This course aims to situate the work of artists, architects and photographers of the 1930s, within the context it was produced. Topics covered include: American Scene Painting, modern architecture and the influence of the Bauhaus, British art, art of the Spanish Civil War, Socialist Realism, Surrealism, and photography.

Course aim

This course aims to provide participants with an introduction to the art, architecture and photography of the 1930s.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Define what is meant by 'American Scene Painting' with reference to specific examples.
  • Suggest ways in which the Bauhaus had a lasting influence on the spread of modern art and architecture in Europe and North America.
  • Identify two ways in which art was influenced by the state in Europe.
  • Compare and contrast realist, surrealist and abstract works produced by British artists in the 1930s.
  • Provide examples of political photography of the 1930s.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Participants will be encouraged to undertake additional activities between sessions such as visiting galleries and researching online. These activities, however, will not be compulsory.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • Participants will be encouraged to share their ideas and thoughts with the group. The tutor will be happy to talk to participants on an individual basis after the session ends, if appropriate.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided
  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Brave New World: Art of the 1930s


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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