From Picasso’s formidable whores and Magritte’s provocative pipe to Pollock painting like and angel, the best 20th-centrury art reflects a world of flux, abstraction and imagination.
The century was not yet out of its teens. For most of the small minority aware of the experiments of modern art, the bright colours of Matisse were still shocking and Picasso’s assaults on beauty were beyond the pale. What was anyone to make of the porcelain urinal Duchamp submitted to a New York art exhibition? Yet it took. Fountain, with its signature R Mutt and the date 1917, was photographed and remembered. It became art, and so changed art forever.