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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:34

Video transcript

We are in the 1960s, a period of great social change which also saw massive changes in art. New subjects being painted by figurative artists, new forms of abstraction and at the end of the decade a new thing called conceptual art with performance and video arriving for the first time. Anthony Caro’s ‘Early One Morning’ is one of the landmark sculptures of the Twentieth Century. Caro famously worked with Henry Moore in the 1950s making bronze figures in his own work and then in 1960 went to America with the critic, Clement Greenberg, saw new forms of abstract painting and tried to achieve some of the qualities in his sculpture he started using standard lengths like I beams painting them these brilliant colours, welded and bolted together and then most importantly taking the sculpture off the plinth and putting it on the floor so it becomes part of the same environment in which we, the viewers, move. This painting brings together two of the great stars of the sixties, Peter Blake and David Hockney. It's Blake’s portrait of ‘Hockney in a Hollywood Spanish Interior’. It refers to the fact that Hockney had famously moved to Hollywood in the 1960s and became closely associated with that place. Both Blake and Hockney had been at the Royal College of Art before that and Hockney had become a star even while he was still a student. I love this painting because although it's not a collage, you can see these different elements layered. The figure in the background with the tight leather shorts is taken from a photograph by Michael Cooper and then as if laid onto the surface are these balloons, rather phallic combining with the boy in the background to give the whole thing this very strong homo-erotic undertone a reminder that homosexuality was still illegal in the mid-1960s in Britain. This is Frank Bowling’s ‘Mirror’. It is a painting about aspiration. It is based on the staircase that linked the Royal College of Art, where Bowling was a student alongside Hockney and others, with the V&A Museum. It links a place of anarchic exploration with a space of established culture and Bowling shows himself twice in this image reflecting a kind of confusion in his own identity. At the top he swings his leg out as if daring to challenge and to pursue that anarchic spirit of the Royal College but at the bottom he emerges more sedately, more refined, perhaps indicating his ambition to become integrated as an artist in Britain. What's fascinating about this room is it brings together artists of three different generations with quite different agendas and making different forms of art and yet the room is full of unexpected relationships and echoes and conversations going on between the different works. It's one of the great strengths of showing art simply by the period in which it was made.