Do the interests, concerns and experiences of writers in the 20th Century assist 21st Century human beings in their understanding of the purpose of existence?

In the beginning of the 20th century, contemporary social issues, events and ideas inspired artists to create works that broke new ground, such as abstract art, dissonant music, novels and plays that were written and performed in such profound ways. As a case in point, psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung revealed their discoveries in the 20th century, and these important discoveries changed the way people thought about psychology and other existential ideas, thus inspiring writers and artists to express these ideas in literature and art.

On a different note, art critics would view 20th century art as ‘silly’ and claim that it isn’t ‘real art’, as they were used to seeing classical paintings and only felt comfortable analysing classical paintings. Pablo Picasso received a similar response towards some of his paintings, such as Guernica:


This painting depicts the anguished and shattered human and animal figures after the destruction of a Basque village in his native Spain in 1937. The painting also foreshadowed the widespread bombing of civilians in World War Two.

After studying several plays, novels, essays, poems and paintings, it’s fair to say that knowing the historical context behind certain texts and paintings, can help the reader or viewer understand the artists’ intentions behind their works. Furthermore, it can help us gain further insight into how society functioned during a particular time period.


Works Cited

“Guernica By Pablo Picasso”. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 Aug. 2016.

Ramazani, Jahan, Jon Stallworthy, and Stephen Greenblatt. The Twentieth Century And After. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print.