States of Mind

A naked female figure reclines in the foreground with a steam train and station at night in the background

'The Iron Age', Paul Delvaux, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Oostende

From the late 19th century, artists moved away from representing outer appearances to expressing inner states of mind. Railways carry powerful associations, and the paintings in this section convey many different feelings. They include the threat to traditional ways of life; dreams of travel to faraway places; and the excitement or anxiety of railway travel.

For Expressionist and Futurist artists, the railway was associated with the alienation of the city, the restless dynamism of modern life and the search for a visual equivalent to movement. The Surrealists sought to reveal unexpected truths in strange juxtapositions and dream states. They brought out the connections between railway travel and anxiety, mystery and the subconscious.

In America, Thomas Benton looked back to the folklore of famous railway disasters, and Edward Hopper found in the railway a way of expressing isolation and loneliness.

Artists featured in this section of the exhibition: - Laurits Andersen Ring, Darío de Regoyos y Valdés, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini, Sonia Delaunay-Terk and Blaise Cendrars, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux, Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper and Eric Ravilious.