Can art change society?

Dr. James Fox

Many artists have tried to re-shape society, using art as a tool for propaganda and protest, to bring about social change, and to improve people’s lives. But can art really make a difference? And where would we be without it?

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  • Further resources selected by James and The Garden.

Learn about this Garden Talk

Many artists have tried to change society. Some have created propaganda to support governments in power while others have made art to protest against them. Some have worked with and for communities, while others have attempted to improve the lives of individuals. Most of them have tried to inspire and communicate, to challenge and provoke, to build up walls and tear them down.

In the third Garden talk in his series exploring the biggest questions in art, James Fox travels through the history of art, from Renaissance Florence to Nazi Germany, from the trenches of the First World War to the mountains of New Zealand to ask the following questions: Can art change the course of history? Can it change our lives? And where would we, and society, be without it?

James is an art historian at the University of Cambridge, as well as a curator, award-winning broadcaster and the best-selling author of The World According To Colour.

Talk outline


50 minutes

What to expect

30 minute talk

20 minute Member Q&A

Dr. James Fox

James fell in love with art at the age of six and hasn't looked back since. He is now an art historian at the University of Cambridge, a curator, an award-winning broadcaster and the author of bestselling book The World According to Colour.

Art's Biggest Questions Collection

Join our 4-part series as we explore the world of art with Cambridge Art Historian & Broadcaster, Dr James Fox.