b'The StorytellersMagnus af PetersensFigurative art has the ability to tell stories. Making us see and contemplate people and their destinies, it has the potential to express the so-called human condition, individual and collective experiences, other worlds, and, not least, religious faith, whose imagery dominated Western art for centu-ries. Narrative was an almost self-evident function of image-making until the modernist invention of abstract artwhich, though, had long existed in craft and other forms outside mainstream Western art history. Abstract, nonfigurative art emphasizes the artwork as visual experi-ence. Its exponents thought that the likeness of a motif to something in the world, something it represented, distracted viewers from focusing on what was actually seen : the work as a group of colors and forms. But figurative and even narrative art still had a place in modernism. Modernist figurative art was not necessarily realist ; rather, it could twist and turn identifiable figures according to the needs of the expression or story the artist wished to convey. Figuration is in no way opposed to radical formal experimentation. Expressionism and Surrealism reveled in metamorphosis, turning humans into animals, monsters, or angels. Not least, social and political content are more easily communicated through figurative art. Pablo Picassos Guernica (1937), made in response to the bombing of a small Basque village during the Spanish Civil War, is perhaps the most famous example of an antiwar painting. German and Austrian Expressionists also depicted the horrors of World War I. In the 1960s, Pop art and Nouveau ralisme mirrored contemporary life. Collage and assemblage were used as a way of directly incorporating the real world into the artwork. With a cheeky disregard for highbrow tastes, Pop referenced media, advertising, and popular culture, sometimes criticizing them, sometimes celebrating them, and often leaving the viewer uncertain which it was doing. In contemporary art, storytelling had a revival in documentary practices that became increasingly popular in the 1990s, when many exhibitions fea-tured strongly narrative work. These works were often connected to history, both personal and political, sometimes mixing fact and fiction in ways that challenged the viewer into questioning which was which. Many of these works took the form of video installations, photography, the representation of archival material, or all of these and more, in large-scale installations. In more recent decades, many painters have made works that tell stories in-spired by myths, fairy tales, and the magical and fantastical, exploring both existential and political issues in metaphorical ways.Postcolonialism Postcolonialismthinking through the aftermath of the era when European countries ruled colony countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and else-wherehas created an increased awareness of the need to include voices from outside the traditional Western canon in museum collections and ex-hibitions, commercial art galleries, and other branches of the art world. One of the first exhibitions to tell a worldwide story of art was Magiciens'