A century ago, art could be defined by its media (oil, clay, bronze, marble). Today, anything goes (blood, naked people, chocolate, rubbish). ‘Modern media, modern messages’ looks at how this has come about and what it implies for the status of modern art and its capacity to ‘represent the human condition’. Is the medium used no longer a criterion for quality, or an indication of profundity or status? This debate puts into question the skill of the artist: technical ability or idea creation. Duchamp believed that his decision alone, as artist, was what established his art. But in fact the result depends on the art institution for its meaning.