Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-18

David Bomberg, 'The Mud Bath', 1914, oil on canvas, Tate London
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

This is an intriguing investigation into the wider impact of the group of artists who helped to bring modernist thinking in painting, sculpture and literature to the United Kingdom. This is a collaborative exhibition including a number of international art museums, which says much about how we should re-consider these artists who 'punched' their way into the London scene with such visual force over a hundred years ago.

One of the reasons not to see the significance of these artists is because of the influence of Italy, Futurism, and later, Fascism. Wyndham Lewis supported Hitler, which became problematic in the post war years in the UK (link below), as he was such a significant pioneer of modernism. Bomberg also didn't get the respect he deserved, after he was expelled from the Slade School of Fine Art for being too abstract, but he was a highly influential abstract painter to following generations and a teacher in London to artists such as Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach amongst others.

'It is the first exhibition devoted to Vorticism to be presented in Italy. An abstracted figurative style, combining machine-age forms and the focused energy suggested by a 'vortex', Vorticism was a short-lived, but pivotal modernist movement that emerged in London and roughly spanned the years of World War I.

Vorticism’s leaders were painter and writer Wyndham Lewis and poet Ezra Pound. Their mouthpiece was the radical avant-garde magazine 'Blast'. Although Vorticism was born in London, several members were American, including sculptor Jacob Epstein and photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn, as well as the important American patron, John Quinn.

The exhibition emphasizes the group’s Anglo-American connections and is built around the recreation of the three exhibitions the Vorticists mounted during the 1910s; research on these has led to the discovery of lost works and previously unknown material on the movement. Featuring approximately 100 works, comprising paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photography, and printed matter, 'The Vorticists' is co-organized by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and Tate Britain, London.'

The exhibition continues until 15th May 2011.


  1. That painting reminds me of graffiti for some reason (which is great)

  2. Yes I think they have 3d effect and the block styling in common