Vorticism British Art Movement – 1914 – 1918

Abstract Composition is indicative of Laurence Atkinson's work at the time of the Vorticist Exhibition, 1915
Abstract Composition is indicative of Laurence Atkinson’s work at the time of the Vorticist Exhibition, 1915

The vorticists were a British avant-garde group formed in London in 1914 to create art that expressed the dynamism of the modern world.

Wyndham Lewis, an artist, writer, and polemicist, created the organisation in 1914. The following year, their only collective show took place in London. The New Vortex plunges to the heart of the Present – we produce a New Living Abstraction’ was the first issue (of two) of the magazine Blast, which contained, among other things, two aggressive manifestos by Lewis’ blasting’ what he saw as the effeteness of British art and culture and proclaiming the vorticist aesthetic: ‘The New Vortex plunges to the heart of the Present – we produce a New Living Abstraction’.

Vorticist painting merged cubist reality fragmentation with hard-edged imagery taken from machines and urban environments. It was essentially a British version of futurism, albeit with ideological distinctions. Lewis was a staunch opponent of the futurists. Lawrence Atkinson, Jessica Dismorr, Cuthbert Hamilton, William Roberts, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth, and the sculptors’ Sir Jacob Epstein and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska were among the group’s other members. Although David Bomberg was not a formal member of the group, he produced significant work in the same manner.

The First World War stopped vorticism, but Lewis attempted to resuscitate it briefly with Group X in 1920. The horrors of war prompted a rejection of the avant-garde favouring traditional art production, a phenomenon known as return to order.

Works

Sources

Tate. (1970, January 1). Vorticism – art term. Tate. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/v/vorticism.

Additonal Reading

Antliff, M., & Klein, S. W. (2013). Vorticism: New Perpectives. Oxford University Press.

Beckett, J. A. N. E. (2022). Blast: Vorticism, 1914-1918. Routledge

Dasenbrock, R. W. (1985). The literary vorticism of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis: Towards the condition of paintingJohns Hopkins University Press.

Wees, W. C. (1972). Vorticism and the English avant-garde. University of Toronto Press.

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