Blast Vorticism 1914 – 1918
Author(s): Paul Edwards (ed)
Year published: 2000
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing
Publisher Location: Aldershot
Total Pages: 144
Illustrations: 40 colour and 64 b&w
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Vorticism was the only British avant-garde movement to make an original contribution to European Modernism. Founded in 1914 by Wyndham Lewis, and christened by Ezra Pound, the movement was a sustained act of aggression against the moribund and moderate Victorianism that Lewis and Pound saw as stifling the artistic energies of the new generation in England. Inspired by the example of F.T. Marinetti and the Futurists, the Vorticists were nevertheless harshly critical of the Futurists’ naive enthusiasm for modernity. They created their own style of geometric abstraction to celebrate the new consciousness of humanity in a mechanised urban environment. But their splintered and discordant style also measures the cost of the psychic disruption that modernity caused. Vorticism was itself disrupted and finally extinguished by the First World War, in which several of the group served as combatants and war artists. Two Vorticist exhibitions were held, showing work by Jessica Dismorr, Frederick Etchells, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Wyndham Lewis, William Roberts, Helen Saunders and Edward Wadsworth. David Bomberg and C.R. Nevinson, though not members of the group, also exhibited with them, while Jacob Epstein, whose work was reproduced in the Vorticists’ magazine, Blast, in many ways epitomised the Vorticist attitude to modernity in his masterpiece, The Rock Drill. This study is the first fully illustrated guide to the movement in English since Richard Cork’s definitive history, published in the early 1970s. Richard Cork contributes a chapter on Vorticist sculpture. Other chapters discuss painting, literary Vorticism, women in Vorticism and Vorticist aesthetics. This is an English-language adaptation of the publication which accompanied the exhibition held at the Sprengel Museum, Hanover and the Haus der Kunst, Munich.