William Roberts: An English Cubist
Artist(s): William Roberts
Author(s): Andrew Gibbon Williams
Year published: 2004
Publisher: Lund Humphries
Publisher Location: Aldershot
Total Pages: 152
Illustrations: Colour and b&w images throughout
William Roberts was a key player in the development of Cubism in England before the First World War and the longest surviving member of Wyndham Lewis’ Vorticist movement. When he died in 1980, however, he was unfairly thought of as an artist whose avant-garde heyday beggared his subsequent career. William Roberts: An English Cubist looks for the first time at the whole range of Roberts’ work and asserts his true status as a major contributor to the art of the twentieth century.
Roberts was unique in as much as he was the only English artist of his generation who succeeded in manufacturing a mature style in which was preserved something of the aesthetic of Cubism. Moreover, during the course of a long career he employed this style to describe a vast array of mostly metropolitan subject-matter and in doing so constructed an unparalleled panorama of modern life in England. His range was immense. As an official war artist for both the Canadians and the British, Roberts produced two of the most meaningful images of the First World War. Adept at portraiture, he not only painted an extraordinary lifelong series of himself and his family, but tackled a number of the most famous personalities of his age including Maynard Keynes and T. E. Lawrence. No other twentieth-century British artist focused on the eccentricities of London life with such perspicacity and wit.
William Roberts’ life was one of artistic and practical struggle not helped by an intransigent and latterly hermetic personality. Widely illustrated with reproductions of his work, William Roberts: An English Cubist offers a fuller understanding of the life and work of this major British artist.