Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World....

....I was drawn to this exhibition purely by it's poster, I won't lie. (Never judge a book by its cover, Roy).

I loved the black & white, the geometry, the shapes. It's my allure toward an almost African art style that does it. Anyway, I had no idea of the movement, so it is always great to be introduced to one.

Founded and led by Wyndam Lewis, Vorticism was born at an unfortunate time, just as World War I began. It seemed to be a clash of Cubism, Futurism and Abstract art - and that is where I struggle to see where Vorticism is in fact its own. Wyndham Lewis wanted those affiliated with the movement to be regarded as Rebel Artists.

Wyndham Lewis, Laboratorio, c. 1914-1915

For me it just didn't work. Particularly as artists like David Bomberg, when invited to exhibit in a Vorticist show, disassociated himself with the movement, preferring to be called a Cubist. Strange.

David Bomberg, The Mud Bath, 1914

Individually the work of the Vorticists was good. I like it. But it is either Futurist or Cubist. I don't see how it can be anything other, no matter how hard Wyndham Lewis tried. Also good, was their quarterly magazine, Blast.

It was seen as a means to promote their manifesto, and was broken down in to a series of things that the Vorticists, 'Blasted' and things they, 'Blessed'.



The magazine showcased not just art, but also poetry and stories. That's also where the Vorticists tried to claim a difference. But, ultimately the unfortunate era in which they tried to exist, but also the lack of real substance and direction, saw the Vorticists movement disappear a few years later. It's not really regarded as a pivotal movement in art history, and I can understand why. So, as a show, I quite like the work. As a movement, I can't regard it as one.

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