Blast No. 1: Review of the Great English Vortex, June 20, 1914 (Edited by Wyndham Lewis) The Poetry Collection, State University of New York at Buffalo, © Wyndham Lewis and the estate of Mrs G A Wyndham Lewis by kind permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust (a registered charity).

Vorticism, a Reaction against Edwardian England, Presaging Futurism

Wyndham Lewis, Workshop  circa. 1914-5, © Wyndham Lewis and the estate of Mrs G A Wyndham Lewis . Photo: By kind permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust.

Helen Saunders, Dance,  c1915, Courtesy of The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago © the estate of Helen Saunders.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound, 1914, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

 

Tate Britain
Millbank
London
+44 20 7887 8888
The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World
 June 14-September 4, 2011

Tate Britain presents a major exhibition about Vorticism (1914-18), one of the truly avant-garde movements in British history. Led by painter Wyndham Lewis and named by American poet Ezra Pound, the revolutionary Vorticist artists reacted against the culture of Edwardian England with a radical new aesthetic that embraced the maelstrom of the modern world.

This exhibition celebrates the electrifying force and vitality of Vorticism by bringing together over 100 works including paintings, sculptures, as well as the rarely seen Vorticist photography of Alvin Langdon Coburn, claimed as the first ever abstract photographs, and newly revealed works by key women Vorticists. Drawing on new research, the exhibition goes beyond a purely British interpretation of Vorticism, highlighting the movement’s connections with the American avant-garde in New York.

A pivotal modernist group, the Vorticists emerged in London in the summer of 1914 as Europe teetered on the brink of war. Formed when French Cubism and Italian Futurism were having a profound impact on the English art scene, the Vorticists forged their own vibrant and distinctive style that combined machine-age forms with energetic geometric imagery. Amidst dramatic social and political change, and rapidly developing technology, these artists observed the world around them as if from a vortex, the still centre of a chaotic modernity. With self-proclaimed leader Wyndham Lewis, Vorticism included sculptors Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Jacob Epstein and painters William Roberts, Frederick Etchells and Edward Wadsworth. The Vorticists were also distinctive for counting several female members in their ranks, among them Jessica Dismorr, Dorothy Shakespear and Helen Saunders. The exhibition also includes the work of associated artists such as David Bomberg and C.R.W. Nevinson.

Seminal Vorticist works such as Jacob Epstein’s iconic sculpture, Rock Drill 1913-15 (Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery), the bold zig-zagging forms of David Bomberg’s The Mud Bath 1914 (Tate), and Wyndham Lewis’s The Crowd 1915 (Tate) are brought together in The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World. It also offers the rare chance to see international loans such as Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s monumental Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound 1914 (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and a group of newly discovered paintings by Helen Saunders.

The exhibition reveals the importance of a transatlantic exchange of ideas in the origins and legacy of the Vorticists. Using significant new research to examine the only two Vorticist exhibitions mounted in the lifetime of the group: one in London (Doré Gallery) in 1915 and the other in New York in 1917, it highlights the important role of visionary collector John Quinn. Together with Ezra Pound, Quinn facilitated the introduction of Vorticism to an American audience through the 1917 New York show at the Penguin Club.

The exhibition also highlights the literary presentations of the Vorticists’ ideas. A section will be devoted to the group’s ground-breaking journal BLAST No.1: Review of the Great English Vortex 1914 and BLAST War Number: Review of the Great English Vortex 1915, showing its powerful design and literary contributions by, for example, T.S. Eliot, T.E. Hulme and Ford Madox Ford.

The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World is co-organised by Tate Britain with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. It was conceived by Mark Antliff, Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University, and Vivien Greene, Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. It is curated at Tate by Chris Stephens, Curator (Modern British Art) & Head of Displays, Tate Britain, assisted by Tim Batchelor, Assistant Curator. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Edward Wadsworth, Rotterdam 1914, George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film (Rochester, USA) © Estate of Edward Wadsworth. All rights reserved, DACS 2010.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Ornement Torpille  1914, © 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario.

Dorothy Shakespear, Composition in Blue and Black, c1914-15, Emerson Art Gallery Hamilton College © Estate of Omar S. Pound.

 

Alvin Coburn, Vortograph, 1917, Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film.

 

William Roberts, Study for the lost painting Two-Step,  1915, Graphite, watercolor and bodycolor on paper, Trustees of the British Museum, London, Image courtesy of the Estate of John David Roberts and the William Roberts Society.

Dorothy Shakespear, Untitled, c. 1914-1915, Watercolor on paper, Fred L. Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY. Gift of Omar S. Pound, Class of 1951, Image courtesy of Estate of Omar S. Pound.

Recreating the Vorticist Movement, Machine Age Forms and World War I

Wyndham Lewis, Composition, 1913, Collection of the Tate, London, Purchased 1949, Image courtesy of Tate Photography.

Edward Wadsworth, Rotterdam, 1914, Woodcut, Collection of George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Red Stone Dancer, c.1913, Red Mansfield stone, Collection of the Tate, London. Presented by C. Frank Stoop through the Contemporary Art Society.

 

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Dorsoduro 701
+39 041.2405.404/415
Venice
The Vorticists:
Rebel Artists in London
and New York, 1914-1918

Curated by Mark Antliff
and Vivien Greene
January 29-May 15, 2011

The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-18 is the first exhibition devoted to this London-based movement to be presented in Italy, and the first to attempt to recreate the three Vorticist exhibitions mounted during World War I that served to define the group’s radical aesthetic for an Anglo-American public. An abstracted figurative style, combining machine-age forms and the energetic imagery suggested by a vortex, Vorticism emerged in London at a moment when the staid English art scene had been jolted by the advent of French Cubism and Italian Futurism. Absorbing elements from both, but also defining themselves against these foreign idioms, Vorticism was a short-lived, but pivotal modernist movement that essentially spanned the years of World War I.

This seminal exhibition is co-curated by Mark Antliff, Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University, and Vivien Greene, Curator of Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The exhibition will showcase approximately 90 works (paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photographs and related ephemera) by members of the Vorticist movement drawn from public and private collections throughout Europe and North America. Vorticism will introduce visitors to such artists as Wyndham Lewis, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth and other members of the Vorticist group.

The show features approximately 100 works, comprising paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photography, and printed matter, by renowned artists such as Wyndham Lewis, Jacob Epstein, Edward Wadsworth and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is the second of three venues for the show, following its presentation at the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC, (September 30, 2010-anuary 2, 2011) and before it travels to Tate Britain, London, UK (June 14-September 4, 2011).

The group took its name from Vortex, a term coined by the American expatriate literary great Ezra Pound in 1913, when describing the maximum energy he and his colleagues wished to instill among London's literary and artistic avant-garde. The Vorticist painters created compositions activated by zigzagging, diagonal forms and — in contrast to the Cubists and Futurists — more fully embraced geometric, abstract imagery, while not abandoning three-dimensional illusionism. They harnessed the language of abstraction to convey the industrial dynamism they associated with the vortex of the modern city.

The exhibition is co-organized by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA, and Tate Britain.

Wyndham Lewis, Workshop, c. 1914-1915. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Tate, London. Purchased 1974. Image courtesy of Tate Photography.

Lawrence Atkinson, Abstract, c. 1915-1920, Oil on wood, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London, Image courtesy of Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London.

David Bomberg, The Mud Bath, 1914, Oil on canvas, Collection of the Tate, London. Purchased 1964. Image © Tate.

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn, Vortograph, 1917, Gelatin silver print, Collection of George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film.