Sunday, October 31, 2010
The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-18
The Nasher Museum of Art on the campus of Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, is hosting this exhibition as of September 30, 2010 to January 2, 2011.
" "The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-18" is the first exhibition devoted to this Anglo-American movement to be presented in the United States or Italy. It is also 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 the 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 spanned the years of World War I (1914-1918)."
"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. 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 space. They harnessed the language of abstraction to convey the industrial dynamism they associated with the “vortex” of the modern city.
Among historians of modernism, Vorticism has been traditionally treated as an insular British art movement. “The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-18″ will overcome that myth by identifying the movement as a distinctly Anglo-American endeavor developed in 1914 as an avant-garde response to the impact of French Cubism and Italian Futurism on artists and writers in London and New York."
From the Tate Glossary:
"The Vorticists were a British avant-garde group formed in London in 1914 by the artist, writer and polemicist, Wyndham Lewis. Their only group exhibition was held in London the following year. Vorticism was launched with the first issue (of two) of the magazine Blast which contained among other material two aggressive manifestos by Lewis 'blasting' what he considered to be 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 combines Cubist fragmentation of reality with hard-edged imagery derived from the machine and the urban environment, to create a highly effective expression of the Vorticists sense of the dynamism of the modern world. It was in effect a British equivalent to Futurism, although with doctrinal differences, and Lewis was deeply hostile to the Futurists. Other artists were Lawrence Atkinson, Jessica Dismorr, Cuthbert Hamilton, William Roberts, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth, and the sculptors Jacob Epstein and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. David Bomberg was not formally a member of the group but produced major work in a similar style. The First World War brought Vorticism to an end, although in 1920 Lewis made a brief attempt to revive it with Group X."
*Thank-you for that lesson in art history, the Tate!
**This exhibit will travel:
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice [January 29 - May 15, 2011]
Tate Britain in London [June 14 - September 18, 2011]