Artist biography

Bomberg was the most audacious painter of his generation at the Slade. His treatment of the human figure, in terms of angular, clear-cut forms charged with enormous energy, reveals his determination to bring about a drastic renewal in British painting.

The direction taken by his art brought him into contact with Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists, but Bomberg resisted Lewis's attempts to enlist him as a member of the movement.

With the advent of World War I, everything changed dramatically. By November 1915 Bomberg had enlisted in the Royal Engineers, and his harrowing experiences at the Front brought about a profound transformation in his outlook.

Bomberg never again returned to this dogged and limiting idiom, but he did explore a radically different path during the 1920s. His disillusion with the destructive power of the machine at war led to a few years spent experimenting with ways of making his stark pre-war style more rounded and organic.

Throughout the 1930s Bomberg's art became broader and more impassioned as he sought to convey the essence of his response to landscapes in Scotland and Spain. This work met with little approval in Britain, and during World War II his outstanding series of Bomb Store paintings did not lead to further commissions from the War Artists Committee, despite his repeated requests. His last years were darkened by the realization that his art remained overlooked and even belittled in Britain. His final landscapes and figure paintings include some of his most powerful works.

Bibliography
David Bomberg, 1890–1957 (exh. cat. by A. Forge, W. Lipke and D. Sylvester, ACGB, 1967)
W. Lipke: David Bomberg: A Critical Study of his Life and Work (London, 1967)
Bomberg: Paintings, Drawings, Watercolours, Lithographs (exh. cat. by J. Drew and D. Sylvester, London, Fischer F.A., 1973)
R. Oxlade: David Bomberg, 1890–1957, Royal College of Art Papers, 3 (London, 1977)
David Bomberg: The Later Years (exh. cat. by J. Spurling, London, Whitechapel A.G., 1979)
David Bomberg in Palestine, 1923–1927 (exh. cat. by R. Cork and S. Rachum, Jerusalem, Israel Mus., 1983)
R. Cork: David Bomberg (New Haven and London, 1987)
David Bomberg (exh. cat. by R. Cork, London, Tate, 1988)
David Bomberg: Poems and Drawings from the First World War (exh. cat., London, Gillian Jason Gal., 1992)

RICHARD CORK

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