Artist biography

English painter and illustrator. She studied at the Slade School, London, in 1902–3. She developed a Fauvist style using rich impastos. She exhibited with S. J. Peploe and Fergusson at the Stafford Gallery in 1912, but an encounter with Wyndham Lewis the following year led to a dramatic change in her work. By spring 1914 she had become an enthusiastic member of the Rebel Art Centre, and her name appeared on the list of signatures at the end of the Vorticist manifesto in the first issue of Blast magazine (1914).

Little survives of Dismorr's Vorticist work, but her illustrations in Blast show that she shared the Vorticist's involvement with the dynamism of the machine-age city. Abstract Composition (1914–15; London, Tate) employs sturdy, girder-like forms to animate a vision that she described in the poem Monologue, published in the second issue of Blast (1915). Here she admired ‘the new machinery that wields the chain of muscles fitted beneath/my close coat of skin', outlining the amalgam of human and mechanical imagery that lay at the centre of Vorticism.

After participating in the Vorticist Exhibition of June 1915, Dismorr did voluntary war work in France. She was included in the Vorticist Exhibition of January 1917, held in New York and in 1926 became a member of the London Group and the Seven and Five Society. In later life her work became completely abstract, in tune with avant-garde developments of the 1930s. She contributed to Axis magazine in 1937.

Bibliography
Jessica Dismorr and her Circle (exh. cat., foreword Q.Stevenson; London, Archer Gal., 1972)
Jessica Dismorr, 1885–1934 (exh. cat., intro. Q. Stevenson; London, Mercury Gal., 1974)

RICHARD CORK

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