David Bomberg

Ju-Jitsu

c.1913

Medium
Oil paint on board
Dimensions
Support: 619 x 619 mm
frame: 760 x 761 x 35 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1963
Reference
T00585

Display caption

Around 1913, Bomberg was interested in both Cubism and Futurism. He wanted to create a new visual language to express his perceptions of the modern industrial city. He wrote: ‘the new life should find its expression in a new art, which has been stimulated by new perceptions. I want to translate the life of a great city, its motion, its machinery, into an art that shall not be photographic, but expressive.’Works like this were based on simplified figure drawings. Bomberg superimposed a grid to break up the composition into geometric sections. These were painted different colours, partially obscuring the original subject.

Gallery label, July 2007

Catalogue entry

T00585 JU-JITSU c. 1913
 
Inscr. ‘David Bomberg’ b.r.
Oil on cardboard, 24 1/2×24 1/2 (62×62).
Chantrey Purchase from Mrs Lilian Bomberg 1963.
Coll: The artist's widow, Mrs Lilian Bomberg; given to their daughter Diana (Mrs Walter Tachuk), who later exchanged it for another work.
Exh: (?) London Group, March 1914 (74) as ‘Japanese Play’; (?) Twentieth Century Art, Whitechapel Art Gallery, May–June 1914 (253), as ‘Japanese Play’; Chenil Galleries, July 1914 (6); Arts Council, September–October 1958, and provincial tour (1); Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry, September 1960 (9); R. A., 1963 (84).
Repr: The Jewish World, 18 March 1914, p.11.

A working drawing for the painting was lent to the Arts Council exhibition in 1958 by Mrs Lilian Bomberg (52). She wrote (15 October 1963) that although David Bomberg was not interested in any form of sport as such, ‘Ju-Jitsu was one of the many themes that interested and inspired him during the early period in the East End, like “Wrestlers”, “Bargees” etc.’ In 1914 Bomberg organized the Jewish section for the exhibition of Twentieth Century Art at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, in which ‘Acrobats’, ‘Japanese Play’, ‘In the Hold’ and ‘Ezekiel’ were included, all treated in the Cubist manner. A label on the back of T00585, presumably in Bomberg's writing, reads: ‘Title: Ju-Jitzu Japanese Play in the integration of the Parts in the Mass 1910’ [sic]. Another label gives the more likely date of 1912–13.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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