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This study and its related painting demonstrate Bomberg's search for a purely visual language with which to express his perceptions of the urban environment. They show his precocious understanding of Cubism and Futurism, and of the artists who later became known as Vorticists. The subject was based on a scene of dockers working in the hold of a steel ship. A ladder, seen in the lower right of the picture, connects the hold with the deck above. The drawing is divided into sixty-four squares and a diagonal grid which produces a cross in each square. This geometrical framework, repeated in the final painting, dissolves the subject of the picture into dynamic angular facets.

September 2004