Sir Jacob Epstein Totem c.1913

Artwork details

Artist
Sir Jacob Epstein 1880–1959
Title
Totem
Date c.1913
Medium Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 580 x 415 mm
frame: 795 x 620 x 25 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1982
Reference
T03358

Display caption

This is one of a group of Vorticist style drawings produced by Epstein between 1913 and 1914. Here he uses a geometrical framework to depict a couple making love. The woman, painted blue, holds a baby above her head. 'Totem' may relate to Epstein's plaster decoration of the columns of the 'Cave of the Golden Calf' club in London, completed in 1912. Although no exact source has been identified that Epstein could have seen, this drawing is very similar in design to sculpture from New Guinea and West Africa. Epstein admired the eroticism of some so-called 'primitive' art and attempted to harness it in his Vorticist works. This is particularly evident in 'Study for The Rock Drill', also shown in this display.

September 2004

About this artwork