Wyndham Lewis

Composition

1913

Artist
Wyndham Lewis 1882–1957
Medium
Ink, watercolour and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 343 x 267 mm
frame: 605 x 453 x 26 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1949
Reference
N05886

On loan to: Imperial War Museum North (Manchester, UK)

Exhibition: The Enemy: The World and Wars of Wyndham Lewis

Display caption

In 1914 Wyndham Lewis and the American poet and critic Ezra Pound launched Vorticism with the first edition of 'BLAST'. Vorticism embraced the modern world with gusto. Lewis used 'BLAST' as a vehicle for his 'attack on traditional harmony'. Through its pages he poured scorn on the taste of polite society. This composition was among the first works by Lewis to suggest the architectural and mechanistic rhythm of urban life using a distinctive abstract style. Vorticism challenged French Cubism and Italian Futurism, although its sharp-angled depiction of fragmented space owed a debt to these movements. However, Vorticism focused on the idea of the 'Vortex', the still centre where creative energy is most intense.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N05886 COMPOSITION 1913
 
Inscr. ‘Wyndham Lewis 1913’ b.r.
Watercolour, pen and pencil, 13 1/2×10 1/2 (34×26·5).
Purchased from the artist through the Redfern Gallery (Knapping Fund) 1949.
Exh: Redfern Gallery, May 1949 (10); Tate Gallery, July–August 1956 (33, repr. pl.2).
Lit: Handley-Read, 1951, pp.36–7, 52, 57.
Repr: Art d' Aujourd' hui, IV, No.2, 1953, p.1 (incorrectly as horizontal composition); Konstrevy, 1956, p.182 (as horizontal composition).

There are several pentimenti, involving collage, lower right, centre right and lower left (which includes the signature).

Related to the series of drawings for Timon of Athens exhibited in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, October–December 1912 (194), and published in a Portfolio in 1914; also to ‘Planners’, T00106.

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

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