William Roberts

Athletes Exercising in a Gymnasium

1920

Medium
Ink, watercolour and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 451 x 359 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1960
Reference
T00322

Display caption

Vorticism failed to survive the First World War. Many of its artists went into the Armed Forces. Roberts joined the Royal Field Artillery in 1916, and later became an Official War Artist. In 1920 he exhibited this drawing at the only exhibition of 'Group X'. Formed in 1919 by Wyndham Lewis and Edward McKnight Kauffer, 'Group X' was a short-lived attempt to rally the avant-garde, and to provide an alternative to the relatively traditional London Group. Roberts had been at the centre of Vorticist activity before the war. However, in later publications such as 'William Roberts: Some Early Abstract and Cubist Work 1913-1920', he revealed the extent to which he had disliked Lewis's arrogant leadership.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

T00322 ATHLETES EXERCISING IN A GYMNASIUM c. 1918–20

Inscr. ‘William Roberts’ b.r.
Pen, pencil and watercolour, 17 3/4×14 1/8 (45×36).
Purchased from the Reid Gallery (Grant-in-Aid with assistance from the Cleve Fund) 1960.
Coll: Louis Golding until 1958.
Exh: (?) Group X, Mansard Gallery, March–April 1920 (Roberts 1), as ‘Athletes exercising in a Gymnasium’.

Purchased under the title ‘Gymnastics’, this drawing is probably identical with ‘Athletes exercising in a Gymnasium’ exhibited at Group X in 1920. It is similar in style to the pen drawing ‘Boxers’ reproduced in the catalogue of this exhibition.

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