Edward Wadsworth
Abstract Composition 1915

Artwork details

Edward Wadsworth 1889–1949
Abstract Composition
Date 1915
Medium Gouache, ink and graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 419 x 343 mm
frame: 690 x 530 x 15 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1956
Not on display

Display caption

Vorticism was a short-lived but radical movement that emerged in London immediately before the First World War. 'The vortex is the point of maximum energy', wrote the American poet Ezra Pound, who co-founded the Vorticist journal <i>Blast</i> with Wyndham Lewis in June 1914. The journal, opened with the 'Blast' and 'Bless' manifestos, which celebrate the machine age and Britain as the first industrialised nation. Edward Wadsworth was a contributor and painted this Vorticist abstract composition soon after. With its sharp diagonal lines converging towards a 'nodal point' it exemplifies Pound's definition of the Vortex as 'absorbing all that is around it in a violent whirling - a violent central engulfing'. The group's aggressive rhetoric, angular style and focus on the energy of modern life linked it to Italian Futurism, though it did not share the latter's emphasis on speed and dynamism. Other artists associated with Vorticism included William Roberts, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, CRW Nevinson and David Bomberg. The First World War demonstrated the devastating reality of pitting men against machines and Lewis's attempts to revive the movement in 1919 came to nothing.

August 2004

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