Welcome to the Vorticists blog. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing with you some fantastic stories about the works in our exhibition. Firstly, what was Vorticism - and who were the Vorticists?
Hello, I’m Chris Stephens, curator of Modern British Art at Tate Britain. I am also the co-curator of The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World at Tate Britain, which was conceived by Mark Antliff (Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University), and Vivien Greene (Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York).
Vorticism was one of the truly avant-garde movements in British history. It emerged in the summer of 1914 just before the outbreak of the First World War. The leader of the group was the painter Wyndham Lewis and it was named by American poet Ezra Pound (who had previously described London as a vortex of creativity) and included sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. As well as a number of signed-up members, the wider circle around the group included the sculptor Jacob Epstein and painters William Roberts, David Bomberg and Edward Wadsworth.
Our exhibition brings together over 100 Vorticist works including paintings, sculptures, photography, journals and literary ephemera, including Gaudier-Brzeska’s monumental Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound 1914, Bomberg’s The Mud Bath 1914 as well as Epstein’s extraordinary work Rock Drill (1913-15).
We will also be showing what some believe to be the first abstract photographs - by Vorticist photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn.
And one of the undoubted highlights will be the works of the little known women Vorticists - Jessica Dismorr, Dorothy Shakespear and Helen Saunders, some of whose artworks have only been recently unearthed by Mark Antliff.