Wyndham Lewis (1882–1957), the self-styled leader of Britains avant-garde, lived in Paris from 1902 to 1908 and witnessed there radical changes in art. It is not known whether he ever met Picasso, but his work suggests that he saw Les Desmoiselles dAvignon, 1907. Lewiss mentor, the painter Augustus John, had certainly seen it in Picassos studio soon after it was made.
In 1914, Lewis announced his new avant-garde movement, Vorticism, with the publication of its journal, BLAST. There he criticised Picassos limited subject matter and lack of formal energy, saying that Picasso was putting the modern movement under a cloud: the exquisite and accomplished, but discouraged, sentimental and inactive, personality of Picasso. The dynamic arcs and diagonals of Vorticist aesthetics are a distinctive development of the discoveries of Cubism – a style that had clearly affected Lewiss earlier figure style. But Lewis contrasted Vorticisms concerns with the modern world, especially the city, with Picassos concentration on the closed world of the studio.
Following the First World War, Lewis set out to frighten away the cultivated and snobbish game of what he saw as the introspective world of Picasso and his Bloomsbury supporters. His aggressive, cynical figures first appeared at the Leicester Galleries, London, in April 1921, only weeks after Picassos first post-war exhibition in London.