Wyndham Lewis



In Tate Britain

Wyndham Lewis 1882–1957
Ink, watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 343 × 267 mm
frame: 605 × 453 × 30 mm
Purchased 1949

Display caption

At first glance Composition presents a compressed series of mechanical forms and abstract references to the modern city. However, it is possible to recognise traces of human figures. Dynamic thrusting shapes rise from the lower left but are contained within a claustrophobic, abstract environment. These forms can be seen as a dancing couple. The woman, on the right, bends backwards. The white parallelogram halfway up the right edge is perhaps her hair. The pleated curving architectural form at the bottom centre could be her skirt.

Gallery label, October 2020

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Catalogue entry

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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