Edward Wadsworth

Abstract Composition


Not on display

Edward Wadsworth 1889–1949
Gouache, ink and graphite on paper
Support: 419 × 343 mm
frame: 690 × 530 × 15 mm
Purchased 1956

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.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Edward Wadsworth’ and ‘Edward Wadsworth 1915’ b.l.
Gouache, 16 1/2×13 1/2 (42×34·25).
Purchased from the Mayor Gallery (Cleve Fund) 1956.
Exh: Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, Tate Gallery, July–August 1956 (191), and Arts Council tour, September–December 1956 (78).
Repr: V. & A., Twentieth Century British Water-Colours, 1958, pl.14; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery, 1962, p.256.

[no further details]

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

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