The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World

Lambasting the 'sins and infections' of a nation still clinging to its Victorian values, Wyndham Lewis and his fellow pre-war poets, artists and thinkers championed an art that sought to reflect the dynamic, mechanistic energy of the modern world: Vorticism.

Launched with sound and fury by the first edition of Blast magazine in 1914, Vorticism borrowed its fragmented structures from Cubism and its dynamism from Futurism.Lambasting the 'sins and infections' of a nation still clinging to its Victorian values, Wyndham Lewis and his fellow pre-war poets, artists and thinkers championed an art that sought to reflect the dynamic, mechanistic energy of the modern world: Vorticism. Launched with sound and fury by the first edition of Blast magazine in 1914, Vorticism borrowed its fragmented structures from Cubism and its dynamism from Futurism.Great emphasis was placed on outline and clarity of form. Delighting in the technological advances of their age, the Vorticists celebrated 'forms of machinery, factories, new and vaster buildings, bridges and works', and these images dominated the two exhibitions of the movement's short lifetime. Interrupted by the demands of the First World War, Vorticism was to die a premature death in 1918 after just two editions of Blast, one exhibition in New York and one in London.On show here are more than 100 paintings, in addition to sculptures, photographs and literary material. The exhibition places new emphasis on the transatlantic nature of what is generally understood as a British movement, exploring the artistic interaction of British and American figures such as William Roberts, Ezra Pound, TS Eliot and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

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Searching for images to reflect the angular chaos of the modern city, Wyndham Lewis created Workshop. Its unstable diagonal lines, sharp angles and discordant geometry create a sense of dynamic activity. The painting is unusual among Lewis' works in depicting an interior rather than a cityscape, and among the rectangles and brutal lines it is possible to discern the shapes of windows, girders and ladders " the functional architecture of the modern world.The largest sculpture ever created by French artist Gaudier-Brzeska, Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound has also been described as the 'strangest and least representative'. Thought to have been titled by Pound himself after the artist's death, the work is striking not least for its sexualised contours " 'Ezra in the form of a marble phallus' as Lewis himself later remarked. It's a gesture that speaks to the humour that runs through Gaudier-Brzeska's works.


Venue details

Tate Britain Millbank London SW1P 4RG 020 7887 8888 www.tate.org.uk

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass – £6.35 (standard entry charge is £12.70)

Exhibitions open daily from 10am until 5.40pm

Final admission is at 5pm

Book via the Tate Britain website or call +44 (0)207 887 8888