Expelled from art school and neglected in his own lifetime, David Bomberg is now considered one of the most important British artists of the 20th century.
The son of Polish Jewish immigrants, Bomberg grew up in East London. Although fiercely independent and dogged by financial problems for most of his life, he made contacts and friendships that placed him at the heart of British Modernism. He was part of the Crisis of Brilliance generation at the Slade School of Fine Art which included Paul Nash and Isaac Rosenberg and, after his expulsion for being too radical, travelled to Europe with avant-garde sculptor Jacob Epstein, where he met Pablo Picasso.
In the years before the First World War, Bomberg’s work was heavily influenced by the geometrical abstractions of the Cubist, Futurist and Vorticist movements and embraced the machine age. Possibly because of the horror of serving in the trenches and his painful experiences as a war artist in both world wars, his later work moved towards Expressionism and landscapes.
This major exhibition examines the development of Bomberg’s work throughout his life, placing it within biographical and historical contexts. Early influences are illustrated in the reworking of Bedroom Picture (1911-12) into the distinctively Vorticist piece At the Window (1919). His Jewish East End heritage is explored in works such as Ju-Jitsu (c1913), while Sappers at Work (1918-19) and Ghetto Theatre (1920) demonstrate his disillusionment during and after the war. Highlights from Bomberg’s later work include Spanish and British landscapes, his final Self Portrait (1956) and Talmudist (1953).