Blast! The name of the journal produced by the Vorticists on the advent of World War I, best sums up the movement's ideology; blasting through the fabric of Edwardian ideals and embracing the maelstrom of modernity. Delving into this short but explosive movement is the Tate Britain's new exhibition, The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World (until 4 September).
Vorticism emerged in 1914 and the name was penned by American poet Ezra Pound. Led by Wyndham Lewis, the group absorbed elements from Cubism, Furturism and Expressionism then created their own distinctive style which combined machine-age forms and energetic imagery suggested by a vortex.
Only two exhibitions were ever mounted in the lifetime of the group: one in London in 1915 and the other in New York in 1917. Despite being relatively short-lived, the group disbanded due to WWI, Vorticism informed much of Amercian avant-garde movements and Modernism of the early 20th century.
Amongst all the Vorticists, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska probably most embodied the movement. Dying in battle in 1915 at the age of 24, the artist led a short volatile life. Dubbed the “Savage Messiah” by art collector Jim Ede he embarked on a career in art with no previous training, after moving to London in 1910 with a mistress twice his age.
This exhibition by Tate Britain brings together Gaudier-Brzeska’s seminal works such as Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound, as well as over 100 important examples of Vorticism, including Jacob Epstein’s Rock Dill.
Follow the link to Tank for more information on the Vorticists.