vorticism

Discipline: Art

(1914)

An avant-garde movement in painting, sculpture and literature, launched by the English painter and writer WYNDHAM LEWIS (1882-1957) and the American poet EZRA POUND (1885-1972) who coined the term.

The image of the vortex (whirlpool, spinning cone) signifies a point of stillness and concentration at the centre of energetic motion. At the center is, for Pound, the 'primary pigment', different for each of the arts; in poetry, it is the image (see: imagism). Pound's early 'vorticist' poems are based on concentrated, concrete, nominal images.

Vorticism was primarily an artistic movement, whose adherents admired, but remained separate from, Italian futurism. Painters LEWIS, EDWARD WADSWORTH (1889-1949), CHRISTOPHER RICHARD WYNNE NEVINSON (1889-1946), DAVID BOMBERG (1890-1957), WILLIAM ROBERTS (1895-1980) and sculptors JACOB EPSTEIN (1880-1959) and HENRI GAUDIER-BRZESKA (1891-1915) were the main exhibitors and exponents of the group. Two issues of Blast, their magazine/manifesto were published (1913-1914).

Internal quarrels and, especially, World War I led to the group's dissolution and a change in attitude.

Sources:
R Cork, Vorticism and Abstract Art in the First Machine Age (London, 1976)
R W Dasenbrock, The Literary Vorticism of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis (Baltimore, 1985)

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