About us
Vorticism Collage

Vorticism

Started: 1913

Ended: 1915

Vorticism Timeline

Quotes

"We stand for the Reality of the Present - not or the sentimental Future, or the sacripant past."
Wyndham Lewis
"WE ONLY WANT THE WORLD TO LIVE, and to feel its crude energy flowing through us."
Wyndham Lewis
"THE IMAGE IS NOT an idea. It is a radiant node or cluster; it is what I can, and must perforce, call a VORTEX, from which, and through which, and into which, ideas are constantly rushing. In decency one can only call it a VORTEX. And from this necessity came the name "vorticism."
Ezra Pound
"The painters realise that what matters is form and colour. Musicians long ago learned that programme music was not the ultimate music. Almost anyone can realize that to use a symbol with an ascribed or intended meaning is, usually, to produce very bad art."
Ezra Pound
"Vorticism is an intensive art. I mean by this, that one is concerned with the relative intensity, or relative significance of different sorts of expression."
Ezra Pound
"The vortex is the point of maximum energy.
It represents, in mechanics, the greatest efficiency.
We use the words "greatest efficiency" in the precise sense - as they would be used in a text book of MECHANICS."
Ezra Pound
"I have no doubt that Italy needed Mr. Marinetti, but he did not set on the egg that hatched me, and as I am wholly opposed to his aesthetic principles I see no reason why I, and various men who agree with me, should be expected to call ourselves futurists."
Ezra Pound

KEY ARTISTS

Wyndham LewisWyndham Lewis
Quick View
Further External Info
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Jacob EpsteinJacob Epstein
Quick View
Artist Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Henri Gaudier-BrzeskaHenri Gaudier-Brzeska
Quick View
Further External Info
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
David BombergDavid Bomberg
Quick View
Further External Info
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ezra PoundEzra Pound
Quick View
Further External Info
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"The Vorticist is at his maximum point of energy when stillest."

Wyndham Lewis Signature

Synopsis

Vorticism blasted onto the London art scene, becoming England's first radical avant-garde group. Embracing contradiction, humor, and ostentatious rhetoric, the Vorticists celebrated the energy and dynamism of the modern machine age and declared an assault on staid British traditions in order to inaugurate a new era where art belonged to all. Rebelling against the genteel semi-abstractions then fashionable among the London bourgeoisie and championed by critics Roger Fry and Clive Bell, the Vorticists developed an abstract style with bold colors, harsh lines, and sharp angles to depict the movement of industrial life. Vorticism encompassed many media, including painting, sculpture, literature, typography, and design in an effort to transform how people interacted with the world. The horrors of World War I, however, dampened their idealization of the machine and dissipated the momentous energy of the group.

Key Ideas

When poet Ezra Pound named the group, he employed the image of the vortex to describe the creative energy brewing around this group of artists. The artists then elaborated on this metaphor of the vortex to animate much of their aesthetic theory. As Wyndham Lewis explained, "You think at once of a whirlpool. At the heart of the whirlpool is a great silent place where all the energy is concentrated; and there at the point of concentration is the Vorticist." The vortex was also the site of artistic creation. Vorticist compositions rely heavily on diagonals that seem to splinter apart and yet remain solidly contained on the picture plane.
Embracing the possibilities of the machine's energy, Vorticism drew on the fragmentation of Cubist composition and the movement championed by the Italian Futurists to develop a style of pared down geometry that evoked both dynamism and a still center.
The Vorticists embraced the machine with all of its productive and destructive possibilities. They abstracted machine-age imagery in their compositions and used clean lines and bright colors to further suggest the hard edges and shiny surfaces of the machine. The horror and destruction of World War I caused many of the Vorticists to reformulate the understanding of the place of the machine in modern life, thus largely ending the movement.

Beginnings

Vorticism Image

Formed and named in 1914, the Vorticist group desired to unsettle England's Victorian attitudes toward art. Painter and author Wyndham Lewis founded the movement of artists and writers in an attempt to represent the energy and vitality of the modern era with what he described as "a new living abstraction." While Vorticism has been called the British version of the Italian Futurist movement, which shared similar influences, Lewis and poet Ezra Pound, who coined the name Vorticism, rejected this correlation.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Vorticism Overview Continues

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Anna Souter

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anna Souter
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]