I have developed a real love of Vorticism and the artists associated with that movement. When this exhibition popped up, I had to make a decision whether a 90 minute drive was worth the chance that I would see some of the works of my favourite artists… it was!
This exhibition was beautifully lit and the curation had the right balance between the three movements. The catalyst for change with these three groups of artists was the Great War and with the artists themselves playing a role in the fighting, their return from the trenches altered the way in which they perceived their art.
The German Expressionists were well represented with the woodcuts of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Eric Heckel; as well as Edvard Munch’s haunting lithographs: Jealousy II and Woman with a Brooch (Madonna)
Jealousy II was particularly powerful. The lover looks out at us with no sense of regret for what he has done. The question is asked whether the woman is covering her nakedness, having been caught, or whether she too is blatently demonstrating her illicit relationship to her husband. Based on Munch’s own love affair with a poet’s wife.
The Vorticists started with Wyndham Lewis’s The Centauress . Lewis’s time in France had bought him to this change in his painting, embracing expressionism, cubism and futurism in one.
David Bomberg’s 1913 work, The Dancer was worth the journey on its own. The colour pallette was so vibrant and what I am loving about his early work is the way in which the image emerges the longer you gaze at it. Although he did not sign up as a Vorticist, Bomberg did exhibit his work in the only Vorticist Exhibition held in 1915.
Two sketches by Christopher Nevinson were also on show: Study for ‘Column on the March and Loading Timber at Southampton Docks.
Then we moved to the Cubists with a fabulous Georges Braque – The Fox. This I had seen in books, so it was good to get a look at this in detail.
The final section was entitled, ‘A Return to Order and a New Objectivity. The horrors of the war clearly made its mark on the artists in this section, none more so that Otto Dix.
There were four etchings from his series ‘Der Kriege’ and one in particular was striking. Called ‘Dead in the Sludge’, Dix did not want to hide the reality of trench warfare and it was very reminiscent of this one by Gilbert Rogers:
This exhibition ends today and I am delighted that I took a chance on seeing this. Just goes to show that you should go with your gut instincts.