Of Mr Bomberg it would be rash to prophesy as yet, but this much may be said, that he has the ambition, the energy, and brainpower to strike out a line of his own
Roger Fry, 1913
This post should have been about Andy Warhol at the Ashmolean but I was so underwhelmed that I really couldn’t think of anything to say. However, by opportunist fate, my path crossed again with David Bomberg.
The tags section of my blog has his name at the same size as Picasso, so think it is safe to say his works resonate with me and this small oil is no exception.
This is called ‘Procession’ and it is believed to have been painted between 1912 and 1914, putting it as a precursor to his wonderful Mud Bath of 1915. The belief is that he was inspired by Jewish funeral procession and with the death of his mother in 1913, this is clearly a topic he was exploring at this time.
The thick paint application and closeness of each form as they huddle together in the procession is quite moving. In conjunction with the sombre palette, you can gain a sense of the grieving.
I wanted to know more about this painting and found reference to a similar work in the 1988 Tate catalogue for a retrospective of Bomberg. In the catalogue it is named as ‘London Group’, c1913 and it was owned by Israel Museum, Jerusalem:
The palette on this version gives a very different view- that golden glow is so reminiscent of late sunlight and has an almost jaunty feel to it.
I did wonder whether either of these formed part of his six painting contribution to the Exhibition of Camden Town Group and Others in Brighton at the end of 1913.
Although he exhibited as part of the ‘others’, Bomberg clearly did not wish to be aligned with one particular movement- he was not a ‘cubist’ nor was he really a Vorticist, but he carved out his own distinct style. In the catalogue for his own 1914 exhibition at the Chenil Gallery, he wrote: “…where I have used Naturalistic form, I have stripped it of all irrelevant matter… My object is the construction of Pure Form.” These two paintings appear to embody that particular sentiment rather well.