Vanguard vortex at the P.Guggenheim Collection

imagesUntil June 05th an exposition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is paying tribute to the Vorticist movement, an Anglo-American vanguard movement founded by Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis in 1914, in London, as a response to French Cubism and in dissident polemics with Italian Futurism.

The exposition is reconstructing the essential stages of Vorticism’s brief but intense artistic parabole, dispersed at the outbreak of the First World War, which, like a dark presage of History, already seems anticipated in nuce by the title of the Movement’s magazine-manifesto: «Blast», explosion.

One hundred pieces, including designs, paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs, accompany the public in its visit to the works of Wyndham Lewis, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound), Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth  and other artists who, like the Americans Jacob Epstein (The Rock Drill) and Alvin Langdon Coburn, and the Englishman David Bomberg (The Mud Bath) came into contact with the Movement, today represented for the first time in their entirety in an exposition which has the unquestioned prestige of reuniting works which were displayed in only three distinct occasions: the two London expositions and the American exhibition in long-ago 1917.

The first genuine Vorticist exposition took place in June 1915, at London’s Doré Gallery.

Gaudy colours and mechanical forms in diagonal position,with its compositions divided into sections by zig-zags and abstract geometrical shapes that transform into images modern industrial dynamics. The success of the London exposition was sadly obscured by the concomitance of the death of one of the artists, the sculptor of French origin, Gaudier-Brzeska, who was killed in battle on 5 June of that year.

Two years later, in 1917, the London Camera Club hosted a new exhibition linked to Vorticism: the exposition of the American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn. In that same year, at the height of the world conflict, Pound and the collector John Quinn organized an exhibition in New York. Nevertheless, once again History intervened. To the organizational difficulty of transporting the works was added the military drafting of many of the artists, who thus could not participate in the only international event ever dedicated to Vorticism until today.


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