Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism
This talk will take as its starting point the contention, controversially declared by Wyndham Lewis in 1956, that 'Vorticism was what I personally did and said at a certain period'. This sense of exclusive ownership might be contested by the rich seam of Vorticist works evidenced in the present exhibition, but it is an idea worth exploring both for its audacity and its potential merits. Lewis, at least by his own estimation, was the originator of the Vorticist movement, its principal theorist and protagonist, and its most original artist. A close examination of his major Vorticist works will allow us to explore this idea: recognising the intellectual merit and formal experiment in Lewis's extraordinary images. However, a contrast with key works by Bomberg, Wadsworth, Epstein, et.al., will help situate Lewis's Vorticism within the arena of associated experimental works. Equally, the study of Lewis's interaction with Continental avant-gardes, most especially Cubism and Futurism, will allow for his dependence on external aesthetic and critical models to come into focus. In this way it will become possible to weigh and evaluate Lewis's sense of his role in the Vorticist movement and his actions as its progenitor.
Fundamentally Normand intends to introduce the audience to the provocative figure of Wyndham Lewis and the extraordinary intensity of his painting and personality.
Dr Tom Normand is Senior Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of St Andrews. He is a specialist on 19th and 20th century British art and photography with a particular interest in Scottish culture. He is author of Scottish Photography: a history, Edinburgh 2007; Ken Currie: Details of a Journey, London 2002; The Modern Scot: Modernism and Nationalism in Scottish Art, 1928-1955, London 2000; and, Wyndham Lewis the Artist: holding up the mirror to politics, Cambridge 1992.