Vorticism is one of the most important and distinctive avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century, and was Britain’s most significant contribution to the development of modernism.
Established in 1914 by the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, Vorticism aimed to liberate British culture from the suffocating agency of the Victorian era, promoting a dynamic art that would embrace and reflect the industrial age through an imagery of hard-edged, geometric and often completely abstract forms.
The Vorticist manifesto appeared in the first issue of the movement’s official publication Blast. Its signatories included William Roberts, Lawrence Atkinson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth and the American poet Ezra Pound, who gave the movement its name. Although it did not survive the First World War, Vorticism achieved its ambition of revitalising British art. In many respects it was greatly indebted to the Italian Futurist movement, which was very active in London during the early years of the twentieth century, yet the British artists consistently rejected such comparisons and fiercely defended their independence.
Blasting the Future! provided a long overdue examination of this important moment and its turbulent and complex relationship with Futurism. All of the major Vorticists were represented, in addition to figures such as Jacob Epstein and David Bomberg – who were sympathetic to the aims of the movement but never belonged to it – and England’s only true Futurist, C.R.W. Nevinson.
The exhibition travelled to the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester between 7 May and 25 July, and was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Philip Wilson Publishers.