At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell

Wyndham Lewis’s Modernism refuses a provincial label. His intellectual toughness and taste for self-promotion and polemic were foreign to the amateurishness that, he believed, vitiated Bloomsbury’s insular Post-Impressionism. Vorticism, the movement he set up with Pound and others around 1913 after a break with Roger Fry, would probably have had a short life even if the war had not intervened. Lewis was not a team player; looking back he said: ‘Vorticism, in fact, was what I, personally, did, and said, at a certain period.’ Other surviving Vorticists were, with reason, displeased. It is hard to see how any movement could have been sustained by someone so liable to bite the hand that fed him. His novel The Apes of God doesn’t just mock the artistic competition, but also some of those who had given him money when he sorely needed it.

You are not logged in