On this day in 1882, the great painter Wyndham Lewis was born. He was also a writer of some repute — probably more famous for that during his lifetime. He wrote about a dozen novels and countless essays, short stories, plays, and even poetry. I’ve never read any of his work, but I probably will now. I am going to focus on his painting here.
He was probably the greatest artist in the Vorticist movement. But he is so much more than that. Partly, this is because the movement didn’t much last. Apparently, everyone was so depressed by World War I that they all slunk off in their own personal ways. As a result, his work is quite eclectic. Actually, I’m not that fond of his — or anyone else’s — Vorticist work.
In the Tate’s discussion of Lewis, it mentions that he “produced a bewildering quantity and range of work.” It is very true. It is hard to get a handle on exactly what he was doing. He was one of those crazy talented people who grab different influences the way we lesser mortals breath air. For example, in his battlefield painting A Battery Shelled, I certainly see Vorticism, but there is much more:
But later, he was doing Tyros as seen above in his self-portrait. And later still, he often did more realism as in the following painting of his wife “Froanna” (Gladys Anne Hoskins):
Most of his work is quite splendid, and I’ll admit that the work I don’t like is probably more a failing of mine than his. It is well worth checking out.
Happy birthday Wyndham Lewis!