Tag Archives: Wyndham Lewis

A Vorticist row in 1967

Revolution 1915 ('The Crowd')

Found in the letters column of The New Statesman of 21 April 1967 this angry exchange about Vorticism and Wyndham Lewis. The Surrealists were famous for arguing amongst themselves and it is interesting to see the vehemence in this post-Vorticist  argument. Michael Ayrton shows Lewis as a difficult man (others were less kind) and Robert Melville's reply scores a few points - but not a direct hit. It is odd that there was any debate about Nevinson being a Vorticist: he is now seen  with Lewis as their greatest exponent...

Sir, Mr Robert Melville contrives to perpetuate an ugly falsehood when he wrote as it was 'with the connivance of Lewis' that the Tate 'took advantage of the public ignorance of Bomberg's early work and included only a single unrepresentative drawing in the exhibition Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism in 1956 to create the impression that he was one of Lewis's lesser camp followers.' A similar argument was vociferously advanced by and on behalf of William Roberts in 1956. David Sylvester took up Roberts's cudgels in the New Statesman and, in passing, pointed out that Bomberg was not a Vorticist at all, but had simply exhibited with them. Denigrators of Lewis are tenacious but they cannot have it both ways. If Bomberg was not a Vorticist but one of what Mr Roberts called 'the Tail' then he had no special place in the Tate exhibition, which was avowedly concerned with Lewis and Vorticism.

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