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Into the vortex

In the summer of 1914 a new movement and its magazine changed the future of British art—and now the Tate is devoting its first major show to the Vorticists

By Richard Cork   June 2011

The Mud Bath by David Bomberg. Photo: John Webb

The Crowd (1914-15) by Wyndham Lewis: a typical Vorticist painting “filled with lean, clear-cut vivacity and exhilarating colour”

A century ago, rebellious young artists across Europe banded together in a succession of loudly publicised avant-garde movements. After Expressionism had erupted in Germany, Cubism revolutionised painting in France. Then the Futurists came out of Italy, demanding that art should celebrate the blurred excitement of machine-age dynamism. Rival groups issued manifestos, proclaiming their ability to transform everyone’s vision of the modern era. The years leading up to the first world war were alive with the energy of all these conflicting “-isms,” and…

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