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  Vorticism was a European fine-art and literary movement of the early 1910s, founded by Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound (who christened it after what he called the ‘vortex’ which was his name for the modernist spirit in the arts). Its aims were to assault bourgeois expectations in the arts, to be aggressive, dynamic and innovative. In fine art, Vorticist works were characterized by brusquely angular, overlapping planes which commented on (or, as Lewis insisted, rejected) both the futurist obsession with dynamism and the static nature of cubism. Apart from Lewis, the major Vorticists were David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein and C.R.W. Nevinson.

In literature, the Vorticists favoured broken syntax, single words hurled at the reader, even a jangle of typefaces and sizes as if snipped from different magazines and glued together. The movement\'s energy was dissipated by the outbreak of World War I, and its energy was transformed from negative to positive by many of the artistic movements which followed it—not least in the work of both Pound and Lewis when their iconoclastic arteries hardened and they moved on to more considered creativity. But in its brief heyday, Vorticism summed up, better than most other isms, exactly what modernism in the arts was all about. PD MG KMcL



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