By Frances Spalding
An evaluation tracing the improvement of British paintings and reading the careers of influential artists reminiscent of John Singer Sargent, Vanessa Bell, and David Hockney.
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Extra resources for British Art Since 1900
Fry's influence is an important ingredient in the 1920s but one that can be easily exaggerated. The revolutionary period of modernism was now over. There was little that any critic or artist could do to subvert the conservativism that swept in with the return to peace. The most successful new development at this time was the founding of the Seven and Five Society (so called because it originally contained seven painters and five sculptors) in 191 9. In 1920 it held its first exhibition and published in the catalogue a manifesto that sets the mood for this period.
With financial assistance from his friend and fellowpainter Kate Lechmere, he set up the Rebel Art Centre at 38 Great Ormond Street. Among those attracted into its ranks (despite Nevinson's wish not to have 'anv of these damned women') were the artists several of the avant-garde 50 Helen Saunders (1885-1963) and Jessica Dismorr (1865-1939). Both painted and wrote. And neither was a mere imitator of Lewis, despite devotion to him. Dismorr's description of Piccadilly - 'Towers of scaffolding draw their criss-cross pattern of bars upon the sky, a monstrous tartan' - instances the Vorticists' commitment to urban subjects and finds illustration in Saunders's Atlantic City.
E. Hulme, all associated with Vorticism, refused their signatures, and Etchells is on record as saying that he thought of the movement as faked and manufactured. Nevertheless for a short period lasting just over a year, a style did exist to which the term 'Vorticist' can be applied. It is spare and architectonic, verging on pure abstraction; lines and bars of colour are arranged often around a central nugget of interest (the still centre of the vortex) as in Lewis's Composition in Blue. The style is exact, concrete and anti-humanist.
British Art Since 1900 by Frances Spalding