Percy Wyndham Lewis

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Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882 - 1957)

Canadian-born English painter and writer. Lewis studied art at the Slade School in London (1898–1901), where his draughtsmanship was much admired, and spent the next seven years in Europe, often with Augustus John in Paris. Most of his early work is lost. On his return to England his work displayed elements of Cubism and Futurism and in 1912 he was included in Roger Fry's second Post-Impressionist exhibition. He worked briefly in Fry's Omega Workshops (1913) before founding the Rebel Art Centre (1914), the focus of his self-styled Vorticist movement. Workshop (1914; London, Tate) is a typical Vorticist picture, semi-abstract and angular and obsessed by the energy and impersonality of the machine. Together with Ezra Pound and Gaudier-Brzeska he founded the Vorticist journal Blast (1914) which he also edited. Working as an official Canadian war artist in both World Wars, Lewis developed Vorticism along more humanistic lines although his compositions remained jagged and his linearity exaggerated. An admired portraitist, in both drawing and painting, his subjects include Edith Sitwell (1923–35; London, Tate). His combative and egocentric nature, evident in his prolific writings and his Self-Portrait as a Tyro (1920; Hull, University), ensured that his membership of artistic groupings, like Group X (1919), was short-lived. Later in his career, influenced by de Chirico, his work became increasingly mythological. In 1953 blindness ended his painting and he devoted himself to writing. His novels, which include The Apes of God (1930) and Malign Fiesta (1955), are renowned for their vehement satire.

 

Text Source: The Oxford Companion to Western Art