There is No Vulgarity in Revolt: An Exploration of Vorticist Literature and Design


Composition by Wyndham Lewis

The purpose of this project is to explore the unifying themes within the art and literature of Vorticism, a little-known, early 20th century Modernist movement in avant-garde art, sculpture, and literature which began and ended with the First World War.  Furthermore, I plan to investigate the historical and artistic context surrounding the movement to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the themes and motifs within the pieces I study.  Finally, I will research the publication history and legacy of the Vorticst magazine BLAST and its influence on later literary magazines.

Relying on the resources available to me at Swem and from the Tate Gallery in London, home to the world’s largest collection of Vorticist art, I will engage with the work of eleven different artists or writers including poet Ezra Pound, novelist and painter Wyndham Lewis, and sculptor Jacob Epstein, writing brief analytical responses to each.  To guide my study and provide a cultural context to my analyses, I will refer to my research on the history of the movement and the broader artistic society of the time.

By uncovering the recurring themes throughout Vorticist art and literature, I ultimately hope to shed some light on an often-overlooked, yet influential, detour in Modernist art history.  Through my project, I additionally hope to elucidate the broader artistic and public frustrations during the societally turbulent period of the First World War: a period of rapid modernization which, in many ways, reflects our society today.