The English writer and painter Percy Wyndham Lewis was one of the most imaginative artists of the 20th century. His paintings depicted the dynamism of the industrial world. Lewis wrote novels, plays, autobiographies and critical articles attacking modern art and society.
Wyndham Lewis - a short biography
Biography Percy Wyndham Lewis was born November 17, 1882, in Nova Scotia, Canada. He died on March 7, 1957, in London, England. After moving to London in 1893, he attended Rugby School. He won a scholarship to London's Slade School of Fine Art (1898-1901). Three years later, after failing to complete the course, he studied in Paris at the Sorbonne. Returning to London in 1908, Lewis became a leading figure on the British art scene, forming the Rebel Art Centre, from which emerged the movement known as Vorticism (see below). During World War I, he served as official war artist. In the 1920s, Lewis concentrated on his writings, alienating supporters with his praise of Adolph Hitler. During World War II, Lewis lived in poverty in America and Canada. Wyndham Lewis and vorticism Although the term 'vorticism' was coined by American poet Ezra Pound in 1913 Lewis had, in 1912, already produced what he referred to as Vorticist paintings, attacking Victorian sentimentality and stressing the importance of energy, violence and the industrial world. The Vorticist movement was cut short by World War I.
Wyndham Lewis's best-known works
Lewis produced portraits, industrial landscapes and war scenes such as A Battery Shelled (1919), and the Surrender of Barcelona (1936–37).
Lewis's literary output includes more than 40 novels, short stories, essays, poetry, plays and autobiographies. The Revenge for Love (1937), set in the years before the Spanish Civil War, is considered to be his best novel. Lewis refuted any suggestion that the book was in any way connected to his painting, Surrender of Barcelona.
Other writings include the novels, Tarr; The Apes of God and the trilogy The Human Age, comprising The Childermass, Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta. The autobiographical Blasting and Bombardiering (1937), is an account of his experiences in World War I, while Self-Condemned, is a fictionalised account of the three years Lewis and his wife spent in Canada during World War II. Final word One year before his death, London's Tate Gallery honoured Lewis with a retrospective exhibition. There is a growing interest in his work, with recent exhibitions being held at Rugby School, the National Portrait Gallery, London, and The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.