Vorticism & Vortographs

Vorticism was a short lived avant garde movement coined by Ezra Pound in 1913. The aim was to create art that expressed the dynamism of the modern world. It was the British equivalent of futurism and it was partly inspired by cubism. Vorticism was expressed in abstract compositions of bold lines, sharp angles and planes.

Below are examples of vorticist art

A photographer called Alvin Langdon Coburn joined a group of vorticists, which is when he started experimenting with what he called vortographs, which are abstract pictures taken through a triangular tunnel of mirrors called a vortoscope. Vortographs were the first completely abstract kind of photography. Coburn was also a figure in the development of pictorialism. He created 18 different kind of photographs in some theme he used Pound and other vorticists artists. When he exhibited them at the Camera Club in 1917 which received mixed reviews from people including Pound and Alfred Stieglitz who rejected some of Coburn’s prints for a show he was putting together (Stieglitz was a well known figure in the pictorialist movement and trying to make photography an art form) In the past however Ezra Pound had described Coburn’s photographs as to have “leapt beyond the “stale and suburban” style of pictorialism, freed the camera from the representation of reality, and brought photography on a par with modern abstract painting.” Coburn later withdrew from the vorticism movement and towards the end of his life photography all together, as a result of the critical reception from his show and ‘schism’ between him and Pound.

Below are some vortographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn and some modern vortographs








Kaleidoscopic Cities: 10 Vortograph-Inspired Urban Images


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