Helen Saunders

Helen Saunders is another artist who was part of the vorticist movement. An interesting thing about the movement is that there was a significant number of female artists, even though the group of the artists themselves was small. Saunders’ work has been hard to find because like many of the art that was created during the Vorticism movement, the art work has either been lost or destroyed. She was an active member of the movement and contributed to their magazine Blast by writing poetry and providing imagery. Like some of the women in the movement, Saunders was one of Wyndham Lewis (who was one of the founders of the vorticism movement)After 1920 she changed to a more naturalistic style. A closer look at her work shows the suggestion of arms and legs.





Edward Wadsworth

Edward Wadsworth was an English painter who was one of the artist in the vorticist movement. He raised in an industrial environment and he had an interest with the machine, which was shown through some of his work. He was also interested in the new vision of the world opened up by air travel. Most of his work during the vorticist movement has been lost, but from the woodcuts from his extended series show he often looked down on northern industrial centres from far above.





Wyndham Lewis

A painter and write who was a co-founder of the vorticism movement. His paintings were like short stories which had a mechanistic view of human social behaviour, which was evident in the deliberately clumsy and grotesque figures in his art. When he started producing geometrical and semi-abstract art based on machine and architectural forms, he became obsessed with politics and it’s implications on art. Lewis served in the British Army during the First World War. Due to his experiences in the army, Lewis changed his view on art and the machine age. He told a friend that Vorticism  was “a little narrow segment of time, on the far side of World War I. That first war, you have to regard, as far as I am concerned, as a black solid mass, cutting off all that went before it”.





Pictorialism is a term for a style of photography which emphasises the beauty of  the subject matter, tonality and composition rather than just documenting reality. In other words it is the style in which a photographer has manipulated a photograph as a way of creating an image instead of just recording it. This movement started in the mid 1800’s spanning through to the 1920’s. Pictorialists were the first to establish photography as an art medium. Henry Peach Robinson was the the first to introduce the idea of pictorialism in his book Pictorial Effect in Photography in 1869. He also described pictorialism as the joining together of sections of different photographs to form a “composite” image.

Pictorialists had two ways to distinguish their images from just documenting the everyday life. Firstly the subjects and the composition were designed to bring a sense of fantasy and visual cohesion. Secondly photographers were beginning to manipulate the chemical process in the same way that a painter would  control their tools, such as applying brush strokes, which gave the photographs a painting like look. In manipulating the presentation of information in a photographic negative, the photographers injected their own sensibility into the viewer’s perception of the image, therefore permeating it with pictorial meaning. This idea was most likely influenced by impressionism which was contemporary at the time. In the 1920’s the pictorialism gradually declined as the aesthetics of modernism took hold.

Below are some photographs from the pictorialism movement

Robert Demanchy 


Alice Boughton 


Gertrude Kasebier

Even though I looked into pictorialism to get an idea of how vortographs were started, I really like that  they have this artistic, fantasy, haunting feel and look to them (especially Alice Boughton’s work…) I found a photographer, Chris Field, who recreated pictorialist photographs using stockings and vaseline! I think this might be interesting to try out as an exercise or as a project. Below are the images that Chris Field produced.