Vile Bodies,” Vorticism, and Italian Futurism

Notes from Vile Bodies,” Vorticism, and Italian Futurism by Archie Loss

To an observer the English art scene between mid 1910- mid 1920s, Cubism, Vorticism and Futurism blended together to form one aesthetic vision. The distinctions among the three were difficult to make out at the time and even the artists in the movements differed seriously in defining their purposes. What they had in common was their frequently declared difference from the artistic tradition. Vorticism originated in England and was founded by Wyndham Lewis in 1913 in the pages of Blast. Like Futurism, Vorticism attempted to deal both literally and plastic terms with the modern reality. Vorticist art suggested the machinery of modern life that was so important to the Futurist, this was done through the geometric forms which are reminiscent of Cubism. According to Lewis however, Vorticists did not aim to reproduce the quality and or the dynamism that the Futurists aimed for. Lewis wrote “The Vorticist is at his maximum point of energy when stillest” He would try capture not the storm but the calm at its centre.

Vorticist art often anything but still however, and Lewis’ work violate his own principles. Vorticist art is eclectic and at times suggesting Picasso’s work from the period of Cubism before the first World War To others it suggests the works of  Italian Futurists, “especially their so called lines of force”. Both of these components can be seen in Lewis’ abstract work title Composition (see picture below)

Composition 1913 by Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957Although it is more Cubist than Futuristic in feeling, its non objectivity goes even further than any Cubist work had done to that date. Christopher Nevinson’s Returning to the Trenches (see picture below) shows similar fusions of style, but the lines of force are also reminiscent of some Futurists work for example Luigi Russlo’ The Revolt (see picture below).



Loss, A. 1992, “”Vile Bodies,” Vorticism, and Italian Futurism”, Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 155-164.




Simon Gardiner

“In these pieces I deconstruct and reconstruct photographs for a new visual reality.”- Simon Gardiner

Simon Gardiner has done groups of work titled Upside I and Upside II  which have strong geometry lines, symmetry and look like a kaleidoscope. Like Filip Dujardin and  Kawahara Kazuhiko his photographs are mostly of architecture. On his website he says that he was initially inspired by the movie Inception then he became more interested in architectural de-constructivism. The ideas of fragmentation and manipulating ideas of a structure’s surface or skin are some of the elements that characterize de-constructivism. He says “the finished visual appearance of buildings that exhibit the many de-constructivist “styles” is characterized by a stimulating unpredictability and a controlled chaos.” And he defines his photography as  de-constructivism photography.


Vortogaphy experiments from others

Whilst doing my research on vorticism and vortographs I have found so photographers who have done some vortograph experiements. The images below were taken and created by a photographer and printmaker called Wilson Hurst. I like his photographs because they resemble Alvin Langdon Coburn, and it is interesting to look at a modern version of them in colour. Also this looks like the kalaedescope look/effect was done during production as opposed to post production like Kawahara Kazuhiko’s work

Another person I found is a blogger and amateur photographer who just goes by their blog name of Canoe Communications. What I like about this work is that they have experimented with nature and vortographs. I have been thinking about nature inspired photography but had been having trouble visualising how it would work and what it would look like. Therefore looking at this person’s work has provided inspiration. You can also see the pictorialist/Alfred Stieglitz inspirationin some of the images.

The third person that I looked at is Tess Wyatt who took some vortographs by creating a kaleidoscope made out of styrene glass. They took pictures of flowers, crotchet and other things that they were interested in. Looking at these there photographers works has made me start to think about whether I’d want to create my vortographs post production or during production. And if I was to do it during production which materials who I need to make my own ‘vortoscope’ and how I would take the photographs.

These three examples that I have looked at has helped me realise that vortographs don’t strictly have to look the same and so industrial like some of Coburn’s vortographs.