What is vorticism?

   Vorticism is a movement in post-impressionistic art. It arose as a development from and a reaction to cubism. Like the latter, it did not try to imitate the forms of nature, but, unlike the older movement, it sought to portray more vivid emotions. Cubism was more a decorative art than anything else, and vorticism sought to enliven the canvas with a more turbulent activity. It sought to arrange the shapes, planes, or colors as a composer arranges notes. The expression-idea, or image, was conceived as a vortex, into which particles of associated ideas were set into motion. A vortex, in physics, implies a continuous stream of energy, and it was the transposition of this idea into painting and the terminology of aesthetics that resulted in the school. Unlike most movements in art since the impressionists, vorticism arose not in Paris but in London. The innovator was Wyndham Lewis, who was followed by Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Wadsworth, Roberts, Nevinson, and Etchells. At first the ideas of these men were ridiculed; Epstein's "Madonna and Child" was considered ungainly and crude. But Wyndham Lewis explained vorticism in a magazine, which he edited, called the Blast. His intellectual and satiric writings stirred much comment about and much sympathy for the new school. Then he won popular favor by painting several vivid and active World War scenes. The Imperial War Museum gave the vorticists official recognition by commissioning them to execute the Canadian war memorials. Vorticism, in painting, is closely connected in thought with imagism in poetry.