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First Exhibition Devoted to Wyndham Lewis Opens in Spain
Wyndham Lewis, La Rendición de Barcelona, 1936-37. Photo: Tate, London.

MADRID.- Wyndham Lewis could be described as a “single-handed avant-garde movement”. An accomplished artist, Lewis founded Vorticism, the only English avant-garde movement, and was the author of more than 50 books. In addition he issued manifestoes, edited and published journals and was responsible for a fascinating and strikingly varied body of work that runs from his vorticist, Cubo-futurist and abstract compositions to his most refined portraits.

Surprisingly, however, “the most fascinating personality of our time”, as T. S. Eliot wrote in 1918, and “the greatest portraitist of this or any other time”, as Walter Sickert hailed him in 1932, is still largely unknown to the general public.

A pioneer of abstraction, war artist, major portraitist, novelist, essayist, editor and critic, Wyndham Lewis is one of the key figures in European modernism of the first half of the 20th century.

This is the first exhibition to be devoted to him in Spain, as well as the most comprehensive to be organised anywhere in the world since the retrospective devoted to Lewis (“Wyndham Lewis and vorticism”) at the Tate Gallery in 1956, one year before his death. The present exhibition presents his life and artistic and literary output through more than 150 works and over 60 books, 10 journals and manifestoes.

Between 5 February and 16 May 2010 the newly enlarged exhibition space of the Fundación Juan March in Madrid will be presenting an exhibition devoted to WYNDHAM LEWIS (1882-1957), comprising a complete survey of his artistic and literary output. Not so much a painter who wrote but rather a painter who was also a writer, Wyndham Lewis is one of the key figures in European modernism in the first half of the 20th century and the creator (in 1914) of Vorticism, the only English avant-garde movement.

Wyndham Lewis was a pioneer of abstraction, a war artist, a major portraitist (among his subjects were contemporary writers such as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Rebecca West and many others), a novelist, essayist, editor, literary and art critic, and a founder and editor of cultural and avant-garde publications such as Blast and The Enemy. The present exhibition on WYNDHAM LEWIS presented by the Fundación Juan March is not only the first to be devoted to him in Spain, but also the most comprehensive to be presented anywhere in the world since his death. In 1956, one year before he died, the Tate Gallery in London organised a major retrospective on Lewis and Vorticism. Since then, various monographic exhibitions have been organised, including one on his portraits that opened at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2008.

The present exhibition at the Fundación Juan March includes more than 150 works of art and over 50 books (first editions of his own writings and others illustrated by Lewis), journals (edited and illustrated by Lewis), catalogues of his exhibitions and a range of accompanying documentation.

The accompanying catalogue is published in two editions (Spanish and English) and includes texts by leading international experts in this field, such as Paul Edwards, author of the major monograph on Wyndham Lewis, and Richard Humphreys, a long-time curator at the Tate Gallery. In addition, there are other texts that relate Lewis to the avant-garde, to war, politics, the intellectual world of his day and even to Spain. These texts have been written by Yolanda Morató, Andrej Gasiorek, Juan Bonilla and Alan Munton. The catalogue includes reproductions and detailed descriptions of all the works on display, in addition to a chronology of the artist, bibliography, list of individual and group exhibitions in which he was involved, and a comprehensive selection of texts by and about Lewis, translated by Yolanda Morató, author of one of the catalogue essays and translator of a number of Lewis’s literary works into Spanish.

The Fundación Juan March is also publishing a facsimilated Spanish edition of the journal Blast, whose first edition (1914) included texts by numerous contemporary writers and friends of Lewis, including Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford and Rebecca West. The project is completed with the publication of Shakespeare’s play Timon of Athens with the illustrations that Lewis prepared for an unpublished English edition of 1912. Lewis’s original drawings, which are on display in the present exhibition, have been included in this bilingual (English and Spanish) version of Shakespeare’s text (by Professor Ángel-Luis Pujante and Salvador Oliva), and are now to be seen as Lewis originally intended.

Fundación Juan March | Wyndham Lewis | Vorticism |

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