Early tattoo artists…or maybe not

Being a Vorticist is a lonely life. Everybody just wants to friend you.
If there’s one thing we can count on from the British, it’s a list lengthening of Things We Don’t Like. Somewhere in the middle of that list generation, would have been an item from the British Vorticists. If you’re a gallery or museum wonk, Vorticism is usually placed historically in the long shadow of the Italian Futurist movement in the early 20th century. Back then, the Italians welcomed the Brits with open arms; but not surprisingly, Vorticism wasn’t interested.

Anger in profile - and World War One hadn't even started!

The leader of the Vorticism movement, Wyndham Lewis, actually exploded in sceptred-isle majesty upon learning that the Futurist leader, Filippo Marinetti, was promoting Vorticism as like-minded revolutionaries for Victorian England. Somehow, Lewis couldn’t have been more insulted. How dare someone include him in their success. Vorticism can fail on its own two feet thank you very much, now p*ss off while we watch ourselves slip away into forgotten, pre-World War memory.

Vorticism swallowing itself

Anyway, that was then, and The Isle is still as crabby as ever. Meantime, Tate Britain is providing a rare look at what probably should be a constant exhibit as it’s the only national art movement for the United Kingdomers in the 20th century. Through 4 September 2011, a full and honest showing of the Vorticists is on display, and the images are something for the modern graphic artist. In fact, Wyndham Lewis’ images produced for a Shakespeare programme, “Timon of Athens”, would be revolutionary today as tattoo, or laptop skin protector, or even fabric print design. The angry Vorticist at the time completely missed a trick I reckon; although admittedly, tattoos and laptops weren’t as prevalent back then. Still, maybe they should have consulted the Futurists about their… well… future.

With this on your laptop, think of the cafe conversations it would start.

Inspiration brought to you by David Green @ ContemporaryMonkey