DAVID BOMBERG, Visitors, 1919
Our featured artwork this week is by David Bomberg, an artist widely regarded as one of Britain’s greatest 20th century artists. Although he died in 1957 a largely forgotten (or at best ignored) man, his influence on a generation of artists led by Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and Dennis Creffield was profound. For Bomberg, drawing (primarily in ink or charcoal) was as important oil painting and the present work, Visitors, is instantly recognisable as his work.
Bomberg was fortunate to study under Walter Sickert at the Central School of Art and Westminster College, before joining the ranks of the 'golden generation' at the Slade School. Before World War I he worked for a period at Roger Fry's Omega Workshop and he travelled to Paris, meeting Picasso, Derain and Modigliani.
It was during this time that he attracted the attention of Wyndham Lewis who invited him into the Vorticist fold. Bomberg exhibited alongside the Vorticists at the Dore Gallery (London) but never became a formal member of the group. Bomberg also exhibited with the Camden Town Group and was a founding member of the London Group. The war was to have a profound effect on the artist and his work, as it did to many of his contemporaries, and after the cessation of violence he pulled back from the near abstraction of his earlier work to a more figurative and expressionist style.
The present drawing dates from 1919 and forms part of a large series of small ink drawings executed on thin typing paper, reams of which were taken from the office supplies where Bomberg’s first wife Alice worked as a secretary. The drawings were grouped into thematic folios with around 12 works in each folio. The drawings are characterised by their sense of foreboding and claustrophobia, but retain a theatrical element – many resembling stage designs and depicting either actors of theatre goers. The drawings can be seen as a peace time equivalent to the artist’s powerful depictions of Sappers in the trenches. Although these drawings are in parts transitional works, they were very important to Bomberg’s development and often serve as an entry point for collector’s looking to acquire works by the artist.
DAVID BOMBERG (British 1890-1957)
Drawn in 1919
Ink on paper
10 x 8 in / 25.5 x 20 cm cm
Private Collection, UK
(acquired directly from Lilian Holt, the artist’s wife)