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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Painting of the Month (79) Feb 2018: David Bomberg

David Bomberg, In The Hold, 1913-14, Tate, London
David Bomberg (1891 - 1957) was a British artist, a student of the Slade School of Art and a member of the 'Whitechapel Boys'. This cubist-influenced painting was made before the First World War, and like so many others, when he returned from war his outlook and style changed.
In this picture he has retained the lines from where he had squared up his preliminary work leaving a grid of cubist-type patterning and has dissolved the image into fragments.. However the work is not abstract; left of centre a figure in blue can be clearly seen working in the hold of a ship in London docks and lower-right a ladder can be observed leading out of the hold. You have to work to see it!
There is actually a cross depicted in every single square and strong diagonals in both directions across the whole surface. In fact the longer I look at this painting the more things I see. It's a monumental piece - more than six feet along each edge.
The Whitechapel Boys were a group of Jewish artists in the East End of London during the first quarter of the twentieth century, a place of ever-changing immigrant populations. A remarkable group of artists and writers emerged from the group which included Mark Gertler.
David Bomberg: Two self-portraits and a photograph
I am listening to Linda Ronstadt's version of Neil Young's Birds. It's a lovely song which I always seem to prefer sung by a female vocalist. There is a delicate vulnerable version by the English singer Kathryn Williams here.


Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, I admire the color and pattern distribution in this painting by David Bomberg. While certain strongly geometric patterns can possess a dizzying quality, which this one does to a degree, I agree with you that this painting repays close inspection. After first discerning a kaleidoscopic fracturing of the underlying scene, I decided later that the way the central blue tones play out toward red ones at the edges resembles the refracting of light by a large faceted gemstone.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - Bomberg has an interesting background to his art and the understanding of his expressing what he can see ... I'd like to know more about the Canadian connection. Jim's comment really adds to your post ...

Thanks though for introducing me to him ... I hadn't heard of him - so this is interesting ... cheers Hilary

Hels said...

The Whitechapel Boys were brave lads and really interesting artists, born the excitement and poverty of East End of London. I didn't enjoy or understand Bomberg's pre-war experiments with Cubist, abstractish paintings of 1913 and 1914, but I love his colourful portraits and landscapes of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. That is when he favoured a loose, expressive style, sometimes filled with Fauvist-like colours.

I know why he went abroad so much, but I wonder what changed his mind about art styles?

bazza said...

Jim: I had not really thought much about the colour aspect of this painting so thanks for mentioning that point. The idea of a multi-faceted image was possibly not something that modernism encompassed although I'm not to certain on that point. It's interesting.

bazza said...

Hilary: I'm not sure where the Canadian connection comes in! Bomberg is not well known but is generally highly-regarded by those who 'do know'!

bazza said...

Hels: I actually prefer his cubist work but have to admit that I'm not too familiar with his later painting. I think that the Great War was what caused him to change from an appreciation of the brave new world of the machine age; a cruel reality must have set in.

Hels said...

Hilary and bazza

Bomberg had been a soldier in the trenches during WW1 but then he was invited to be the artist by the Canadian War Memorial Fund. His main task was to memorialise the brave Canadian Tunnelers who dug under the German trenches, in order to lay explosives. At least one of the paintings of the "Sappers" can be seen at the National Gallery of Canada.

bazza said...

Hels: Thanks for that further useful information. I am considering Paul Nash as a future subject and it may be interesting to compare their different styles as War Artists.

E Berris said...

I've enjoyed Bomberg's work in exhibitions and this one is quite a challenge!. If you discuss war artists (Nash) do look at Christopher Nevinson too - he seemed to be able to move between many different styles, whether to suit himself or the sponsor?

bazza said...

E Berris: I will look at Nevinson. I know the name but not much about him. I post about an artist once a month so probably Nash later this year and maybe Nevinson later! Thamks for visiting.