I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Ahead of the Curve

Vorticism: New Perspectives, Mark Antliff and Scott W Klein (eds): Oxford University Press, 320 pp, £50, ISBN: 978-0199937660 The concatenation and growth of scientific theories … may be like the growth of a tree, which from the start is destined for a certain height, volume and longevity. The human mind, evolving its theorizing chain, may have such a circumscribed and restricted destiny … If you take this restricted point of view (and all human life is lived in some such assumption) art then will always be its ultimate necessity: it is what the philosopher comes to out of the discomfiture of his system; what, for the man in the street, cannot with impunity be divorced from the attitudes and very form of his religious belief; and it is the ideal check on the mechanical encroachments of science. ‑ Wyndham Lewis: “Essay on the objective of plastic art in our time” in Tyro, No 2, 1922 Vorticism is the name given to a very improbable moment in the history of twentieth century painting when, for a couple of years more or less coinciding with the outbreak of the First World War, a group of English painters appeared who could be counted among the most radically “abstract” painters in Europe ‑ indeed they could well be regarded as the most radical, perhaps even the first, group of abstract painters, since Kandinsky, despite his close association with the Blaue Reiter, Kupka, despite his association with the Cubists, and Mondrian were still working as isolated individuals and Malevich had not yet produced his first “Suprematist” work. The emergence of Vorticism was all the more improbable because nothing in English painting seemed to have prepared the way for it. Surprising as Cubism was when the French public first became aware of it in 1910-11, it had been preceded by a series of “avant-garde” developments, all of which had a tendency to detach the understanding of colour and the manipulation of shapes from the need to present an illusion of real life in a three-dimensional space. But this had been resisted in England. England had not even experienced Impressionism. The major English Impressionist (Alfred Sisley), the major Irish “synthetist” (of the school of Gauguin and Van Gogh) Roderic O’Conor and the major Scottish fauve, (John Fergusson) all worked in Paris. When Roger Fry launched his exhibition Manet and the Post Impressionists in 1910-11, he was introducing England to…

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