by Scholes, Robert
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(Percy) Wyndham Lewis (1882 - 1957)
He was born on a yacht near Amherst, Nova Scotia, but was sent to school in England in 1888. He attended the Rugby School and the Slade School of Art, but was asked to leave both of them. He exhibited with the Camden Town Group in 1911, but quarelled with Walter Sickert and left. He exhibited briefly with the Omega workshops in 1913, but quarelled with Roger Fry and left. He was a founding member of the London Group in late 1913. In 1914 he joined the Rebel Art Centre--the most extremely modernist of all these groups. He became a difficult, talented man, and a bitter one. Influenced by the thought of T. E. Hulme, who wrote often for The New Age until his death during the Great War, Lewis became the arch-modernist: hard, anti-romantic and anti-sentimental to the point of brutality. He was extremely gifted as a visual artist and brought his own version of cubism and futurism to England. Working with Ezra Pound, he called it "Vorticism," and argued for it in the short-lived but now famous magazines, Blast and The Tyro. With Pound, T. S. Eliot, Ford Madox Hueffer, and James Joyce, Lewis was one of the "Men of 1914." Lewis represented male modernism at its most misogynistic, and he most fully embodied and enacted the tendency in modernism that led toward fascism, though, unlike Pound, he retreated from it in his later years. He wrote many works of fiction and cultural criticism that are still of considerable interest today.