According to recent studies, modernist writers, far from experiencing what Huyssen calls “an anxiety of contamination” by mass culture, relied on the logic of the marketplace to promote their writings and themselves. An interesting case is that of Wyndham Lewis, who was ready to exploit the avant-garde’s internal differences and rivalries, in the attempt to make a place for himself on the cultural scene of pre-war London, as his tumultuous and short-lived affiliations with Fry’s Omega Workshops and Futurism attest. Lewis, it appears, had mixed feelings towards groups and movements: though aware of the wider visibility “the combination of forces” could confer on his work, he was convinced that art was an individual endeavour. Moreover, he was incapable of sharing the scene with the leading figures of his time. They, nonetheless, seem to have influenced his self-fashioning as an artist, acting as “visionary others”, against whom he measured himself and his achievements, thus creating his own recognizable style, which culminated in Blast, itself as aggressively antagonistic as its editor. The essay aims to analyse how Lewis shaped his artistic persona in his youth, also drawing on his autobiographical writings, where he repeatedly deals with issues such as reputation and publicity. In shedding light on his early self-fashioning, these later accounts also testify to his life-long revision of his own image.

Crossing the Great Divide: Wyndham Lewis's Early Self-Fashioning as an Artist

Flora de Giovanni
2019

Abstract

According to recent studies, modernist writers, far from experiencing what Huyssen calls “an anxiety of contamination” by mass culture, relied on the logic of the marketplace to promote their writings and themselves. An interesting case is that of Wyndham Lewis, who was ready to exploit the avant-garde’s internal differences and rivalries, in the attempt to make a place for himself on the cultural scene of pre-war London, as his tumultuous and short-lived affiliations with Fry’s Omega Workshops and Futurism attest. Lewis, it appears, had mixed feelings towards groups and movements: though aware of the wider visibility “the combination of forces” could confer on his work, he was convinced that art was an individual endeavour. Moreover, he was incapable of sharing the scene with the leading figures of his time. They, nonetheless, seem to have influenced his self-fashioning as an artist, acting as “visionary others”, against whom he measured himself and his achievements, thus creating his own recognizable style, which culminated in Blast, itself as aggressively antagonistic as its editor. The essay aims to analyse how Lewis shaped his artistic persona in his youth, also drawing on his autobiographical writings, where he repeatedly deals with issues such as reputation and publicity. In shedding light on his early self-fashioning, these later accounts also testify to his life-long revision of his own image.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4731155
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