Penmen and brushmen: The remediation of word and image in the work of Wyndham Lewis and David Jones

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Historians of graphic design have tended to trace the consolidation of their subject as a distinct discipline to the Modernist moment in Europe. The awkward assimilation of Modernist manners in Britain meant that the transition from traditional commercial artistry to full-blown graphic design was a sluggish one. In his attempt to trace the growth of a distinctively British graphic design, Richard Hollis has pointed to both the short-lived Vorticist journal, Blast (two issues, 1914-15), and the typographic work of Eric Gill. In highlighting these important conjunctions of text and image, Hollis effectively supplies a pair of contrasting coordinates by which we might identify the neglected and complex figure of the British artistwriter, Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), the presiding spirit of Vorticism, and David Jones (1895-1974), who was closely associated with Gill's Arts and Crafts-style Guild of St Dominic during the 1920S. The dual creative practice of these artistwriters not only links them with the restlessly visionary line of Thomas Chatterton (1753-70) and William Blake (1757-1827), but also suggests ways in which their work — for all its undoubted scepticism about modern life — might script narratives of contemporary consciousness, looking towards the mixed-media art-forms of our own age. Although they have often been seen as peripheral figures, they should, in fact, be recognized for their intricate and vital responses to the intensified relationship between text and image
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-14
Number of pages11
JournalWord and Image: a journal of verbal/visual enquiry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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