Tom Rosenthal

Rise, fall and rise of an artist

It will be interesting to see if next week’s full-scale Wyndham Lewis (1882–1957) exhibition at Olympia will help, as previous Olympia shows have done, to cement the artist’s reviving reputation. Certainly the timing is good in relation to last month’s scholarly symposium and the excellent recent exhibition concentrating on his works on paper, both at the Courtauld, where the growing number of his pictures controlled by the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust are stored and available to researchers.

Angus Stewart, curator, together with Matthew Hall, of the Olympia exhibition, contribute a spirited re-assessment of Lewis to the catalogue, which has been printed by Apollo and has a preface by its editor suggesting that Lewis’s reputation has been at least partly held back by his admiration for Hitler.

I’m not sure that this is entirely valid. No one fails to extol T.S. Eliot, whose anti-Semitism was manifest and, so far as I know, was neither withdrawn nor recanted. Pound, while recognised as conveniently dotty for his fascism, is still read and prescribed widely. Lewis at least, by the end of the 1930s, had seen the catastrophic error of his early enthusiasm for the F

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