Once Was Lost, But Now Is Found

Praxitella by Wyndham Lewis, who was the founder of the radical and short-lived Vorticist movement.

“We were flabbergasted. It has taken 100 years to rediscover Atlantic City.”

[Petulant style note: Equally flabbergasting is British journalism’s insufferable convention of not setting off titles with quotes or italics. What two researchers rediscovered was not the coastal city located in New Jersey, but a painting named “Atlantic City” by the artist Helen Saunders.]

Icily repellant, she’s fruit of the Tin Man’s dalliance with a galvanized hussy bucket. “Praxitella” of the ruby lips, faceted contours and catatonic gaze is a morose, Depression-era robot stitched in a tar paper frock with elephantine, copper-banded bloomers. She has the charm of a mud fence. It would take a hydraulic winch to hoist the lump of reductive figuration from her pharaonic chair.

Atlantic City by Helen Saunders, who was one of only two women to join the vorticists. “A black and white image of the painting appeared in Blast, the avant garde journal of the vorticists produced shortly before the outbreak of the first world war.”

Wyndham Lewis’s portrait of film critic Iris Barry is discovered to have been painted on top of a work called “Atlantic City” by fellow Vorticist Helen Saunders. He may have been irritated with Saunders.

An X-ray of Praxitella revealed uneven texture and glimpses of bright red through cracks in the surface paint.

(Harriet Sherwood, “‘Fit of pique’: lost vorticist masterpiece found under portrait by contemporary,” theguardian.com, 8-21-22)

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to Once Was Lost, But Now Is Found

  1. Another fascinating post Jim! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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