Rain on Princes Street

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 Stanley Cursiter, Rain on Princes Street, 1913
By REID GUEMMER

Vorticism, a British literary and artistic movement, was introduced to the public in the first issue of BLAST. The literary magazine was conducted by Wyndham Lewis with the help of Ezra Pound and many other poets and artists. The first issue, released in 1914, ‘blessed’ or ‘blasted’ a collection of popular ideas and concepts in British culture.

Vorticism resembles a combination of Cubism and Futurism. Although Vorticism resembles Italian Futurism in style and method, the two movements existed in parallel with differing doctrines. In fact, if you were to mention the resemblance to Lewis, he would promptly deny any correlation between the two. Using an extreme urban influence and sharp, defined, shapes to create their works, Vorticism was Wyndham’s attempt to expose culturally isolated England to the different artistic styles of Europe using his own twist.  

Rain of Princes Street was completed a year before Vorticism was publicly introduced, this is evident when looking at the painting because of it’s fluid strokes and movement. Despite the movement having not been fully developed into what it would become in the following years, there is still an industrial feel and qualifying it as a part of the movement.

Through the clear of the umbrellas you see the expressionless faces. A glossy cover makes them appear as if they are made of glass and the clear portion has been shattered. The shattered glass represents the destruction of the economy and general welfare of the British population that World War I. The street lighting contributes to the idea that Rain of Princes Street seems to be foreshadowing the war, as they resemble canons firing.

Vorticism came to an abrupt end at the beginning of World War I, and although short lived it was a pivotal moment for modern art.

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