David Bomberg

Summary

David Garshen Bomberg (Birmingham, December 5, 1890 – London, August 19, 1957) was a British painter of Jewish and Polish descent.

Born in Birmingham, Bomberg was the son of a tanner of Jewish and Polish descent. In 1895, Bomberg moved to London where he remained until the age of 23. During the early twentieth century, Bomberg joined the Whitechapel circle of artists of Jewish descent, which included Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg, and was a student of Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Art, an institution in which they studied, in addition to the aforementioned Gertler, Stanley Spencer, Christopher R.W. Nevinson and Dora Carrington. During the years immediately preceding World War I, Bomberg painted a series of complex anthropomorphic, geometric and angular compositions that featured a limited number of colors and followed in the wake of Cubism and Futurism. Some of his works were created using grid-like structures that divided the canvas into a pattern of squares. In 1913, the year he was expelled from the Slade School of Art because of his unconventional and radical painting approach at the behest of Tonks, Frederick Brown, and Philip Wilson Steer, the artist traveled to Paris with Jacob Epstein and embraced Vorticism, of which he was an acclaimed exponent.

Having lost faith in the machine age because of his experiences as a trench soldier, and because of his skepticism about British modernism, which he judged retrograde, Bomberg converted in the 1920s to a more figurative style that was increasingly dominated by portraits and natural landscapes. He also stopped frequenting the lively London art scene and traveled extensively in the following years, living in Palestine between 1923 and 1927 and in Spain between 1934 and 1935. All the while, his art began to increasingly resonate with the lessons of expressionism.

From 1945 to 1953, he worked as a teacher at London Borough Polytechnic (now London South Bank University) and had among his students Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Philip Holmes, Cliff Holden, Edna Mann, Dorothy Mead, Gustav Metzger, Dennis Creffield, Cecil Bailey and Miles Richmond. The South Bank University dormitory known as David Bomberg House was dedicated to him. He was married to landscape architect Lilian Holt. He died in London in 1957.

Sources

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