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Searchlights

Nevinson, Christopher Richard Wynne (1889-1946), 1915, Searchlights

This remarkable 'war' painting shows the searchlights at Hungerford Bridge at Charing Cross in 1915, surely a remarkable and new visual experience for anyone at that time. For the artist, Nevinson, an admirer of the Italian Futurists, especially Marinetti, it was almost a symbol of the modern world. He and his fellow Vorticists - the first genuinely avant - garde art movement to emerge in England just before the First World War - believed that the machine age represented the future for art as well as life. Their art derived from the multi view-point imagery of Cubism while the jagged lines, busy surface and shattered forms seemed particularly appropriate to the machine imagery of war scenes. Nevinson lived in Paris 1912 - 13 where he shared a studio with Modigliani and came to know the Italian Futurists. He began plans for an English version of the movement and published 'Vital English Art: A Futurist Manifesto' in June 1914. When war broke out Nevinson joined up and eventually he became an official war artist specialising in views of planes and land from the air.