David Bomberg

The Players, 1919

Pencil and ink wash on paper
25.4 x 20.3 cm

1923, Irrigation, Zionist Development, Palestine, 1923

Oil on board
32 x 40.2 cm
Titled, dated and inscribed ‘authenticated by Lilian Bomberg’ on label verso

DAVID BOMBERG British, 1890-1957

David Bomberg was a British painter best known for his brash, angular avant-garde works.

Born in Birmingham, from the age of 15 he studied at lithographer and from 17 he studied art history at the Westminster School of Art, working as an assistant in the workshop of John Sargent. On the advice of Sargent, he went on to study at the Slade School of Art, London with other artists like Stanley Spencer and Dora Carrington, from where he was expelled two years later: the mentors found the views and works of Bomberg too radical.

He then became a member of the Whitechapel Boys, a group of London based Jewish artists and writers who were particularly interested in exploring political ideologies, including socialism.

Bomberg is spoken of as one of the founders of Vorticism, a purely English modernist invention, close to futurism. However, he himself diligently disowned from belonging to any trends or art groups.

David Bomberg was severely impacted by World War I and its aftermath, and in the interwar period he instead began working primarily on more traditional landscape paintings, reminiscent of Post-Impressionist painting. After the First World War (Bomberg visited the front and saw enough of guns, tanks and bombs), the artist somewhat lost interest in industrial aesthetics, broke with the communist party, began to resort to figurative statements more often.

If his students are Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossof - went to success hard and slowly, then Bomberg did not live to see him. He died in 1957 almost in poverty. He did not suspect that after death he would be proclaimed one of the most important British artists. What will be counted from him such an outstanding phenomenon as the "London School". He relates to the London School as an inspirer, teacher, or forerunner — by the time this term appeared, Bomberg was 19 years old as dead.

Tate, London held a high-profile retrospective on the artist’s work on the 30th anniversary of death of David Bomberg.