David Bomberg

1890                                                                                           Born December 5 in Birmingham, the fifth child of a Polish immigrant leather worker.

1895
The Family moved to Whitechapel, in the East End of London, where Bomberg lived until 1913.

1904
Began visiting the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum to practice drawing.

1906-07
Apprenticed to the German immigrant lithographer Paul Fisher at Islington.Studied at Walter Baye's evening classes at City and Guild. Met Ossip Zadkine.

1907
Met John Singer Sargent while drawing at the Victoria and Albert Museum and, through him, Solomon J Solomon RA.

1908
Attended classes in book production and lithography at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, and Sickert's evening classes at the Westminster School.

1910
Visited Roger Fry's Manet and the Post Impressionists' exhibition at the Grafton Galleries, where he saw Cezanne's work for the first time.

1911
Entered the Slade School of Art. Fellow students included Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, William Roberts, Edward Wadsworth and Mark Gertler. His works of the period show an interest in reconciling the Renaissance tradition with recent French painting.

1912
Won several awards, among them the Certificate in Drawing. Started a series of paintings based on the modern city. Each canvas took as its starting point an aspect of life in the East End; the first one was "Ju-Jitsu."

1913
Visited Paris with Jacob Epstein, in order to select work for an exhibition of Twentieth Century Art at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Met Picasso, Derain, Modigliani, Max Jacob and Kislin

1914
Founder member of the London Group, in whose first exhibition he showed five works. Exhibited five paintings in the Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition "Twentieth Century Art: A Review of Modern Movements " and organized the Jewish section of the exhibition. Although described in the press as either a Cubist or a Futurist, he kept his distance from both movements and pointed out that: '...where I part company from the leaders of the Futurist movement is in the wholesale condemnation of old art. Art must proceed by evolution. In this sense he agreed with the Vorticists but refused Lewis' invitation to contribute illustrations to the Vorticist's Magazine. First one-man show of fifty-five works held at the Chenil Gallery, Chelsea. Bomberg published a manifesto as the forward to the catalogue where he defined his principal objective as the construction of Pure Form, explaining that his steel city environment impelled him to completely abandon Naturalism and Tradition.

1915
In 1914-15, Bomberg concentrated on watercolours of the Dance theme, interpreting the dancers movements in near-abstract terms. Exhibited six works in the first Vorticist Exhibition at the Dore Galleries. Enlisted in the Royal Engineers, a decision prompted partly by financial duress.

1916
Married Alice Mayes.Did active service in France. His first-handed experience of the devastation wrought by machine-age weapons at the front shattered his belligerent involvement with the dynamism of modern urban life. Mechanistic imagery, which had once been associated with radical construction, became inextricably linked with the spectacle of destruction: in an extended sequence of wash drawings he began to develop a different vision, admitting a greater sense of organic, rounded humanity to figures who were formerly so schematized.

1917  
Received a commission from the Canadian War Memorial Fund for a large painting of 'Sappers at Work'. This was completed in 1919 and is now in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. However, the work accepted by the fund was a second, more realistic and traditional version of the theme, the first one having been rejected because of its experimental elements. The rejection caused great distress to the painter who, for the next couple of years, appeared unable to settle on a language, which satisfied him as completely as his early extremism had once done.

1919
Demobilized from service.One-man show of ink-wash drawings at the Adelphi Gallery, favorably reviewed by Herbert Read. Exhibited with the London group for the first time since 1914.

1922
Visited Lugano with Alice to stay and paint with Ben and Winifred Nicholson. Nicholson's willingness to extend hospitality to Bomberg was a reflection of the high standing he still enjoyed among experimental artists. But the trip was a "great fiasco" according to Alice: 'David hated being hauled out in the snow on painting expeditions, expected to play the maestro and teach them how to paint. Finally their was a show-down and they paid our fares home glad to get rid of us!'

1923
Left for Palestine with Alice, encouraged by Muirhead Bone who thought the newly formed Zionist Organization might be willing to employ him as an official artist in Palestine. Settled in Jerusalem where they remained until the autumn of 1927, renting a house in the hills. This period was a crucial turning point for him; painting landscapes in the open air. Once landscape imagery took hold of Bomberg's imagination humanity never regained the position it had previously occupied in his work. The landscapes and city views painted during this period seem diametrically opposite to Bomberg's pre-war vision; alongside small studies of Jerusalem and Petra which retain all his previous vivacity, other paintings are based on a mimetic approach, a close and meticulous study of nature; they are almost topographical in their fidelity to an observed view, and only the firmness of the overall structure links them with his earlier work.

1927
Returned from Palestine to London, staying in Paris briefly.

1928
One-man exhibition of "Paintings of Palestine and Petra" at the Leicester Galleries, London. His wife Alice told him that the general comment seemed to be: "So many styles - how is one to know the real Bomberg." The artist and Alice separated.

1929
First trip to Spain, where, due to his admiration for El Greco, he settled for a few months in Toledo.
The landscapes he created there arose from intense observation of the motif; however, the forms of the houses and the surrounding landscape were now charged with a new sense of personal urgency, as he allowed himself to fuse the close study of nature with his own passionately subjective response. Andrew forge justly observed of the Toledo canvases that 'an extraordinary strong personal note enters his work at this point; one seems to feel oneself breathing the artist's breath in front of some of these pictures.'

1930
Spent the spring in Morocco and the Greek Islands before returning to London ill with jaundice. Settled with Lilian Holt, also a painter.
Painted a remarkable set of portraits of Lilian and himself which exhibit a new vigor, insight and readiness to give the paint a boldly manipulated eloquence: a work such as 'Red Hat' demonstrates an especially eruptive desire to explore the possibilities of vehement mark-making.

1932
At about this time Bomberg was introduced to Arthur Willey who was buying pictures for three collectors in Bradford. Willey brought many paintings from Bomberg; this was one of the rare times that he ever had any substantial patronage or sales during his lifetime. It was these sales that made possible the ensuing trips to Russia and Spain.

1933
Encouraged by his sister Kitty and her husband James Newmark, both Bomberg and Lilian joined the Communist party.
Bomberg painted banners for demonstrations and attended mass unemployment rallies. In July they visited Russia for five months and gradually grew disillusioned with the Communist's effect on art. On return to London they resigned from the Communist Party.

1934
Left for Spain with Lilian, living first at Cuenca and then Ronda in Andalucia. In Cuenca, Bomberg's brushwork strove for a greater breadth, shedding the intricacy of the 1929 work in favor of a more summary and unified approach to form. As regards Ronda, being it is a fortress-like settlement on a mighty rocky plateau, which rears above the surroundings plain, it was an ideal place for an artist such as Bomberg who wanted to define nature's fundamental dynamism. Entering into a wholehearted engagement with a world riven by conclusive geological stress, he produced there a substantial body of work, most of the canvases employing a greater amount of impasto than before. Dinora, his only child was born.

1935
Moved to the Austrian Mountains, where Bomberg expected to be challenged by scenery more rugged and epic in its immensity than Ronda could provide.
The onset of internal dissensions in Spain became so alarming that the family hurried down the Santander in time to catch a boat for England just before the Civil War broke out.

1936
June, one-man exhibition at the Cooling Gallery, which was treated with, disdain by most critics, largely ignored by reviewers and, moreover, didn't sell anything.

1937
Turned to portraits of himself and his immediate family. Retrospective exhibition of 25 works with Margarete Hamerschlag and Horace Bodzky at the Foyle Art Gallery. From this date onwards exhibited in almost every annual London group exhibition until his death. Commissioned by the London Co-operative Societies' Joint Education Committee to 'design scenery and costumes' for a production of Handel's "Belshazzar": before the end of the year the project foundered, reinforcing Bomberg's dissatisfaction with Britain's inability to support its artists.

1939
Took part in "Mural Painting in Great Britain: 1919-1939" at the Tate Gallery.

1940
Married Lilian.

1942
After his application as War Artist has been refused twice; Bomberg was commissioned by the War Artists Committee to produce a painting of an underground bomb store. Fascinated by the bombs stacked in the dis-used mines, he produced a large number of images, all showing his consciousness of the bombs' destructive purpose. The painting was rejected by the committee who then accepted three bomb store drawings.

1943
Bomberg suffered increasingly from long periods of depression during which he was unable to paint but encouraged by Lilian, he began a series of flower paintings. The outcome was a group of paintings, which rejoiced in the exuberance of the blooms and the leaves thrusting their impetuous way out of the vases scarcely able to contain them, with vehemence reminiscent of the bomb-blasts so familiar to Londoners during the years of Hitler's blitz.

1944
Taught drawing to gun crews in Hyde Park. Held various part-time teaching posts at Hammersmith, Battersea and Clapham.

1945-49
Taught drawing one day a week at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London.

1945-53
Taught drawing part-time at the Borough Polytechnic. Students included Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach. The Latter described his teacher as 'probably the most original, stubborn, radical intelligence that there was to be found in art schools' and added that in those classes there was an atmosphere of research and of radicalism which was extremely stimulating. For him teaching was a total activity and there are few paintings from these years.Those, which were produced, were mostly done during his visits to Devon and Cornwall in the summers of 1946 and 1947.

1947
Foundation of the Borough Group. The Group held seven exhibitions between 1947 and its dissolution in 1950. The first exhibition was held at the Archer Gallery for which Bomberg wrote the forward to the catalogue 'Approach to Painting' but did not exhibit. He showed work in all their consecutive exhibitions.

1948
Cliff Holden resigned from presidency of the Borough Group and Bomberg replaced him. Leslie Marr funded a painting trip to Cyprus for the whole family; Lillian, her daughter Dinora, Leslie who was married to Dinora, their daughter Juliet and the Bomberg's daughter Diana. Cyprus ' colours helped Bomberg to develop a more intense palette in works, which are often inflammatory in their impact. There he produced some of his finest landscapes but they were to be the last paintings Bomberg painted for four years.

1951
Exhibited a few of the 1948 landscapes in the London Group show; in his review, John Berger declared that perhaps the most outstanding painting is a ravine landscape by David Bomberg. Bomberg's apparently careless and passionate use of paint adds weight and guts to it, one is thrilled by a brush mark as a juicy slash of paint and as a precise statement of the angle of declivity of a gully, seen through atmosphere.

1953-54
Lived at Dinora's house where 'Mother of Venus' was painted during a temporary rift with Lilian.

1953
Formation of the Borough Bottega at the Heffer Gallery Cambridge. Moved with Lilian to Ronda, Andalucia where they made a short-lived attempt to found a school of painting and drawing, which would pursue the principles upheld at the Borough classes.The disappointment did at least give Bomberg more time to concentrate on his own work. The late Ronda works disclose a poignant awareness of the tension between vibrant energy and evanescence, substance and dissolution. Working now from an isolated semi-derelict house outside Ronda, situated on a promontory facing the town, the aging Bomberg became increasingly conscious of transience.

1956
Tate Gallery staged 'Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism' exhibition in which Bomberg had just one untypical drawing of the 'Jewish Theatre'. His major early works of the period 'The Mud Bath', 'The Vision of Ezekiel' and 'In the Hold' had been forgotten in storage. Nor were they shown at the memorial exhibition organized by the Arts Council in 1958. William Roberts wrote to Bomberg in Spain urging him to defend himself. Bomberg became increasingly depressed at his lack of recognition and misrepresentation as a 'Vorticist' and spent much of his last year writing letters justifying the direction and purpose of his art, none of which he ever sent.

1957
Resigned from the London Group who made him an honorary life member. Helen Lessore wrote to Bomberg proposing a large retrospective exhibition at the Beaux Art Gallery in 1958. Bomberg declined feeling that the Arts Council was a more appropriate body to assemble such a large and important show.Became seriously ill in May and was moved to a hospital in Gibraltar. Came back to London and died two days later in St Thomas s Hospital on 19 August.

 

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1914 
The Chenil Gallery, London

1919 
Adelphi Gallery, London

1923 
Mansard Gallery, London

1928 
Leicester Gallery, London

1929 
Ruskin Gallery, Birmingham

1932
Bloomsbury Gallery, London

1936
The Cooling Galleries, Ltd, London

1937
Foyle Gallery, London

1943 
Leger & Son, London

1954 
Heffer Gallery, Ambridge

1958 
The Arts Council of Great Britain, traveling exhibition: Laing Art Gallery Newcastle; Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea; Kettering Art Gallery; Municipal Art Gallery, Middlesborough and Bradford City Art Gallery.

1960 
Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry

1961
Hope Hall, Liverpool.

1964 
Marlborough Fine Art, London.

1967 
Tate Gallery, London, Art Council Exhibition, traveling: Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; Manchester City Art Gallery; Bristol City Art Gallery and Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham. Marlborough Fine Art, London.

1971
d'Offay Couper Gallery, Lonon. Reading Museum and Art Gallery.

1973
Fischer Fine Art Ltd, London.

1979 
The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.

1983 
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

1984 
Ben Uri Gallery, London.

1985 
Fischer Fine Art Ltd, London. Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London

1988 
Tate Gallery, London. Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London. Gillian Jason Gallery, Lonon. Fischer Fine Art Ltd, Lonon. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

1991 
Fine Arts Museum San Francisco

2000 
Bernard Jacobson Gallery