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Wyndham Lewis's Cultural Criticism and the Infrastructures of Patronage$
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Nathan O'Donnell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621662

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621662.001.0001

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(p.219) Afterword
Wyndham Lewis's Cultural Criticism and the Infrastructures of Patronage

Nathan O'Donnell

Liverpool University Press

This brief afterword focuses on a late proposal by Lewis for a book that was never published, expanding on the critical Listener article, ‘Bread and Ballyhoo’, in which he mounted his critique of the Arts Council of Great Britain. This proposition demonstrates some of the key critical concerns for Lewis in relation to visual art in the last years of his life; his fears about the direction of art education; the perpetuation of class inequality within the arts; and the perceived failure of the establishment to recognise and nurture new talent. Some of these concerns ultimately fed into his 1954 book, The Demon of Progress in the Arts, in which he articulated his support for a new school of painting – including figures like Francis Bacon, Michael Ayrton, and Robert Colquhoun – within a framework of anti-abstraction and a critique of the newly-formed ICA. This afterword explores and contextualises these late manifestations of Lewis’s critical energies, surveying his late recognition as a writer and artist in the 1950s, before his reputational decline into obscurity after his death, an obscurity which prevailed until recent decades.

Keywords:   The Listener, The Demon of Progress in the Arts, The English School, Post-WWII, Patronage, Painting, Herbert Read

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