The Caliph’s Design
Wyndham Lewis

The Caliph’s Design

Edited by Paul Edwards

Published by Black Sparrow Press
188 pages, Softcover
6" x 9" (152 x 229 mm)
22 b/w illustrations, English
ISBN: 978-0-87685-664-2


In Stock

Wyndham Lewis has been called the most neglected great British artist, but Lewis’s art criticism has been even more neglected than his own art. In this series of succinct, barbed essays, first published in 1919 and long out of print, he mounts an energetic defense of modern art — and attacks those distortions of it perpetrated by what he calls “art parasites.”
Ever the enemy of dilettantism, Lewis separates true creativity from fakery. Witty demolitions of the English aesthetes, Roger Fry and the Omega workshop, are his main order of business; he also dismisses most faux-Naif paintings as “the infantile swank of the deformed,” and mocks the Futurist artist, who behaves “like a religious fanatic about a sausage machine or a locomotive.” Cézanne, the “lonely source” of what Lewis admires in modern art, has been sadly superseded, in his view, by eclectic “performers,” Picasso-imitators who change styles like overcoats.
In this brilliant analysis of the pendulum swings of Fashion in the art world, as relevant today as when it was written, Lewis advocates a high standard for the modern artist to live up to:
How we ‘need’ and can use this freedom that we have is to invent a mode that will answer to the great mass sensibility of our time. We want to construct hardily and profoundly without a hard-dying autocratic convention to dog us and interfere with our proceedings. But we want ‘one’ mode, for there ‘is’ only one mode for any one time, and all the other modes are for other times. Except as objects of technical interest and indirect stimulus, they have nothing to do with us. And it is not on the sensibility of the amateur, which is always corrupted, weak, and at the mercy of any wind that blows, that the painter should wish to build…