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Radical Women: Jessica Dismorr and her Contemporaries

[ Exhibition )

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Abstract painting featuring overlapping geometric shapes,

Jessica Dismorr, Abstract Composition, c.1915, oil on wood, 41.3 x 50.8 cm © Tate, London 2019

Discover a fascinating history of alliances and connections among the women artists of the early 20th century, centred on the pioneering work of Jessica Dismorr (1885 – 1939).

An artist at the forefront of the avant-garde in Britain – from her involvement with the Rhythm group during the late 1910s, to vorticism, post-war figuration and the abstraction of the 1930s – Jessica Dismorr (1885 – 1939)  has since, unjustly, fallen into obscurity.

The exhibition will explore how Dismorr and her female contemporaries engaged with modernist literature and radical politics through their art, including their contributions to campaigns for women’s suffrage and the anti-fascist organisations of the 1930s. 80 works including paintings, sculptures, graphic art and archival materials, some of which have never been exhibited before, will be on show.

Artists included in the exhibition will be Dismorr’s fellow Rhythmists, Anne Estelle Rice and Ethel Wright; Helen Saunders, the only other female founding signatory of the Vorticists; Paule Vezelay, who showed with Dismorr with the London Group, and Sophie Fedorovitch and Winifred Nicholson who exhibited at the Seven and Five Society in the 1920s. Dismorr was one of only seven British women at D.O.O.D (de Olympiade onder Dictatuur) Amsterdam in 1936, the exhibition designed to counter Josef Goebbels’ Nazi Art Olympiad, and her work will be seen for the first time in the company of other women who exhibited with anti-fascist organisations in the 1930s, including Edith Rimmington, Betty Rae and Barbara Hepworth.

She pursued her work despite periods of debilitating mental illness, and died in London by her own hand in August 1939.

A fully illustrated book published by Lund Humphries will tell the story of Dismorr’s life and work in relation to her women contemporaries, and include a collection of her poetry.