'The nearest the general run get to art is Action: sex is their form of art: the battle for existence is their picture.'
Tarr tells the blackly comic story of the lives and loves of two artists, played out against the backdrop of Paris before the start of the First World War - the English enfant terrible Frederick Tarr, and the middle-aged German Otto Kreisler, a failed painter who finds himself in a widening spiral of militaristic self-destruction. When both become interested in the same two women - Bertha Lunken, a conventional German, and Anastasya Vasek, the ultra-modern international
devotee of 'swagger sex' - Wyndham Lewis sets the stage for a scathing satire of national and social pretensions, the fraught relationship between men and women, and the incompatibilities of art and life.
In his introduction and notes Scott W. Klein explores Lewis's stylistic experimentation within the context of avant-garde movements in painting, and offers new insights into Tarr as a work of mordent wit and enduringly ferocious irony.
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Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was an artist, novelist, and critic. He was the leader of the Vorticist movement in art and, with Ezra Pound, edited the only two issues of Blast, the great manifesto of the modern art movement and one of the seminal texts of twentieth-century modernism. As well as Tarr, Lewis's novels include The Apes of God and The Revenge for Love.