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David Bomberg

David Garshen Bomberg

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David Garshen Bomberg (5 December 1890 – 19 August 1957) was an English painter, and one of the Whitechapel Boys.

Bomberg was one of the most audacious of the exceptional generation of artists who studied at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks, and which included Mark Gertler, Stanley Spencer, C.R.W. Nevinson and Dora Carrington. Bomberg painted a series of complex geometric compositions combining the influences of cubism and futurism in the years immediately preceding World War I; typically using a limited number of striking colours, turning humans into simple, angular shapes, and sometimes overlaying the whole painting a strong grid-work colouring scheme. He was expelled from the Slade School of Art in 1913, with agreement between the senior teachers Tonks, Frederick Brown and Philip Wilson Steer, because of the audacity of his breach from the conventional approach of that time.

Whether because his faith in the machine age had been shattered by his experiences as a private soldier in the trenches or because of the pervasive retrogressive attitude towards modernism in Britain Bomberg moved to a more figurative style in the 1920s and his work became increasingly dominated by portraits and landscapes drawn from nature. Gradually developing a more expressionist technique, he travelled widely through the Middle East and Europe.

From 1945 to 1953, he worked as a teacher at Borough Polytechnic (now London South Bank University) in London, where his pupils included Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Philip Holmes, Cliff Holden, Edna Mann, Dorothy Mead, Gustav Metzger, Dennis Creffield, Cecil Bailey and Miles Richmond. David Bomberg House, one of the student halls of residences at London South Bank University, is named in his honor. He was married to landscape painter Lilian Holt.

Bomberg was born in the Lee Bank area of Birmingham on 5 December 1890. He was the seventh of eleven children of a Polish Jewish immigrant leatherworker, Abraham, and his wife Rebecca. He was Orthodox but she less so and supported David's painting ambitions. In 1895, his family moved to Whitechapel in the East End of London where he was to spend the rest of his childhood.

After studying art at City and Guilds, Bomberg returned to Birmingham to train as a lithographer but quit to study under Walter Sickert at Westminster School of Art from 1908 to 1910. Sickert's emphasis on the study of form and the representation of the "gross material facts" of urban life were an important early influence on Bomberg, alongside Roger Fry's 1910 exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists, where he first saw the work of Paul Cézanne.

Bomberg's artistic studies had involved considerable financial hardship but in 1911, with the help of John Singer Sargent and the Jewish Education Aid Society, he was able to attain a place at the Slade School of Art.

At Slade School of Fine Art Bomberg was one of the remarkable generation of artists described today as the school's "crisis of brilliance" that studied under Henry Tonks and included Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg. Bomberg and Rosenberg, from similar backgrounds, had met some years earlier and became close friends as a result of their mutual interests.

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David Bomberg Famous works
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