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In July 1914, visitors to David Bomberg’s first solo show believed that the radical, young artist had broken all ties with the established, Old Masters: an unusual move in a time when many artists were lost in their reverence for the past. At the height of his rebellious period, Bomberg had no hesitation in declaring how much he hated ‘the Fat Man of the Renaissance’.

But, in our works on display in the Gallery, you can see how Bomberg’s radical art is inspired by key aspects of tradition. Although Bomberg denounced an over-reliance on the past, his urge to innovate went hand in hand with a profound engagement with the older art he admired. 

The young Bomberg learned a lot from his favourite painters and sculptors, studying them very closely. Their work helped him leap forward and added to the language of 20th-century modernist art at its most audacious.