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Composition - Crank and Chain
© Estate of Edward Wadsworth. All rights reserved, DACS 2015

Reference URL

Composition - Crank and Chain 1932

Not on display

During the early 1930s, Wadsworth painted in an abstract style, but moved away from the hard, aggressive forms of his earlier vorticist period to naturalistically-inspired shapes. The rounded forms in this painting seem biological in inspiration. For many modern artists, scientific discoveries of a microscopic, biological nature were as stimulating and as suggestive of modernity as new developments in machinery or industry. Wadsworth was in close contact with developments in the French avant-garde, travelling to France regularly and exhibiting there. On the Continent he was recognised, in the early 1930s, as probably Britain's leading abstract artist.

Glossary Open

Abstract art

Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.

Avant garde

Cultural practices that challenge tradition through experimentation and innovation. Originally a military term, in art it is particularly associated with the late 19th and 20th centuries.


The state of embracing the most up-to-date ideas and techniques. In art, the notion is often associated with the 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire who encouraged artists to represent the modern world based on their lived experience.


A radical English art movement of the early 20th century led by Wyndham Lewis. Influenced by the Futurists, they favoured urban, industrial subjects and promoted a hard-edged, angular style.

Abstract art, Avant garde, Modernity, Vorticism


  • Acc. No. GMA 768
  • Medium Tempera on board
  • Size 35.70 x 40.70 cm
  • Credit Presented by Mr and Mrs J.H. Macdonell 1960