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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Jessie Dismorr- Rhythm

I thought some people might appreciate an update on my search for the artist and writer Jessie Dismorr. When I posted in January the only glimpse in to Dismorr's history and her potential corpus of work was an article written by a journalist called Mark Archer about his own difficult search for traces of Jessie. Thanks to a combination of social media and their respective powers, but largely thanks to Reddish, I succeeded in tracking down a PHD thesis which catalogues all of Dismorr's work, traces her genealogy and darts across various archives to map out her life. My favourite discovery has been that the Vorticist artist,whose work in Blast! is based on the bold, violent, abstract lines of machines, began by drawing Romantic female nudes. So here are some startling surprises stolen from an online version of the modernist magazine, Rhythm.

In Rhythm Dismorr was publishing alongside figures such as Pablo Picasso, Katherine Mansfield and a circle of artists connected to the Russian Ballet. This certainly gives her a stronger independent context than historians of Wyndham Lewis might suggest. The bold lines remain but they have an organic solidity. I imagine them as pseudo-pre-raphaelite or Alfons Mucha style stained glass panels. All that romanticism and folly which the Vorticists condemn is a lyrical statement here. An exploration of Dismorr's contexts reveals just how nuanced her approach to various modernist manifestos might be. Now I know I can write my dissertation on her.


  1. thanks for the update. I have the full run of Rhythm magazine and am happy to send you high res scans of all of JD's work, if needed. Thanks

  2. I am so happy to see you have made some discoveries! Amazing how modern technology doesn't just set the stage for the future, but aids in discovering the past! Female artists that established any level of success during the time Art was dominated by men, are such important examples to the contemporary art world. I applaud your efforts Francesca!

  3. Happy to hear that now you know you can make it. I want to know in what context she drew Isadora Duncan (I guess so...the bottom one). Was it with some text?

  4. Each action of the actor on the stage should be the visible concomitant of his thoughts.
    Sarah Bernhardt

    La nudité c'est la vérité,
    c'est la beauté,
    c'est l'Art.

    Isadora Duncan

  5. You make me think, I love your enthusiasm, it is catching.

  6. Thank you for all your comments. I also assume it is an Isadora Duncan sketch, there was no text with it but Rhythm magazine seems to have been quite involved with ballet culture so I suppose that explains it.

  7. the nudes show how close she was to some of her mentors (like JD Fergusson at the Atelier La Palette in Paris 1910/11/12).. the Izadora design is quite severe for this period...She didn't meet Lewis until about 1913? It is great to see her style develop.

  8. Here is something you may have missed;

  9. Really interesting! I am one of Jessica Dismorr's ancestors and am always interested to find new information about her. I have never seen these works of hers from Rhythm magazine - so thank you very much!

    Elizabeth Dismorr