05 April – 20 Sept 2009
“The Whitechapel Boys, a delightful display of the Jewish artists who grew up with the museum.”
-Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times, 4 April 2009
The East End has long been a hub of changing immigrant communities. Towards the beginning of the last century a quarter of its population was Jewish, hailing from central and eastern Europe. From this diaspora emerged a remarkable group of artists and writers who came to be known as the Whitechapel Boys.
Using the Whitechapel Library as a meeting place, their discussions contributed to the founding of British Modernism. Strongly iconoclastic, the painters and sculptors in the group began to experiment with dynamic form and abstraction while the writers and poets searched for innovative prose to express their philosophical and political views. Highlights of this exhibition include Jacob Epstein’s Study for Rock Drill and Jacob Kramer’s The Day of Atonement, the first edition of Isaac Rosenberg’s Youth, John Rodker’s Collected Poems from 1912-1925, and items from their personal collections including the manuscript of Clare Winsten’s autobiography and Alfred Wolmark’s early sketch books.
Presented alongside are catalogues, correspondence and press cuttings relating to their work and milieu showing how a company of radical thinkers overcame the constraints of living in the impoverished East End to become a vibrant avant garde.