Lewis, Wyndham ~ BLAST: Review of the Great English Vortex. Issues 1 & 2
John Lane, The Bodley Head, London : 1914-1915
Large 4to., original printed wraps; Vol I printed in black on pink card, with 22 black-and-white photographic plates, pp. 160, [iv, ads.]; Vol II with cover design by Lewis in black over white card; pp. 102, [vi, ads.] with 20 full-page, inter-text and tailpiece illustrations by Lewis, Edward Wadsworth, Jacob Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Christopher Nevinson, William Roberts and many others, and 1 photograph. Both volumes aged toned with age related markings. VOLUME 1 : Some loss to the spine ends and cover edges. Both the front and back covers of this volume are detached but come together and present well in the removable Mylar archival cover. The covers are spotted along the outer edge. Internally complete with the usually encountered spotting throughout which is heavier in places. VOLUME 2 : A small area of loss to the lower spine otherwise the spine is remarkably intact. A tiny chip to the rear lower cover otherwise the covers have only very light age related markings. The covers are protected in a removable Mylar archival cover. Internally, the usual encountered light spotting throughout which is a little heavier to the prelims. Despite their issues, these two examples remain remarkable survivors of a scarce publication in which it is rare to find the covers present in any condition. First editions of the only two publications of this famous journal. The first, featuring the bright pink cover referred to by Ezra Pound as the 'great MAGENTA cover'd opusculus' was on the 2nd July 1914, but features a date of the 20th June, as publication was delayed. The second appeared a year later, on 15th July 1915. Lewis had intended BLAST to be the official journal of English Vorticists, a modernist movement in art and poetry founded by him the same year. Inspired by a combination of Cubism, Futurism and Dynamism, Vorticism was promoted with the aim of creating art that expressed the dynamism of the modern world, with its founder ' ‘blasting’ what he considered to be the effeteness of British art and culture and proclaiming the vorticist aesthetic'. 'The New Vortex plunges to the heart of the Present – we produce a New Living Abstraction'. Lewis acted as the editor and main contributor of the magazine, and he also designed the bold, and liberally spaced typography which dominates both editions but is more prominent in Volume 1. It was, however, his friend and fellow artist Ezra Pound who coined the term 'Vorticism', who painted in a similar style. The manifesto can be found on p. 10-44, of whom the eleven signatories are Richard Aldington, Malcolm Arbuthnot, Lawrence Atkinson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jessica Dismorr, Cuthbert Hamilton, Ezra Pound, W. Roberts, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth and Wyndham Lewis. This is followed by a series of poems, (censor's inked strike-throughs to lines of Ezra Pound's contribution 'Fratres Minores'), Lewis' play 'Enemy of the Stars', and a short story by Rebecca West. Wyndham also addresses the Suffragettes, praising their work but pleading 'If you destroy a great work of art you are destroying a greater soul than if you annihilated a whole district of London. LEAVE ART ALONE, BRAVE COMRADES!'. In the second volume Lewis begins by discussing the state of society and Europe since the commencement of the First World War. T. S. Eliot contributes two poems, 'Preludes' and 'Rhapsody of a Windy Night', and Gaudier-Brzeska pens an article entitled 'Vortex' (Written from the Trenches) 'having been in the firing line since early in the war'. The first issue was released thirty-three days before the outbreak of World War One, but, as disaster unfolded, the contributors began to lose faith in their artistic beliefs. The publication became extremely short-lived, ending shortly after the second journal was issued in 1915. An extremely rare opportunity to own a pinnacle work of the Vorticism movement.
CONDITION: Very Good