BLAST

Illustration of BLAST

BLAST 1 from June 1914 (Copyright, Author’s collection)

BLAST was the Vorticists’ own periodical and manifesto. It was first published in June 1914.

The journal’s editor was Wyndham Lewis, the de facto leader of the Vorticists. Subtitled a ‘Review of the Great English Vortex’, it literally reviewed the state of art at this moment in Great Britain, and what was required to reinvigorate it after the years of Victorian neglect.

Its physical appearance was startling. It was a magazine, but unlike any other magazine printed before. The format was a softback of a monstrous size – 12 by 9.5 inches (30.5 by 24cm). The cover was thick puce card, and there was just one word printed diagonally front and back: BLAST.

The name of the publication, ‘BLAST’ is a derogatory exclamation, and is used repeatedly in the first and most important section of the publication, Manifesto I. CRW Nevinson, an artist friend of Lewis, had thought up the title late in 1913, a time which predates the term Vorticism. Nevinson was to abandon the Lewis clique in favour of the Futurists just before the publication of BLAST and the announcement of the group.

CONTENTS of BLAST 1:

  • Manifesto I.
  • Manifesto II.
  • Poems, by Ezra Pound.
  • Enemy of the Stars, by Wyndham Lewis.
  • The Saddest Story, by Ford Maddox Hueffer.
  • Indissoluble Matrimony, by Rebecca West.
  • “Inner Necessity”: Review of Kandinsky’s book, by Edward Wadsworth.
  • Vortices and Notes, by Wyndham Lewis –
    1. “Life is the Important Thing”.
    2. Futurism, Magic and Life.
    3. Notes on some German Woodcuts.
    4. Policeman and Artist.
    5. Feng Shui and Contemporary Form.
    6. Relativism and Picasso’s Latest Work.
    7. The New egos.
    8. Orchestra of Media.
    9. The Melodrama of Modernity.
    10. Exploitation of Vulgarity.
    11. The Improvement of Life.
    12. Our Vortex.
  • Frederick Spenser Gore, by Wyndham Lewis.
  • To Suffragettes.
  • Vortex, Pound.
  • Vortex, Gaudier Brzeska.


2 Responses to BLAST

  1. Eric says:

    I like the graphics of Blast. Could they be given credit for fashioning the sparse uncluttered look of modern 20th century graphics? I certainly think so!

    • admin says:

      Hi Eric,
      I certainly agree – BLAST was revolutionary, and set the bar from that moment when it came to a new ‘modern’ look and feel in graphics and typography. It was surely the first time a manifesto had been given so much prominence in a periodical. It was the first time an ‘arts’ magazine utilized a sans serif typeface so heavily (Grotesque No 9) and it was surely the first time that text had been laid out in an English language publication. Many artists read it (for example Bowie and Henry Moore) who then went on to greatness, and never forgot BLAST. A tome of magnificence.

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