Vorticist Manifesto

The first section of BLAST is Manifesto I. Within this section, the Vorticists ‘blast’ many institutions, objects and people who need to be overcome before their vision of a new Vorticist Britain can come about. There is a (smaller) ‘Bless’ section which is a list the positive forces that favour their programme. What is unusual and completely unprecedented (at least in the English language) is the typographical layout of the pages. The words are sized in a selection of point sizes depending on the force of the rhetoric. Point sizes vary from 36pt (1/2 inch, 13mm) to lesser sizes of 24pt and 18pt, and these size changes can occur several times in one line of text. This kind of typographical formating had only been used in advertising before this time, and never in the confines of an art periodical. It was in this sense a revolutionary moment.

The internal pages of BLAST - Manifesto 1

Two pages from the Manifesto I of BLAST, showing geometric layout of words and paragraphs. (Copyright, author’s collection).

Apart from advertising, there had been similar typographical experiments by the Futurists, for example in Marinetti’s Italian printing of his poem, ‘Zang Tumb Tumb’ from 1912. This utilised the concept of ‘Parole in Liberta’ or ‘words in liberty’. This allowed words to float across the page in freedom from the conventional rows of printed matter.

The Manifesto was signed by Aldington, Arbuthnot, Atkinson, Gaudier Brzeska, Dismorr, Hamilton, Pound, Roberts, Sanders, Wadsworth and Lewis.

There is no doubt that Blast in general, and Manifesto I in particular owed some of its style and content to the Futurists. The important point is that Lewis was able to organise its wording, finance its printing, and secure its sponsorship by some of the most important avant garde artists of the day.

A very accurate facsimile version of BLAST is available at http://www.Amazon.co.uk. It gives the reader a very good impression of what the original product was like to handle. This edition is an extremely competitively priced. Recommended!

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