LEWIS, Wyndham. BLAST: Review of the Great English Vortex. Issues 1 & 2. London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 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 and heavily worn along the spine; volume 1 with some loss to head and foot, small pen marks to covers and spotted along the outer edge; volume 2 with a small portion of loss to lower RH corner of upper cover and spotted to edges and prelims; these two examples remain remarkable survivals of a scarce publication in which it is rare to find the covers intact.
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 after the second journal in 1915.
A genuinely rare opportunity to own a pinnacle work of the Vorticism movement.