Ugly Duckling Presse

The Blind Man
The Blind Man

Marcel Duchamp & Beatrice Wood & Henri-Pierre Roché

edited by Sophie Seita

Essay/Art
Fall 2017
Forthcoming
"The premonition of institutional critique it summons remains provocatively equivocal." — Sarah HaydenThe Blind Man (April-July 1917) was an important little magazine of the early twentieth century, part of a network of proto-Dada, modernist, and other avant-garde New York salons and publications that introduced audiences to Dada in the United States. Edited by Beatrice Wood, Marcel Duchamp, and Henri-Pierre Roché, its two issues published an array of New York luminaries, from Mina Loy, Walter Conrad Arensberg, Francis Picabia, Gabrielle Buffet, Allen Norton, Clara Tice, and Alfred Stieglitz, Charles Demuth, Charles Duncan, Erik Satie, Carl Van Vechten, to Louise Norton, among others. Short-lived like many little magazines, The Blind Man only ran for two issues, its end determined by a chess game between Roché and Francis Picabia, supposedly to avoid competition with Picabia’s 391—another output for New York Dada at the time. Picabia won and continued 391, while Duchamp, Roché, and Wood ended theirs. The moves of the match were printed in the single issue of Duchamp’s, Roché’s, and Wood’s follow-up magazine rongwrong.

While the magazine itself has only fairly recently garnered critical interest from artists and scholars, the second issue of The Blind Man featured what is perhaps one of the best known conceptual artworks of all time: Duchamp’s urinal "Fountain," photographed by Alfred Stieglitz. The issue’s cover featured—no less famous—Duchamp’s "Broyeuse De Chocolat (Chocolate Grinder)," often considered to have initiated Duchamp’s move towards an anti-art aesthetic. Putting the "Fountain" and "Chocolate Grinder" back into their original publication context, a print community in which editors and contributors defended the scandal caused by Duchamp’s public challenge to the accepted definition of art, will help contemporary readers appreciate the radicalism of Duchamp’s work inside a magazine and avant-garde community that was deeply engaged with the issues of its time. This facsimile reprint will be complemented by an extensive essay by Sophie Seita, contextualizing The Blindman/The Blind Man and rongwrong within the New York Dada and modernist magazine ecology. A letterpress broadside of The Ridgefield Gazook and an offset poster for The Blind Man's Ball, designed by Beatrice Wood, will also be included in the boxed set.

About the Author

Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French (later American) artist, writer, sculptor, best known for his works Nude Descending a Staircase, Fountain, The Large Glass, his contributions to Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism, and his influence on later artists and writers, associated with Conceptual Art, among others. He was also a passionate chess-player, and regarded chess a form of art. In addition to The Blind Man, he edited New York Dada with Man Ray in 1921, and in the 40s, co-edited the surrealist VVV, with David Hare, André Breton, and Max Ernst, and became involved with another surrealist magazine View. He sometimes appeared in drag under his pseudonym ‘Rrose Sélavy’. For a while he collaborated with Katherine Dreier, and Man Ray, on Société Anonyme, Inc., an experimental and pedagogical ‘museum of modern art.’ He has a cameo in René Clair’s short film Entr'acte (1924). In 1962, he joined Oulipo, as an American correspondent.
Beatrice Wood
Beatrice Wood was an American artist, writer, and ceramicist. Before editing The Blind Man, she studied painting, acting, and dance in France, where she met the likes of Sarah Bernhardt and Isadora Duncan. Back in New York, her work was exhibited in the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917. She eventually moved to Ojai, California, to live close to the philosopher J. Krishnamurthi, and taught ceramics at his Happy Valley School. She was often referred to as ‘Mama of Dada’, which is also the title of a film about her life. At age 90, she started writing, encouraged by her friend, the French writer Anais Nin. In her best-known work, her autobiography I Shock Myself, she recalls, among other things, her involvement with New York Dada and modernism; the memoir and Wood’s life also inspired the character ‘Rose’ in James Cameron’s film Titanic.

Henri-Pierre Roché
Henri-Pierre Roché was a French writer, journalist, art collector and dealer. He was the author of the novels Jules et Jim and Deux anglaises et le continent, later turned into films by François Truffaut. He corresponded or was acquainted with many avant-garde artists and writers of his time, such as Georges Braque, Blaise Cendrars, Jean Cocteau, Le Corbusier, Isadora Duncan, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Ezra Pound, Erik Satie, Gertrude Stein, and John Quinn.

About the Editor

Sophie Seita
Sophie Seita is the author of Meat (Little Red Leaves), Fantasias in Counting (BlazeVOX Books), 12 Steps (Wide Range), and the translator of i mean i dislike that fate that i was made to where (Wonder) and Subsisters: Selected Poems (Belladonna*, 2017), both by Uljana Wolf. Her academic and creative work has been supported by awards and fellowships from PEN America, Princeton, Yale, Buffalo, Columbia, Queen Mary University of London, Cambridge, DAAD, and Studienstiftung, among others. She is a Junior Research Fellow in English at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge.

Advance Praise

The Blind Man was as slippery as anything generated by the tricksiest Dada mo/ve/ment of all. Its first number commemorated the 1917 Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists as the signal that the American art world would no longer genuflect before the history of European painting. Presenting itself as ‘the link between the pictures and the public—and even between the painters themselves’, that issue posed as publication qua pedagogue: a magazine that would ‘give to those who want to understand the explanations of those who think they understand’.
Its second number was still richer and stranger. With an extended roster of agitants contributing a riot of genres, it protested the Indeps’ exclusion of Duchamp’s ‘Buddha of the Bathroom’ as a betrayal of modern art. Almost, even, of modernity itself. The premonition of institutional critique it summons remains provocatively equivocal. Seita’s knowledge of these magazines, and their imbrication in the ecologies of New York’s cultures of the new, is compendious. Her writing is sharp and sets these artefacts vibrating. This box is to be a very exciting thing.
—Dr. Sarah Hayden