Dada

Le Petit Journal des Refusees

Le Petit Journal des Refusées only published one issue in 1896. Published in an age of anxiety and discontent, Le Petit Journal presents a prototype of the modernist visual and literary art of the World War I era, which would start less than twenty years after the magazine's publicaton. The description of Le Petit Journal in the Modernist Journals archive describes the magazine as giving "hints of Dada and Surrealism before these modes of modernism actually developed" -- a similar sentiment ties Le Petit Journal and post-WWI movements, such as Dadaism, together. The publication, it seems, would appeal to a very niche group - as evidenced by the fact the magazine never published more than one issue.

Page sixteen of Le Petit Journal des Refusées displays an advertisement advertising the engraving services of Union Photo Eng. Co. in San Francisco. It is on a leftside page, across from The Ghost of A Flea. This doesn't seem to hold any significance in and of itself, however these are the last two pages of this particular copy of the magazine. Nowhere else in the magazine is there an advertisement, and the address of the company advertised is the same as the publication's. While this is clearly a modern publication, the existence and placement of this advertisement displays an obvious self-awareness which matches up with a post-modern ethos. The entire magazine seems to be self-aware, and clearly pokes at contemporary publications by including the name of the magazine by which each piece was refused. The ad, in that case, seems to poke fun at advertisements of the time.

Framing of Artwork within Dada No. 2

In going through Dada No. 2, I focused on the overall layout of the magazine and the way in which text and art shared the space.  What I found was that text and art, for almost the entire length of the magazine, excluding the notes in the back, alternate pages.  In this way, the art is allowed its own standalone expression, which contrasts other modernist magazines we've looked, which often treated drawings, illustrations, and paintings as supplements to poems.  Additionally, I found that the centering and of each piece of artwork featured in the magazine gave the impression of the painting or drawing hanging on the wall of a gallery, allowing the viewer of the magazine to consider each work individually without having to view the image in person (considering, of course, that such a copy cannot properly compare to the viewing of the original).  The uniformed, rectangular representations of roughly the same size on the alternating pages create a sense of equality and organization that allows the art to exist in its own space.

For instance, the depiction of Giorgio De Chirico's "Le mauvais genie d'un roi" in the magazine allows the painting to be viewed by readers of the magazine who might not have access to it otherwise.  In researching the painting, I found the original to be in vivid color which, given the technological advantages of our age, I was able access with ease.  And although this is still not the same as seeing the actual painting in person, it arguably comes closer to the original, and allowed me to consider the purpose of art magazines and reproducing artwork through the ephemeral medium.  This, I believe, is a crucial difference between textual and visual art in magazines.

Art in the Magazines

I looked at Dada No. 3 from 1918.  I immediately noticed the artwork that was featured throughout the magazine, and that much of it was very abstract.  I can see that it's purpose may have been to be up for interpretation by readers.  A lot of it I could not figure out quite what it was supposed to be, but used my imagaination.  It also didn't help that the titles and captions are in French because that may have provided more of a clue as it what it was.  There are not only full page pieces of art in this issue, but also smaller ones along the edges of pages.  

One of the pieces I looked at was on page 10.  At first glance it just looks like 3 ink blots that progressively get bigger as it goes down the page.  I tired to make out what was in each of the ink blots, and in the second one there appears to be what looks like a woman's face.  It looks like the image gets added on to until the last one, but it is very hard to tell what it is supposed to depict.  It might be a scene from nature because of all the different angles of it.  I also didn't know if the reader was supposed to look at the white or the black to see an image.  This proves how much the audience can attempt to interpret the artowrk in the magazine.

Ink Blot Artwork

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Dada: Verbal Support for Anti-Art

     As Scholes and Wulfman suggest in Chapter 4 of Modernism in the Magazines, “little magazines” like J.M. Murry’s Rhythm and The New Age headed by A.R. Orage were influenced by their French predecessor La Revue Blanche. These publications gave much needed verbal support to the visual arts that broke from prevailing artistic standards, whose “newness” was viewed as a rejection of a long-established tradition. The initial reaction to the Impressionists in France, the Pre-Raphaelites in England, and also Turner and Whistler (revered and degraded by academic art critic John Ruskin, respectively) demonstrated the need for verbal support “and that support would often take the form of periodical publications in which images were accompanied by words of explanation and justification” (SW 78).  

      The ability publish manifestos for the countless abstract -isms allowed both criticism on old modes of expression and rival theoretical artistic “revolutions. Rather than make a manifesto of his own Marius de Zayas both parodies and propounds the invention of these –isms in the first page of his 1915 publication 291. A cubist sketch by Picasso entitled “Oil and Vinegar Castor” occupies the top half of this page, while below is a discussion of “simultanism” as a literary application of cubist principles. The nonsense of the polyphony given as an example reads more of a cacophony, making what is presented as a serious discussion seem tongue-in-cheek. Similarly, the discussion of “sincerism” (composer Albert Savinio admitting his music is actually just inspired by other music) and “idiotism” (“just ordinary new art”) call into question the very nature of artistic justification. This Dada publication then, makes its manifesto for “anti-art” by making fun of contemporary movements, while somewhat seriously asserting its own place in the art world, by referencing what the 291 is not. 

Intersections of Language and Visual Art in Dada Magazines

One artistic technique apparently unique to the avant-garde magazines of the 1910s and ‘20s is a complete incorporation of text into image so that the two traditionally discrete forms work together to produce a coherent unit. Dada magazines in particular, like 291 and Dada, blend language and image, reinscribing linguistic symbols within a new context which can either echo or abandon their meaning as linguistic signs.

“Le Coq Gaulois,” (or “Gallic Rooster,” a symbol of France), is one example from the back cover of 291 Issue 3: the image depicts a rooster whose eye, beak, and gizzard are formed from the digits “75.” The rooster stands against a large ‘j,’ which in itself does not carry meaning. The ‘j’ behind the rooster may or may not be intended to evoke something linguistic, beyond the arbitrariness of its visual presence.

On the same page is a concrete poem by J.B. Kerfoot called “A Bunch of Keys,” in which the words of the poem are printed in the shape of a ring of keys. Thus, the work operates simultaneously as an image and a literary piece. Another concrete poem in the May 15, 1919 issue of Dada is both about a “triangle noir” (“black triangle”) and written in black ink in the shape of a triangle. Here again, linguistic meaning is literalized in its dual function as visual image.

Language is also an important component of Dada mechanical diagrams, which redefine industrial movement in a cultural context. Two examples of this hybridity in Dada diagrams are "Mental Reactions," which constructs a narrative of romantic anxiety, and Francis Picabia's Dada Movement (suggesting both the artistic trend and the literal representation of mechanical movement) pulley drawing, featuring the names of contemporary avant-garde artists.

Art? The Blind Man and New York Dada

 

Art isn’t simply a topic for discussion in the short-lived The Blind Man. Art is a question, the question. Like the earlier 291, The Blind Man served as a mouthpiece for the New York Dada scene. It is essentially a manifesto (especially the last issue) and a promotional tool. In this second  (last) issue the editorials and poems are pointedly interrogating contemporary art world by vigorously supporting the controversial  “Fountain” sculpture by Marcel Duchamp.                                                                                                                                                                 
 Perhaps, the most interesting piece in the issue is the penultimate: a frenetic piece by Mina Loy. Loy’s poem, “O Marcel…Otherwise I Also Have Been to Louise’s” is a particularly interesting inclusion merely for the nature of the work. Simply put, this is an indeterminate piece; it’s a decidedly ugly and unrelated assemblage of conversations. The puzzling “compiled by Mina Loy” at the end of the piece suggests that this poem, like Duchamp’s “Fountain,” is art  “chosen” from the humdrum and then reimagined. So, is it a poem? Is it art? Can art be found? These are the questions implicit in Loy’s poetic homage to Duchamp. 

 

Note: The first issue of The Blind Man is available here.

Dynamic Status of Art in Dada

The use of art in Dada undergoes an interesting shift during the run of the magazine. In the first few issues, each of the pieces is given its own page, setting it apart from the text as its own entity. In the first issue there is a variety of different kinds of art, with varying textures, styles, and mediums. There are two separate instances of a work that looks like a cut out of wood or a simulated picture of a wood carving. They provide their own specific, unique texture among the works in the magazine. The works, both by Hans Arp, are titled “Wood”, illuminating nothing about the actual materials of the piece. By placing them in separate places in the magazine, they seem to form bookends for the magazine. They are not at the beginning and end, however, demonstrating the falseness of this role. By the second issue the artwork has been somewhat streamlined, creating a more unified type of work presented.
    

Then the third and fourth/fifth issue change the way in which the art is presented. Now they are not on a separate page but integrated into the text. In some cases the text is arranged in such a way that it is more difficult to read but establishes the art as the true focal point of the page. The attitude towards art here, then, is a dynamic one. The magazine was willing to fundamentally change the structure of the magazine in a way that appears designed to more fully integrate art into the body of the work.
 

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"For Valor:" Advertising in America, England, and France in WWI

By Samantha Friend, Ellen Guirl, and Michelle Parker

The early 1900s were a period of great cultural turmoil: between the variety of artistic, poetic, and literary movements, let alone the presence of WWI, the time between the turn of the century and the end of the war mark an era of rapid change. There is no better place to study these movements than through the literary magazines, especially the “little magazines” that became immensely popular at the time. One of the best ways to understand how these magazines related to the world surrounding them is through their advertisements – what better way to understand a culture than by analyzing its goods and services? In looking at those in modernist publication from America, England, and France, we came away with a wide range of results regarding how each country treated the war, a distinct turning point in European and history, in their advertisements. Essentially, by looking at different countries' approaches to advertising during wartime, we can gain a better understanding of how each country coped with The Great War, and on a deeper level, how it affected the national psyche as a whole.

AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS
Looking at Scribner’s Magazine between 1914 and 1916, it comes off that America really did not care that there was a war going on in Europe. The advertisement content that does mention the war seems to be just various book ads.  Then after a few travel ads stating that Hungary was a great place to visit and a trip to Munich was just what the doctor ordered for 1914, there came three advertisements that blatantly used war language and imagery.  Yet these advertisements were not your usual war bond ads, but three cereal ads.    

The first of these was for Shredded Wheat (Vol. 56, No. 5 1914).  This advertisement, instead of blatantly supporting the war, commented on food shortages and the rising price of certain food items.  The advertisement begins with in large bolded font the title “In Peace and in War” and then goes on to state:

-in Sickness and in Health- in Good Times and Bad Times- in all climes and in all seasons – for children and grown-ups -  the food that builds strong and sturdy bodies, fit for the day’s work or the day’s play, is…

This seems to be a play on the average marriage vows, yet considering that certain words are capitalized and others are left lower case it becomes obvious that there is a meaning to be taken from the ad itself.  After the exclamation above, the ad goes back to the title stating:

The one staple, universal breakfast cereal that sells at the same price throughout the civilized world.  War always furnishes an excuse for increasing the cost of living, but no dealer can raise the price of Shredded Wheat.  It is always the same in price and quality – contains more real nutriment, pound for pound, than meat or eggs and costs much less – is ready-cooked and ready-to-serve.

The advertisement itself instead of commenting on the war effort just comments on the food shortage, showing that, as stated above, America really did not feel the need to raise awareness in their advertisements but instead felt the need to almost complain about the food shortage, but at the same time use it to their advantage. 


This was not the only advertisement from Shredded Wheat that had a war tone to it.  Another advertisement found in Scribner’s Magazine (Vol. 57, No. 1 1915) a year later has as a title “On the Firing Line” which seems to parallel both a “front line” imagry and then also a firing squad.  The advertisement itself just depicts a group of people working and states:

The man or woman who accomplishes anything in business or in the home must be on the firing line.  Keeping at the front in any department of human activity calls for a good brain and muscular energy, and these must come from the foods you eat.

The only thing that seems out of the ordinary are the uses of “firing line” and “front” in this description.  The rest of the advertisement just focuses on the ability of Shredded Wheat to help build strong bodies, which could be used as a method of creating soldiers, but more explains just health advantages.  The rest of the advertisement also just explains what Shredded Wheat is:

Contains all the body-building material in the whole wheat grain prepared in a digestible form – a natural, elemental food that builds healthy tissue, sound bone and good brain.

Neither of these advertisements come close to the Grape Nuts ad found in Scribner’s Magazine (Vol. 57, No. 4 1915).  The title of this advertisement states “For Valor” and then straight underneath sits three war badges.  The first is titled the “Victoria Cross of England,” the next is the “Legion of Honor of France” and the third is the “Iron Cross of Germany”.  This imagery comes across as a bit extreme, considering Grape Nuts is a cereal and not some form of ammunition or medical supply or vehicle.  The text underneath the various badges then goes back to the title idea and states:

Deeds of Valor come from men of sturdy strength and active brain… builds stout bodies and keen minds…. “There’s a Reason”

This advertisement seems a bit different than most due to the fact that instead of paragraphs of text, there is just this one, simple, straight to the point sentence that seems to invoke a sense of strength yet false honor.  Considering the United States had still not joined the war, this advertisement seems to think that they would care about the “valor” of the countries involved.  But, the addition of “There’s a Reason” and then the small “Made in the U.S.A” seems to contrast or make the above medals seem not as important.  It could be said that this advertisement instead of embracing the war effort is actually making fun of it.  But that also seems to be just a waste of advertisement space for something that was changing Europe forever.   It’s not possible today to go back and find out why Grape Nuts decided to run this advertisement, at the time they could have truly thought that this was the best possible way of embracing the war, or showing that the war was as meaningless as cereal itself.  

All three of these advertisements seem to be a bit extreme, but that must be since today it would be impossible to really find this obvious of war references.  Just think of grabbing a box of Lucky Charms and on the front Lucky is dressed in the uniform of a soldier stating “There’s a reason you can never catch me lucky charms.”  Scribner’s Magazine is a magazine that was published and printed for the masses.  It is filled with advertisements of varying degree.  Many are for books, some are for schools or cars, but out of all of them it is the breakfast cereal advertisements that try to make a comment on the war.  

Its not surprising that the attitude towards war on display in the American magazines is very different from that of their European counterparts. Even the little magazines, known for expressing views outside the mainstream, displayed the American attitude of isolationism. In the May 1917 issue of The Crisis there is an ad on the first page of  the magazine advertising for memberships in the NAACP and subscriptions to The Crisis.  While this ad is a consistent presence in the magazine, this ad has a noticeable new element to it. In a large, mostly empty space in the center of the ad, it says “The fight for 1917 is to be against DISFRANCHISEMENT and JIM CROW CARS. If this is your fight, join and support us.”

Its clear that the war has finally become a concern for everyday Americans. Instead of embracing and encouraging this attitude, this ad attempts to quell it so that the readership can focus on issues that the magazine believes to be more relevant to their lives. This attitude is one that stays consistent in the magazine. The same ad is presented in the next issue, with the central text changed to say, “A time of National Crisis must be a time of redoubled effort and vigilance if the Negro is to advance his status during the war as the women of England and the oppressed masses of Russia have advanced theirs. The N.A.A.C.P. never needed your support more than now.” Here the war is more directly addressed than in the previous issue, demonstrating again that entering the war has become more of a concern for Americans than it was when the war first started. This represents an interesting twist on the isolationist theme. It draws on an implied knowledge of international political movements in order to reemphasize the importance of a local focus. In terms of the isolationist policy, The Crisis is fairly typical. By this time, however, the mass market magazines have largely embraced the war as a marketing concept. The Crisis, being specifically dedicated to an ideal, only invokes war imagery when it becomes inescapable.

BRITISH PUBLICATIONS
For obvious reasons, the British magazines were much more involved with the war during this period. The New Age has no advertising, war related or not. It seems unlikely that a magazine with such incendiary rhetoric would be able to attract the kind of advertising seen in Scribner’s, even if they wanted to. In the April 6th, 1916 issue the Notes of the Week column on the first page demonstrates this attitude.

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“Things are as they are, and no mere opinion about them alters them one way or the other. That we were persuaded at the outset of the war that the Germans would not or could not fight may be recalled by a glance at the Press of those days; but our then pessimism has had no effect upon the facts themselves; for here we are, after eighteen months of war, still engaged in the struggle which everybody thought would long ago have been over.” This is the antithesis of mass marketing, encouraging critical analysis of the war instead of blind patriotism. The fact that it is coming from those who are closely connected with the effects of the war serves to further highlight the ludicrous nature of the American advertising technique of glorifying the war in order to sell breakfast cereal.

FRENCH PUBLICATIONS
France's modernist movement, as we have seen, has a different approach to its subject matter in text, a difference which carries over into magazines' structures as well. Two of the most prominent (or more specifically, two of the only) French Dada magazines still publishing during WWI were L'Élan and Dada. The International Dada Archive has 10 editions of L'Élan between April 1915 and December 1916/January 1917, and three of Dada between July 1915 and December 1918. In perusing them, I came to a number of interesting conclusions regarding advertisement in French wartime magazines. Firstly, I noticed a distinct lack of traditional advertisement, such as products, books, and the like that appeared in their English counterparts. Secondly, the type of advertisement that was there was either to promote the magazine itself or its direct associates, or was more closely associated with general cultural manifestos, especially those involving anti-German sentiment.

What I noticed immediately is that L'Élan is very much void of advertisements such as those of Scribner's. Instead of full pages displaying specific products or services, L'Élan concerns itself with much larger cultural issues. For example, in No. 2 (1 May 1915) there is a plea made to Camille Saint-Saëns, a beloved contemporary composer, regarding the music performed at his Sunday concerts. Titled “Le Cornet à Bouquin,” or “The Cornetto,” (though this could be interpreted in a number of different ways), this 2-paragraph, full-page article translates to:

It is announced to us that Mr. Saint-Saëns has just discovered an American Beethoven and that the Sunday concerts would be devoted mainly to him from now on, which would have the double and priceless advantage to attract the sympathies of a neutral nation and to replace the old Beethoven, with deplorable ancestry.

We dare however to acknowledge our fear that this new passion (or infatuation, depending on how you read it) does not leave sufficient place in the programs for the music of our venerated master Saint-Saëns. We could not in any case rent (or praise?) too much patriotic disinterest of this one that would be however indicated to keep the first place in these sorrowful moments.

Again, this is not exactly an advertisement. However, by comparing it with, for example, The Little Review's advertisement for a violin recital by David Hochstein from the November 1915 publication of The Little Review (http://dl.lib.brown.edu/jpegs/1289229449963407.jpg), one can definitely see the “little magazines'” interest and investment in the arts outside of literature, poetry, and art. This is important to note, as national identity here is closely tied in with the arts, hence the importance of replacing a German composer. What these varied interests showcase is the magazine's relationship to the war raging around it by displaying the same patriotic attitude which exists inside the public, as well as artistic, communities; the editors of L'Élan obviously felt the need to remind both France and Saint-Saëns himself that the music that should be most heard by the French should itself be French. The author does add, however, that currying the political favor of a then-potential ally in the United States by playing an American's music is indeed in France's best interest, even in an alliance beginning with musical tutelage. This reinforces the message that Wyndham Lewis was attempting to convey in his “Editorial” from BLAST's “War Number”: that the arts play a significant role in national dialogue during wartime. L'Élan No. 3 (15 May 1915), like No. 2, is almost entirely lacking in ads as well. One of the only actual advertisements made in this release is for the magazine itself, but unlike its cohorts, it is not for a yearly subscription to give as a gift. Instead, it is an advertisement for a special edition of the magazine printed on Japanese paper – it is more of a collector's item than anything else.

Dada unfortunately has a significantly smaller catalog to work from in the IDA, but what it lacks in number it makes up in substance. Actually, it is also almost entirely void of traditional advertisements, so perhaps it is what the magazine does not say that is of interest. The way Dada chose to place its advertisements is true to the absurd and random nature of the movement itself. The advertisements themselves are very subtle; the first actual example I came across was on page 4:

On the page containing Pierre Reverdy's poetry, there is a small, diagonal section in the blank space that states the names of some of his poetry collections and their prices; the text running down the right side gives another poem and its price as well. A number of the other pages featuring different poets follow the same formula, though in a number of typographical variations. Instead of featuring these ads in large text and with images, they are tucked away in small text, going in different directions from the text itself. I had to hunt through the pages to find these ads, and it is interesting to see the difference in how prevalent ads are in French magazines, as opposed to its British and American counterparts.

However, what I found most interesting about Dada is that certain numbers, such as No. 3 (December 1918), have dual publications; one contains submissions from German authors, whereas the other replaces these submissions with those of French authors. The reasoning behind this was so that the magazine was able to pass through French censors, and so the separate edition become known as the “International Edition.” This title is particularly notable, as it implies a certain unity of nations under the banner of the Dada movement, including Germany. Though this publication originates from Zurich, Switzerland and is entirely in French, it also gives France the appearance of a certain inward-looking perspective, given their (understandable) complete rejection of all things German. The edition on the IDA is entirely in French, and I was unfortunately unable to find any with the German content to make a comparison. However, that Dada was able to transcend the hatred of the war in propagating a literary movement involving a coalition of different countries, let alone their success in doing so, is truly impressive.

Maybe it was due to the trenches marring the French landscape, and war invading every day of the French conscience, that they distanced themselves from references to this reality in their advertisements. Since it was part of the fabric of every day life, it seems as if the French did not feel the need to call further attention to its existence. The U.S., on the other hand, did not engage in this conflict until 1917 and did not have three years of death preceding. This may lend to the more casual use of war imagery, such as the strangely close association in Scribner's of war imagery and cereal advertisements. Ultimately, what we came away with after this endeavor was a sense of the immense impact WWI had on every facet of life. Its effects are innumerable, but for the purposes of this class, these all seem to relate to the obscure and often inconsistent use of advertisements within the early 1900s.

Art and the War: Theories of the Aesthetic in Blast and The Blind Man

In both the July 1915 “War Number” of Blast and the May 1917 issue of The Blind Man, a New York Dada publication, editorial essays address the effect of the war on art in Europe and America. A letter to the magazine titled “From a Friend,” written by American journalist and art critic Frank Crowninshield, addresses the significance of the war in the future creation of “a truly native art” for America. Throughout Blast, Lewis is similarly preoccupied with aesthetic theory in relation to modernity. Thus, texts in both magazines argue that art should necessarily "very closely embody the spirit of our time, however morbid, however hurried, however disorganized, however nerve-racking that time may be" (The Blind Man 10).  According to Crowninshield in The Blind Man, "No art can live that is not an integral part of its time" (10). The work of traditional artists--like Botticelli, Corot, Fragonard--is devoid of significance, for Crowninshield, because of its absolute rupture with contemporary life.

 In Blast, Lewis also advocates for modern art's break with the traditional and Romantic. Lewis' project in Blast, he states in his opening Editorial, is "to stand rigidly opposed, from start to finish, to every form that the Poetry of a former condition of life, no longer existing, has foisted upon us" (5). In "The Exploitation of Blood," Lewis also argues that Art will not move in the direction of the sentimental or weak in its reflection of the war, but rather that “The art of to-day is a result of the life of to-day, of the appearance and vivacity of that life" (24).

 As is common in Blast and in Lewis' writing more broadly, his arguments periodically appear self-contradictory. Though he predicts that Art during and after the war will echo a consistent degree of vitality, Lewis also asserts at one point in "A Super Krupp--Or War's End" that “All art that matters is already so far ahead that it is beyond the sphere of these disturbances” (13). Despite this determination to exist beyond the influence of the war, the delay in Blast's publication, the more subdued tone of the War Number, and the obvious centrality of the war in the issue's content all evidence the significance the war has already had on Lewis' own art. In the piece “Marinetti’s Occupation,” Lewis suggests that the war will end in time, and Art will have to exist beyond it (26). Thus, an art like Marinetti’s Futurism is unsustainable in a climate beyond the war. Lewis' claim that "Life after the War will be the same brilliant life as it was before the War--it’s appearance certainly not modified backwards” may have some truth, but the fracturing of subjectivity (seen in Eliot's poetry and field-of-consciousness narration) and Dada's aesthetic of degeneration suggest palpable and immediate consequences of the war on contemporary Art.