Dada's Dues

Hannah Hege's "The Magazine as Strategy: Tristan Tzara's Dada and the Seminole Role of Dada Art Journals in the Dada Movement" tracks the way Dada art defines itself in early twentieth century magazines. However, the essay stops short of indicating any sort of relation between the Dadaists and the Vorticists. Perhaps this relationship is missing or, at the very least, untraceable. Yet in Hege's descriptions of Dada, I found myself thinking of Blast, which had been printed in 1917--three years after the first issue of Blast was published. Hege writes, "Tzara adopted the magazine as a strategy for launching the Dada movement. Particularly in these early years, Dada defined and essentially constituted Dada for readers, and in fact it was in coming up with a name for this journal that the Zurich artists christened their movement" (36). Tzara's intention with Dada sounds similar to Wyndham Lewis' own plans for Blast--also launched to clarify and define the Vorticism movement. While the name of Blast is not the name of the movement, even the intention behind the name defines how Vorticism blasts out pre-conceived notions of how art and literature should operate. In addition, Hege also adds, "Assuming an appellation with no preordained meaning, the Dadaists also refused to define their aims clearly through a manifesto or mission statement" (36). While Blast certainly has a manifesto, Blast's manifesto is often ignored by its own artists--if not contradictory within its "definition" of what should be and should not be blasted. Blast equally refuses to be penned into a strict guideline of what Vorticism is and isn't. 

Alongside this similar intention behind the two magazines, the similarity in contributions also interests me. Hoge's essay includes art that was in an issue of Dada, and the art itself not only contributes to how the movement was inspired by other modernist movements, but how it shapes the Dada movement as well. Blast included art to a similar degree--though of course, Blast seemed less eager to look at the movements that had come before it. In this minor way, the magazines differ; and yet, this difference seems less interesting to me than intention. Discounting the way Dada does not mind looking back at other traditions, both magazines are using art that is not only strange and new, but also contributes to a new movement itself. 

My question, then, is just how closely these two magazines are intertwined? This would require further research (more, at least, than my quick Google searches can locate). However, I do not think it is a stretch to conjecture that Blast, a magazine that made ripples in the literary and art circles, was a defining influence on how Tzara designed Dada as a magazine.


A point of clarification on my text: I meant that Dada had been published in 1917, and Blast had come before (1914).