The Blindman (April 1917)
The Blind Man (May 1917)
Date of Publication:
April 1917 (1.1); May 1917 (1.2)
Place(s) of Publication:
New York, NY
Frequency of Publication:
Henri Pierre Roché, 33 West 67th Street, New York
Issue 1: 8 pages
Issue 2: 16 pages
Deluxe Version : 19.5″ x 12″ printed on fine Japanese Vellum paper
Standard Version : 19.5″ x 12″ printed on standard non glossy paper
Henri Pierre Roché
Libraries with Complete Original Issues:
The Whitney Museum of American Art Library; University College of London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Thomas J. Watson Library (1:2); University of Iowa (1:2)
PDF of second issue available online at the University of Iowa’s International Dada Archive
Marcel Duchamp, Beatrice Wood, and Henri Pierre Roché collaborated on The Blindman in an effort to provide a forum for new artists, poets, and writers to display their experimental work. In the first of only two issue of the magazine, the editors wrote that “New York, so far ahead of its time in so many ways, yet indifferent to art in the making, is going to learn to think for itself, and no longer accept, mechanically, the art reputations made abroad” (2). Although none of the editors ever labeled the magazine an explicitly Dadaist publication, The Blindman is considered to be one of the first publications of the New York Dada movement.
The first issue was dedicated to the opening of the Independent Exhibition, an exhibit crafted by Marcel Duchamp, Katherine Dreier, and Walter Arensberg and funded for by the Society of Independent Artists. The concept behind the exhibit was the same as that of the magazine: to open the eyes of the public to the work being created that went ignored by elitist art critics and scholars. Nevertheless, Duchamp’s “readymade” Fountain, signed under the name “R. Mutt,” was rejected by the Independent Exhibition‘s selection committee. The second and last issue of The Blind Man expressed support for “R. Mutt” and criticized the Society for their narrow-mindedness. The issue also featured work by Mina Loy, Francis Picaba, Walter Conrad Arensburg, and others. Despite the magazine’s note that “Brave people who like to run risks may send to The Blind Man five dollars as subscription and encouragement,” the magazine failed to produce a third issue. The reason the editors changed the spelling of the magazine’s title in the second issue is unknown.
Although the editors of The Blindman never published an explicit manifesto, the first issue did include a paragraph detailing the little magazine’s goals:
“The Blindman’s procedure shall be that of referendum.
He will publish the questions and answers sent to him.
He will print what the artists and the public have to say.
He is very keen to receive suggestions and criticisms.
So, don’t spare him.
Here are his intentions:
He will publish reproductions of the most talked-of works.
He will give a chance to the leaders of any ‘school’ to ‘explain’ (provided they speak human).
He will print an annual Indeps for poetry, in a supplement open to all.
He will publish drawings, poems, and stories written and illustrated by children”
The Blindman. 1:1 (10 April 1917): 4.
Marcel Duchamp (Jul. 28, 1887 – Oct. 2, 1968)
Co-Editor: Apr. – May 1917
Marcel Duchamp was born into an artistic family in Blainville, France. Both his brother and half-brother were painters. Duchamp’s 1913 painting Nude Descending a Staircase sent shockwaves through the New York modernist scene for “its depiction of a nude, its nonrepresentational character, and its expression of motion,” and in 1915 Duchamp relocated from war-torn Paris to left wartime Paris to New York’s receptive art scene (Scott 66). Upon his arrival he joined the Arensberg circle, a group of radical artists, poets, and philosophers who convened at the home of Walter and Louise Arensberg. In 1917 Duchamp helped conceive the Independent Exhibition, a show in which any artist would be able to put his or her works on display. Duchamp submitted one of his first “readymades,” the infamous Fountain, under the pseudonym R. Mutt; to his outrage, the urinal was rejected by the Society (Scott 68). Undeterred, Duchamp stayed in New York until 1918, working on his masterpiece The Large Glass. Returning to Paris, Duchamp joined Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia and Man Ray in making Paris the international center for Dada (Scott 68). Duchamp eventually gave up producing art to pursue his lifelong passion for chess, and became an American citizen in 1955.
Beatrice Wood (Mar. 3, 1893 – Mar. 12, 1998)
Co-Editor: Apr. – May 1917
Although her wealthy San Franciscan family discouraged it, Beatrice Wood was determined to become an artist. Gaining admittance to the prestigious Académie Julian in Paris to study painting, Wood’s dreams seemed to be coming true until the onset of the First World War forced her return to America. She began acting in New York City, where she would meet Marcel Duchamp, her lifelong friend and occasional lover. Duchamp first introduced Wood to Henri Pierre Roché. Through the influence of these two men that Wood became involved in New York Dada: as she once proclaimed in a lecture, “What is Dada about this lecture is that I know nothing about Dada. I was only in love with men connected with it, which I suppose is as near to being Dada as anything” (Franklin 105). In 1916 Wood’s drawing Mariage D’une Amie (Marriage of a Female Friend), appeared in the little magazine Rogue, and her following year’s painting un peut d’eau dans du savon (A Little Water in Some Soap), received wide praise at the Independent Exhibition (Franklin 112). In 1918 Wood left New York for a brief stint in Montreal theater. When she returned to New York, Wood found that her old circle of friends had dissolved, so she moved west to Los Angeles to be close to the Arensbergs. There she pursued pottery and created magnificent glazes and forms for the rest of her life. Before her death in 1998 she was the sole surviving member of the Arensberg circle. She was 105.
Henri Pierre Roché (May 28, 1879 – April 9, 1959)
Co-Editor: Apr. – May 1917
Parisian Henri Pierre Roché was an avid art collector and dealer, journalist, and novelist. Accompanying Marcel Duchamp to New York in 1915, he became a member of the Arensberg circle, where he became famed for his many liaisons with Dada women, including Beatrice Wood, Clara Tice, and Louise Arensberg herself (Franklin 105). At the end of World War I Roché returned to France, where he wrote and continuing to collect and deal artwork. His most famous novel, Jules et Jim, was adapted into a movie by the French director François Truffaut in 1962. Roché died in Sèvres, France in 1959.
“The Richard Mutt Case”
Walter Conrad Arensberg
Robert Carlton Brown
“Eyes on the Half Shell”
“A Resolution Made at Bronx Park”
“From a friend”
“For Richard Mutt”
Cover Drawing (No. 2)
“Third Dimension; Portrait Sketch”
Cover Illustration (No. 1)
“O Marcel—otherwise I Also Have Been to Louise’s”
“Buddha of the Bathroom”
Henri Pierre Roché
“The Blind Man
“Tale by Erik Satie”
Francis Simpson Stevens
Fountain, R. Mutt
“Letter to the Editors”
“Why I Come to the Independents”
“Work of a Picture Hanger”
“Dream of a Picture Hanger”
“Biography of Beatrice Wood.” Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts. 2006-2009.
Franklin, Paul B. “Beatrice Wood, Her Dada…and Her Mama.” Women in Dada: Essays on Sex, Gender, and Identity. Ed. Naomi Sawelson-Gorse. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998. 104-137.
Image, Apr. 1917 issue. “Rarities from 1917: Facsimiles of The Blind Man No. 1, The Blind Man No. 2, and Rongwrong.” Tout-Fait: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal. 1.3 (Dec. 2000). Web. 14 July 2009.
Images, May 1917 issue. “Digital Dada Library Collection.” The International Dada Archive. 2007. University of Iowa. Web. 14 July 2009.
Kimmelman, Michael. “Forever Dada: Much Ado Championing the Absurd; Much Ado over the Absurd.” The New York Times 22 Nov. 1996: C1.
Razutis, Al. “Marcel Duchamp.” The American Beat Museum. 2003. Web.
Scott, William B., and Peter M. Rutkoff. New York Modern. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1999.
“The Blindman” compiled by Katharine Schulmann (Class of ’07, Davidson College)