Marcel Duchamp
View, Inc., New York, 1945, English
Nonfiction, Art and Cultural History

From Modernism 101. This spectacular issue from 1945 featured covers and interior collage layouts designed by Duchamp — making this the first monograph ever published of his work.

The "Marcel Duchamp Number" begins with a poem of Charles Henri Ford's overprinted on a photo by Man Ray of "The Large Glass." The introductory essay and first long piece are by Andre Breton with many reproductions of Duchamp's work. Following are articles on Duchamp by James Thrall Soby, Robert Desnos' "Rrose Selavy: 1922-1923," Harriet & Sidney Janis, Nicolas Calas plus a delicate fold-out triptych with die-cut elements "Triptych" by Frederick Kiesler: "The following Triptych when unfoldeded represents three walls of Duchamp's studio on 14th Street in New York. The cut-out flaps, left and right, when bent toward the center, transform the interior wall into a vision of the 'Mariee mise a nu.'" Also features contributions by Philip Lamantia and many others. This March 1945 isssue was Editor Ford's particular favorite.

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Thomas Girst

My library contains over 200 books on or by Marcel Duchamp, including many of his original designs. For Designers & Books I singled out the 1945 issue of View magazine (bound as a book in a special edition of 100 copies), with its cover by Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp also designed many book covers throughout his career.

The influence of View’s publisher, Charles Henri Ford, and his importance for European as well as American art of the 20th century, is not to be underestimated. Already at the age of 16, Ford was the publisher of the literary journal Blues, highly praised by Gertrude Stein. Among all the amazing things he accomplished until he passed away in 2002 was View, which introduced many international modernist and avant-garde poets and artists to an English-speaking audience.

Marcel Duchamp was not only one of the greatest and most intelligent minds of the 20th century, he was also a truly innovative graphic designer. Milton Glaser based his famous Bob Dylan poster of 1966 on Duchamp’s Self-Portrait in Profile (1958). He also hailed the artist’s 1953 typographical poster for Sidney Janis’s exhibition New York Dada as a source of inspiration to the entire field. As Steven Heller noted in an e-mail exchange with me, “Marcel Duchamp's magazines, Rongwrong, The Blind Man, and New York Dada prefigured the underground press punk and fanzine cultures that emerged in the U.S. Since these publications were ‘un-designed,’ they gave credence to the idea of anti-design. What Duchamp hath wrought, many in my generation continued.”

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