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  • Writer's pictureSteven Heller

Duchamp’s Underground Press

Three “indie,” or what were also called “little” magazines, were produced in New York in 1917 by Marcel Duchamp, Beatrice Wood and Henri-Pierre Roché. Only two issues of the Blind Man ever appeared, but these included a who’s who of the New York and Paris avant-gardes: Mina Loy, Walter Conrad Arensberg, Francis Picabia, Gabrielle Buffet, Allen Norton, Clara Tice, Alfred Stieglitz, Charles Demuth, Charles Duncan, Erik Satie, Carl Van Vechten and Louise Norton all appeared in its pages.

All the contributors had some tangential role in the scandal of Duchamp’s Fountain by R. Mutt, though the name was then unknown to the protagonists. Duchamp’s close friend Francis Picabia was in New York at the same time and his 391 was also exploring Duchamp’s idea of the “readymade.”

The Blind Man’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.

“Allegedly, the fate of the Blind Man was decided in a chess game between Roché and Picabia (who was about to put out his own Dada publication, 391),” says Sophie Seita in her introductory reader’s guide. And the magazine went out with a bang—its final issue has gone down in art history for featuring Stieglitz’s iconic photograph of Duchamp’s “Fountain” and a defense of that work, seen now as perhaps the most important artwork of the 20th century.

The Blind Man: New York Dada, 1917 brings back the Blind Man magazine in a facsimile reprint, along with reproductions of the Ridgefield Gazook and the poster for the Blind Man’s Ball designed by Beatrice Wood, all packaged together in a handsome boxed set.

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