BLAST at 100 is an exhibition of original copies of both issues of BLAST, currently on display in the Long Room of the Old Library in Trinity College Dublin, alongside a range of contemporary art prints and journals, demonstrating BLAST‘s contexts as well as its influence upon later artists and designers. Running in association with the one-day international symposium which will take place on Wednesday 2 July, 2014, in the nearby Trinity Long Room Hub.
Published on the eve of the First World War in July 1914, BLAST marked the emergence of Vorticism, a new, modernist, British art movement. Led by Wyndham Lewis (1882 – 1957), Vorticism was responding to other avant-garde and nationally-defined art movements such as Futurism in Italy, Expressionism in Germany, and the Celtic Revival in Ireland. With its bright cover and bold type, BLAST distinguished itself from other art vernaculars then popular in Britain and Ireland, such as academic painting or colourful Post-Impressionist styles.
The volume included a manifesto for Vorticism signed by Lewis, Edward Wadsworth, Ezra Pound, William Roberts, Helen Saunders, Lawrence Atkinson, Richard Aldington, Cuthbert Hamilton, Malcolm Arbuthnot, Jessica Dismoor, and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. The content in the magazine was not limited to these signatories however: as a whole BLAST presents a fascinating overview of avant-garde artists and authors working in Britain at this time.
In the exhibition currently on view at the Long Room of the Old Library in Trinity College, both issues of BLAST are presented in context. Seen alongside examples of contemporary avant-garde and other art publications, the radicalism of BLAST’s spirit becomes clear. Its influence upon later art movements and journals is also showcased, as is the later work of a number of its contributors, in the fields of sculpture, criticism, architecture and engineering.
These artists were the participants of the ‘great London vortex’ of 1914, a powerful concentration of individual energies, a startling and potent grouping of talent, and BLAST was its articulation.
For more information about the exhibition, see the online version of the exhibition on the Library website, here.