View Magazine (1940-1947)

It was not until Charles Henri Ford's View came along that America had its own avant-garde literary and art magazine.
-Paul Bowles

View magazine Series 4, No. 3. Fall (Oct) 1944.
Cover by Fernand Leger.

Surrealist poet and Mississippi native Charles Henri Ford (1910-2002) created View in 1940 while living in New York City. He published and edited the influential little magazine for seven years. Ford's original idea was to establish a new sort of journalism where the truth of world events was reported and reflected "through the eyes of poets." Originally in a tabloid newspaper style, the first issue of View featured Ford's interview with the reclusive poet Wallace Stevens at his home in Connecticut. Out in the garden, Stevens complained about the "pose and theatricality" surrounding Mrs. Roosevelt on a recent flight they shared, chatted about Dylan Thomas, and told Ford to make him "look romantic" in the photograph for the article. The issue included the Stevens poem, "Materia Poetica."

After World War II began in earnest, European writers and artists began arriving in New York. View grew along with the emerging art scene and evolved into a slick, large-format avant-garde magazine with dazzling covers by major figures of the modern art movement. Léger, Duchamp, Man Ray, Masson, Magritte, Noguchi and Ford's partner, Pavel Tchelitchew, all contributed cover designs during View's publication run. Many issues were dedicated to specific artists. The Max Ernst issue of April 1942 featured an essay by the leader of European surrealism, André Breton. Ford's particular favorite was the March 1945 issue on Marcel Duchamp. View, Inc. published the first monograph on Duchamp.

View captured and cataloged a surrealist sensibility but was not limited by the strict confines and manifestos of the famously cliquish group. Ford participated in the salons and artistic collaborations that blossomed in 1930s Paris, where he first met Breton, American ex-patriots like Djuna Barnes and Paul Bowles, and others who would become friends and, later, contributors to View. When his European cohorts began fleeing their war-torn countries, they moved to New York City and naturally built a dynamic artistic community. Galleries like Peggy Guggenheim's Art of this Century and Julian Levy's showcased the European refugees' works. Ford took full advantage. He partnered with the galleries and presented View numbers as catalogs for their shows. Gallery owners would foot the bill, and Ford would have a sparkling new issue.

Ford was an experienced editor and publisher when he started View. He first published Blues: a Magazine of New Rhythms in 1929 from his home in Columbus, MS. Blues was first to publish writers Erskine Caldwell and Parker Tyler. Connections Ford made while producing the eight issues of Blues served him well when he started View. Ford co-authored with Parker Tyler what some consider the first gay novel, The Young and Evil (Obelisk Press, 1933). Tyler became part of Ford's View editorial team and contributed the typography, lay-out and design that helped define the fresh aesthetic of the magazine. View peaked at a circulation of 3000, according to Ford, and ultimately encompassed an eclectic array of literary and artistic production. Ford published the last issue in March of 1947. Tchelitchew contributed the cover art.

Little magazines like View presented new and "untested" writers before many of the established publications would give them a chance. Faulkner and Hemingway were first published in The Double Dealer, for instance. The avant-garde nature of the little magazine records for history pre-institutionalized intellectual movements. Their position on the cultural landscape makes these publications significant for Special Collections and others who seek to preserve our social and intellectual history. The McCain Library & Archives holds twenty-nine issues of View. For a list of the issues, go the the catalog record for the View

For questions about this journal, call the Special Collections reference desk at 601.266.4345 or Ask-a-Librarian. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Further Reading:

Ford, Charles Henri, ed. View: Parade of the Avant-Garde. New York: Thunder's
     Mouth Press, 1991. [McCain Library MISS NX456 .V49 1991]

Tashjian, Dickran. A Boatload of Madmen: Surrealism and the American Avant-
1920 -1950. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1995.
[USM Libraries does not own this title. Use Interlibrary Loan in Cook Library to borrow from another institution]

Text for this "Item of the Month" prepared by Peggy Price.

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