Sleep in a Nest
  of Flames
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View, cover by Pavel Tchelitchew, December 1943

View magazine: parade of the avant-garde

View magazine (1940-1947) was founded and published by Charles Henri Ford. From their offices above the Stork Club, Ford and his associate editor Parker Tyler issued one of the principal publications which introduced the work of European avant-garde writers and artists to their American public. It also brought exposure to a number of American modernists and drew on a camp sensibility to encourage an appreciation of contemporary vernacular culture. They created a publication that would explore the Surrealist sensibility transplanted from Europe and give it new life as it came into contact with popular culture in the United States.

Writers as diverse as Paul Bowles, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Jorge Luis Borges, Jean Paul Sartre and Jean Genet were all included in the magazine. Among artists, Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell, Man Ray, André Masson, Fernand Léger and Isamu Noguchi found a home in this publication. The first monograph on Marcel Duchamp was an issue of View. In Sleep in a Nest of Flames Paul Bowles is interviewed and he tells how he put together one whole issue, the "Tropical Americana" number. Bowles tells the story he harvested from the popular press about two women in Mexico who were discovered to have killed babies and eaten their hearts. In conjunction with this we use Bowles' Mexican photos and collages along with a backing of Bowles' own piano piece Huapango #1.

Another section of the film deals with Joseph Cornell's "Crystal Cage." This was included in the "Americana Fantastica" issue and likewise is a story from a newspaper. Behind Cornell's evocative collages, a reading of the story tells us of Berenice whose parents moved a chinoiserie pagoda from Europe to the child's "native New England meadows. There she performed her experiments," miracles of ingenuity and poetry." The story acts as a sort of poetic metaphor for how European culture was transplanted to this country during the View period and how indigenous artists performed their own experiments in this country.

Dorothea Tanning, the noted Surrealist painter and wife of Max Ernst, tells a story about a visit by Ford and Pavel Tchelitchew to Tanning and Ernst in Sedona, Arizona during the summer of 1947. It involves a tale of the rescue of Tchelitchew by a dog and is told in a way that points the magical nature of such an event. Edmund White, the writer, scholar and Genet biographer, gives us an interview that describes Ford's relationship with Genet. View had sponsored Sartre's New York lecture at Carnegie Hall and it was through him Ford first learned about Jean Genet. Genet was published in View magazine, but the plan to publish Our Lady of the Flowers in English by View editions never came to fruition. The White interview conducted in his Paris apartment, shows how literary connections are made and developed; it also displays what an important role is played by this sort of artistic fraternity.



Jorge Luis Borges, Paul Bowles, André Breton, Albert Camus, e. e. cummings, Lawrence Durrell James T. Farrell, Charles Henri Ford, Jean Genet, Paul Goodman, Randall Jarrell, Lincoln Kirstein, Philip Lamantia, Julian Levy, Henry Mc Bride, Henry Miller, Marianne Moore, Jean-Paul Sartre, Meyer Shapiro, Wallace Stevens, Parker Tyler, William Carlos Williams

Alexander Calder, Leonora Carrington, Joseph Cornell, Max Ernst, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Morris Hirschfield, Paul Klee, Wilfredo Lam, Fernand Léger, Réné Magritte, André Masson, Joan Miro, Isamu Noguchi, Georgia O' Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Kurt Seligmann, Florine Stettheimer, Yves Tanguy


View cover, "Americana Fantastica", by Joseph Cornell, January, 1943


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