- 291 occupies an interesting position among the journals of modernist art. It is the first magazine to style itself as a work of art in its own right. It is also the first expression of the dada esthetic in the United States; proto-dada, actually, dada avant la lettre, before dada had started in Zürich in 1916. Only Arthur Cravan’s short-lived Maintenant can be said to precede it as an instance of pre-dada sensibility anywhere in the periodic press.
- 291 took its original inspiration from Apollinaire’s Soirées de Paris, emphasizing calligrammatic texts and an abstracted kind of satirical drawing, but it cast these into a much more dramatic form by moving into a gigantic folio format and simultaneously dematerializing into a single gatefold sheet of paper. Always envisioned as a limited run of twelve numbers, 291 is the critical link between Camera Work - which Stieglitz duly suspended in the interim - and Picabia’s own 391 - styled as its radical successor. Issued in a deluxe edition of 100 copies and a regular edition of 1000, 291 was a financial fiasco, failing to sell more than eight subscriptions on vellum and a hundred on ordinary paper, and in the end Stieglitz sold the entire backstock to a ragpicker for $5.80.
- TEXT CREDITS
ars libri catalogue no. 138 (s.a.), item nr. 82.
No. 1 (1915) [Collection New York Public Library].
n° 1 (March 1915) - n° 12 (February 1916)
editors Paul B. Haviland, Marius de Zayas and Agnes Ernst Meyer
'291' : 291 Fifth Avenue. New York 1915-1916.
12 numbers, 9 issues; published in an edition of 1100 copies; special edition limited to one hundred autographed copies on special paper.
4-6 pages; varying formats.
- main contributors
Braque, Max Jacob, Edward Steichen, John Marin, Alberto Savinio, J.B. Kerfoot, Katharine Rhoades, Alfred Stieglitz, Guillaume Apollinaire, Agnes E. Meyer, Francis Picabia, and Marius de Zayas.
- [printed] Reprinted in 291, N° 1-12 / edited by Dorothy Norman (Arno Press : New York 1972).
- Dawn Ades
'291, The Ridgefield Gazook, The Blind Man, Rongwrong, TNT, New York Dada', in Dawn Ades, Dada and Surrealism Reviewed / with an introduction by David Sylvester and a supplement essay by Elizabeth Cowling (Arts Council of Britain : London 1978) 32-43.
- Willard Bohn
'Visualizing women in 291', in Women in Dada. Essays on sex, gender, and identity / edited by Naomi Sawelson-Gorse (MIT Press : Cambridge MA 1998) 240-261.
- Jeanne Brun
'291', in Dada (Editions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 62-63.
- William A. Camfield
'Du "291" à 391. Alfred Stiegtliz, Marius de Zayas et Francis Picabia, un dialogue à trois, 1913-1917', in New York et l’art moderne. Alfred Stieglitz et son cercle (1905-1930) (Réunion des musées nationaux etc. : Paris etc. 2004) 117-140. Catalogue of an exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay (18 October 2004-16 January 2005) and at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (10 February-16 May 2005).
- Jerry Cargill
Stieglitz's 291: An American Avant-Garde Magazine (Columbia College Chicago 1994, 2008) [online]; available at <http://www.cargillcontemporary.com/papers/291/> [lost 2 August 2012].
- Emily Hage
New York and European Dada Art Journals, 1916-1926: International Venues of Exchange (S.l. : s.n. 2005) 55-69.
- Béatrice Mousli
'291-391', in Béatrice Mousli, Max Jacob (Flammarion : Paris 2005) 149-152.
- Dorothy Norman
'Introducing 291', in 291, N° 1-12 / edited by Dorothy Norman (Arno Press : New York 1972).
- William Rozaitis
'The Joke at the Heart of Things: Francis Picabia's Machine Drawings and the Little Magazine 291', in American Art 8, No. 3/4 (Summer - Autumn 1994) 43-59 [JSTOR Stable URL www.jstor.org/stable/3109171].