Contact's manifesto appeared on the first page of the first
issue of the magazine in 1921. Click on the link at the bottom of the
page to see the manifesto in its original, mimeographed format.
Issued in the conviction that art which attains is indigenous of experience
and relations and that the artist works to express perceptions rather
than to attain standards of acheivement: however much information and
past art may serve to clarify his perceptions and sophisticate his comprehensions,
they will be no standard they will be no standard by which his work is
adjudged. For if there are standards in reality and in existence and
if there are values and relations which are absolute, they will apply
to art. Otherwise any standard of criticism is a mere mental exercise,
and past art signifies nothing.
We are here because of our faith in the existence of native artists
who are capable of having, comprehending and recording extraordiniary
expriences; we possess intellect sufficient to carry over the force of
their emotional vigour; who do not weaken their work with humanitarianism;
who deal with our situations, realizing that it is the degree of understanding
about , and not suggestions themsevles, which is of prime importance;
and who receive meagre recognition.
Attainment is meaningless unless there
be some basis of measurement. Wishing to be opened-minded toward all
that many literary forms, the novel, shorty story, metrical verse, are
mannered, copied, and pretensious technique, -- we still do not intend
becoming spokesmen for any movement, group, or theory, and as thoroughly
dislike any a modern tradionalism as any manner of perceiving art. That
artists are sophisticated beings who utilize their own contacts in art
creation, and erudition incidentially as it has been assimilated, is
an assumption of ours. They will be scientific insofar as medium is concerned,
but their substance is no more scientificthan is that of existance.
We will be American, because we are of America; racial or international
as the contractual realizations of those whose work we publish have been
these. Particularly we will adopt no aggressive or inferior attitude
toward “imported thought” or art.
Our only instructions are upon standards which reality as the artists
senses it creates, in contradistinction to standards of social, moral
or scholastic value –hangovers from past generations no better
equipped to ascertain value than are we. Assuming sufficient insight
and intellect to convey feeling valuably, we are interested in the
writings of such individuals as are capable of putting a sense of contact,
of definite personal realization into their work.
Click here to see Manifesto in original format