Magazine publishing is an exercise in ephemerality and transience; each issue goes out in the world only to be rendered obsolete by the next. To publish a magazine is to enter into a heightened relationship with the present moment. During the 1960s and 1970s, magazines became an important new site of artistic practice, functioning as an alternative exhibition space for the dematerialized practices of conceptual art. Artists created works expressly for these mass-produced, hand-editioned pages, using the ephemerality and the materiality of the magazine to challenge the conventions of both artistic medium and gallery. In Artists' Magazines, Gwen Allen looks at the most important of these magazines in their heyday (the 1960s to the 1980s) and compiles a comprehensive, illustrated directory of hundreds of others.
Among the magazines Allen examines are Aspen (1965–1971), a multimedia magazine in a box—issues included Super-8 films, flexi-disc records, critical writings, artists' postage stamps, and collectible chapbooks; Avalanche (1970-1976), which expressed the countercultural character of the emerging SoHo art community through its interviews and artist-designed contributions; Art-Rite (1973-1978), an irreverent zine with a disposable, newsprint format; Real Life (1979-1994), published by Thomas Lawson and Susan Morgan as a forum for the Pictures generation; 0 to 9 (1967–1969), a mimeographed poetry magazine founded by Vito Acconci and Bernadette Meyer; FILE (1972–1989), founded by the Canadian collective General Idea, its cover design a sly parody of Life magazine; and Interfunktionen (1968–1975), founded to protest the conservative curatorial strategies of Documenta. These and the other magazines Allen examines expressed their differences from mainstream media in both form and content: they cast their homemade, DIY quality against the slickness of an Artforum, and they created work that defied the formalist orthodoxy of the day. (A work by John Baldessari from the late 1960s shows a photograph of Artforum, captioned "THIS IS NOT TO BE LOOKED AT.") Artists' Magazines, featuring abundant color illustrations of magazine covers and content, offers an essential guide to a little-explored medium.
About the Author
Gwen Allen is Assistant Professor of Art History at SanFrancisco State University.
Table of Contents
- Artists’ Magazines
- Artists’ Magazines
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
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- This book was set in Helvetica Neue and Minion Pro by The MIT Press. Printed and bound in Spain.
- Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
- Allen, Gwen, 1971–
- Artists’ magazines : an alternative space for art / Gwen Allen.
- p. cm.
- Includes bibliographical references and index.
- ISBN 978-0-262-01519-6 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Art, Modern—20th century—Periodicals. 2. Art, Modern—20th century—Historiography. I. Title.
- N6490.A58 2011
- 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
- Acknowledgments vii
- Introduction 1
- 1 This Is Not to Be Looked At 13
- Artforum in the 1960s and 1970s
- 2 The Magazine as a Medium 43
- Aspen , 1965–1971
- 3 Art On and Off the Page 69
- 0 to 9 , 1967–1969
- 4 An Artists’ Magazine
- Avalanche , 1970–1976
- 5 The Magazine as an Alternative Space 121
- Art-Rite , 1973–1978
- 6 The Magazine as Mirror 147
- FILE , 1972–1989
- 7 Artists’ Magazines in the 1980s 175
- Real Life , 1979–1994
- 8 Epilogue: International Activity 201
- Interfunktionen , 1968–1975
- Appendix: A Compendium of Artists’ 227 Magazines from 1945 to 1989
- Notes 315
- Selected Bibliography 347
- The MIT Press
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- London, England 351
- An Alternative Space for Art
- Gwen Allen
“ amongst the most thorough discursions into the influence of little magazines upon late-twentieth-century visual culture...it is great to read for its well-researched history and analysis of a period when little magazines were testing the waters of art and publishing.” —Eye
"Allen's ability to read artists' magazines with the same kind of close attention demanded by works of art is admirable, and the detailed appendix of journals founded between 1945 and 1989 is indispensable. No longer will artists' magazines be considered epiphenomena of artistic production. This book is essential reading for anyone who is concerned with art of the second half of the twentieth century."
Alexander Alberro, author of Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity
"Gwen Allen engagingly excavates the fertile ground of artists' magazines and brings key artifacts of historical innovation to light. Allen deftly details how, beginning in the early sixties, a range of artists and writers effectively activated the magazine form as vehicle and the page as medium, generating dynamic communities in the process. Allen's book is itself a page-turner!"
Julie Ault, artist, writer, and cofounder of Group Material
"This study of several artists' magazines from the sixties to the eighties, centered mainly on the downtown New York art scene, usefully augments more familiar ways of regarding the events of that time. Most of these magazines were clearly nurseries for new talents that had no home in existing organs, and therefore took the initiative to make their work public on their own terms. Artists' Magazines is particularly valuable for the inclusion of extracts from interviews with editors and protagonists, who thereby put on record new information with the perspective of hindsight. Underlying the profiling of certain titles is an interwoven narrative that considers the functions and characteristics of the genre and its international significance during that period."
Clive Phillpot, writer, curator, and former art librarian
"Beautifully written and brilliantly designed, Gwen Allen's book demonstrates how magazines from Avalanche and Art-Rite to File and Real Life opened a critical and creative alternative to the commercial gallery system and the mainstream art press. Best of all, Allen makes the magazines--and the history of conceptual art and collaborative publication--come alive again. Artists' Magazines is at once an indispensable visual archive, a superb scholarly feat, and a great read."
Richard Meyer, Associate Professor of Art History and Director of The Contemporary Project, University of Southern California
Honorable Mention, 2011 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Art History & Criticism, presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers