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Aside from being some form of a magazine, probably the only characteristics that all the publications above share is that they are “independent” productions – that is, relatively small edition runs with no major commercial affiliations or prospects, and that they aspire towards forms and processes of innovation in the arts. While there are overlapping topics, strategies, and communities represented within this listing, it is otherwise a highly diverse grouping of publications.
So, what are “artists’ magazines”?
In “Alternative Art Publishing : Artists’ Magazines (1960 – 1980)” Stephen Perkins identifies several innovative features that separates them from the conventional fare:
In the words of Howardena Pindell, the artist produced magazine came to function as an “alternative space.” This concept undermined and collapsed two inherited structures endemic to previous assumptions about magazines:
Artists now began to write about the art world from within the movements, carving out a partisan position that circumvented the established critical apparatus, and it was hoped, would undermine the hegemony of the art world power structure;
Where previously art work, texts and documentation were ‘illustrated’ in magazines, in this new ‘space’ the magazine became the primary site for the works themselves.
The magazine becomes an exhibition space, a critical space, a documentary space and an archival space…With ideas of the traditional gallery in serious question and many artists, nationally and internationally, working outside of these structures, the artists’ magazine offered an important and efficient link in disseminating new work amongst this emerging international community. For artists whose work did not require a physical site for its realization, artists’ magazines functioned as simultaneous bridges between artists in varied geographic locations and as a sites through which ‘transnational’ collaborations could take place. Running parallel to this expanded concept of what a magazine could be, was a redefinition of what could take place in the space of the page itself. The page subsequently became a site dominated by the visual image, absorbing the text within itself, and this new fusion permeates artists’ self publishing to this day…
Because the form, function, and history of artists magazines has been so closely intertwined with the artists’ book, they have always been an important part of Printed Matter’s inventory. But they also have their own distinct history and role. The following offers a sampling of the many different possibilities of what Artists’ Magazines can be.
Considered an important influence on much conceptual art in both the UK and the US, Art–Language was founded in Coventry, England by artists Terry Atkinson, David Bainbridge, Michael Baldwin and Harold Hurrell. The group would expand to include up to 50 people by 1982. The periodical deals with questions surrounding art production with a particular emphasis on linguistic, philosophic, symbolic and political theory.
Founded in 1973 by Joshua Cohn, Edit DeAk and Walter Robinson, Art-Rite ran for 19 issues through 1978 and charted the downtown New York art scene as a second generation of multi-media experimental artists emerged from the first generation of conceptualists. An art forerunner of the punk ‘zine, Art-Rite was printed on newsprint and had a decidedly insider point of view. The magazine alternated between thematic issues – many with an artist produced cover – and issues done as a single artist’s, or collective’s project. These back issues provide a time-capsule glimpse into the innovation and radical spirit of contemporary art in New York preceding the onslaught of the 1980’s art market boom.
The issues are 28 x 21 cm, paperback, staple bound, offset printed.
Assembling, which ran for 13 plus issues from 1970 to 1985, ranges in content from experimental fiction to concrete poetry and visual writing, collage and other visual works employing a variety of printing and reproductive methods– including offset, photocopy, mimeograph, rubberstamp, carbon copies and even hand rendered copying). A self described “collaborative magazine of the unpublished and unpublishable, of works too eccentric to be accepted elsewhere”, Assembling was edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Henry Korn and Mike Metz, and was one of the seminal projects of a genre of magazines that came to be known by the same name. In an open submission policy, contributors were invited to submit 1000 copies of up to four 8 ½" x 11" pages of anything they wanted to include–printed at their own expense. Submissions were collated alphabetically with biographical notes identifying most of the contributors. As Stephen Perkins writes of the radical potential of this strategy of production: “In important ways these magazines invert the traditional publishing model: editorial prerogative is abolished, the contributors now become the editors, and the ‘editors’ assume the role of coordinators…More importantly, assembling magazines threw open the doors for anyone to step onto the omnibus of experimental publishing”.
The issues are 21.5 x 29 cm, paperback, staple, post, or glue bound, and use various printing methods.
Founded in the early 80s, Bomb magazine chronicles the cutting edge of downtown New York culture life. The magazine features an array of discourses on visual arts, fiction, theatre, film, video, music and dance, with contributions from leading personalities of each genre.
Published and edited by Stephen Willats, Control Magazine has documented the work of many artists, both from the UK and abroad and encouraged a wide discussion of artists’ practices. It has included contributions and original pieces from an extensive range of artists over its eighteen issues. Since 1965, the magazine has published work and writing by over 150 artists, including John Latham, Roy Ascot, Anthony Benjamin, Dan Graham, Mary Kelly, Helen Chadwick, Tony Cragg, Dennis Adams, Lawrence Weiner, Anish Kapoor, Martha Rosler, Jeremy Deller, alongside collectives and collaboratives such as Gallerie in Friedrichstrasse, Artists Placement Group and early producer’s galleries such as that of Dieter Hacker. Many of the artists have made artwork specially for the magazine.
Founded by artist and educator Sally Alatalo in Chicago, Du Da (variously also titled Chicago Dada, DoDa, doo da, and do dah) was a (loosely) tri-quarterly publication which ran from 1984 to 1991. Issues often included collaborative projects with (often pseudonymous) artists, and throughout its history Du Da experimented with different formats, each issue becoming a discrete artists’ publication while also relating to the series as a whole. Alatalo oversaw the offset printing herself, performing a variety of hand manipulations in the printing process which gives many of the issues a screen-print quality.
Alatalo writes of the project: “As a young artist I gravitated toward art that connected to everyday life and that offered an alternative to what seemed an impenetrable and impossibly intimidating art world. Bits and pieces of art history such as the Dada publications, as well as artists including Eleanor Antin, Alison Knowles, Suzanne Lacy, Linda Montano, Ed Ruscha, and small publishers like Coracle, Something Else Press and Weproductions, influenced my early projects. Their printed publications provided what seemed a perfect model with which to coalesce my simultaneous interests in text, image, print technology and form, and came with a built-in distribution network that allowed me to circumvent a conventional gallery context…Duda magazine provided a place to play”.
The separate issues come in a variety of sizes, binding and casing types and are offset printed.
This short run but highly influential magazine was edited by Ian Burn, Sarah Charlesworth, Michael Corris, Joseph Kosuth, Andrew Menard, Mel Ramsden, and Preston Heller, and published by Art & Language. The Fox put out only three issues in 1975-76. Issue 2 opens with a call to participants, which also acts as a mission statement: “If you are interested in trying to reclaim art as an instrument of social and cultural transformation, in exposing the domination of the culture/administrative apparatus as well as art which indolently reflects that apparatus, you are urged to participate in this journal. Its editorial thrust is ideological: it aims at a contribution to the wider movement of social criticism/transformation.” Very limited quantities available.
The issues are approximately 27 x 21.5 cm, paperback, glue bound, and offset printed.
Gagarin is an ongoing Belgian journal that collects original texts by contemporary artists working all over the world. Each text corresponds to the artist’s work, by way of analysis, invention, or biography and thus range from the scholarly, to the documentary, to the experimental. Texts are presented in their original languages with English translations where needed. In an effort to divest the publication of filters, Gagarin does not use illustrative photography or advertising; it does, however, include original drawings, written notations, and individualized templates.
Gagarin is published biannually by GagaVZW for the Municipal Academy of Fine Arts of Waasmunster as a contribution from the Archive for Small Press and Communication (ASPC). Gagarin shares its name with the Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space and the first person to orbit the Earth.
The issues are 22 x 16 cm, paperback, glue bound and offset printed.
Begun in 1977 in New York, Heresies was structured as a working community, with each thematic issue produced by a changing editorial collective. Each issue features a wide variety of artists’ works, essays, prose and poetry.
”As a step toward a demystification of art, we reject the standard relationship of advertiser to product. We will not advertise a new set of genius-products just because they are made by women. We are not committed to any particular style or esthetic, nor to the competitive mentality that pervades the art world. Our view of feminism is one of process and change, and we feel that in the process of this dialogue we can foster a change in the meaning of art.” – The Heresies Editorial Collective, 1977.
The issues are approximately 22 x16 cm, paperback, mostly glue bound and offset printed.
High Performance was a quarterly arts magazine founded in 1978 and published until 1997. Initially focusing on performance art and experimental theater, the magazine broadened its editorial mission to include “new innovative and unrecognized works in the arts,” especially work that was socially and politically engaged. Based in Los Angeles, the magazine provided a regional forum for experimentation in performance related work, but had an international scope as well. As such, the individual issues offer a lively and fascinating overview of alternative, performance related art practices over two decades.
The issues are 28 x 21.5 cm, paperback, glue or staple bound, and offset printed.
Beginning in 1984, David Schmidlapp produced this first ever magazine devoted to graffiti art and culture, as the graffiti craze was peaking both in the New York City subway system and with its entry into the East Village gallery scene. At first Schmidlapp approached the project as an outsider, but as the only published outlet for the graffiti artists it soon became a full-blown collaboration with members of the grafitti community. Not only a rich chronicle of the subway writing of the 1980’s, this magazine also provided a forum for the voices of the community of writers. The contents reflect how politicized the grafitti movement was – the artists are immersed in urban politics, from education to police violence, and there is a national and international scope as well. Ironically, as contemporary art galleries dropped graffiti artists to move on to the next passing trend, the hip hop culture – with graffiti as its signature aesthetic – exploded into one of the most far reaching popular cultural movements in history.
An ongoing periodical, Irregulomadaire was founded by designers/artists Jean-Charles Depaule, Jerome Saint-Loubert Bie and Susanna Shannon in Paris in 1990 as an experimental publishing project. As the name suggests, Irregulomadaire does not come out on a fixed time schedule. Each issue has a different theme and employs a different editorial process or strategy, as well as a different format, even different paper stocks (sometimes within the same issue).
An emphasis on process as a means of shaping content is a common thread in all the issues. For instance, Issue 2 “Les rues des Caire (The Streets of Cairo), was printed in Cairo in order to see how the place of production can affect not only the look of the product, but also what it says and means. Issue 3 took the topic of tools as its primary focus; the artists, writers and designers, submitted work which responded to a specific basement shop in Paris, from which the editors made an extended montage on building materials and processes. In other issues, the artists switched jobs and tasks away from their areas of expertise in order to bring a fresh perspective to the mechanics of the production, and thus the content of the magazine.
The result of this is a kind of utilitarian aesthetic: multiple layers and sequences of text and images, transform the banal and everyday into a dynamic and engaged visual surface.
The issues are a variety of sizes, paperback (except No. 5 is hardback), glue or stitched binding, and offset printed.
New Observations is an innovative arts journal that has brought the artists’ voice to the public forum in an extraordinarily prolific run, publishing 128 issues from 1981 – 2001. Recently acquired by Artist Organized Art, a non-profit organization, New Observations will start up again as an on-line periodical.
Written, edited, illustrated and published from the arts community, the mission of New Observations has been to present a diversity of editorial voices and topics from the many aesthetic and cultural traditions that constitute the arts. New Observations is produced in a modest staple bound, B&W format, and features a wide range of visual art, artists’ projects for the page, essays, poetry, and fiction. Each issue is guest-edited and devoted to a specific theme. Including both well established and emerging artists, New Observations’ perspective is decidedly from the inside out, rather than the usual outside-in perspective of the commercial journals.
Most issues are 28 x 22 cm, paperback, post or staple bound, and offset printed.
Originally edited by artist, writer and curator, Thomas Lawson and writer, Susan Morgan, Real Life featured writings, interviews and projects from a budding community of artists that would later become known as the “Pictures Generation.” Published in twenty-three issues from 1979-1994 as an intermittent black and white magazine, Real Life featured artists and art historians writing on art, media and popular culture interspersed with pictorial contributions. Through its 15 year history, the magazine traces the influences, development and transitions of artists through the 1980’s and beyond.
The issues are 28 x 21.5 cm, paperback, staple bound and offset printed.
The first publication from Surrealist painter William Copley’s The Letter Edged in Black Press, SMS had a short (six issue) but rich lifespan. Conceived as a utopian/democratic meeting ground for artists’ projects of all stripes, SMS contributors were not given any direction or restrictions on the work they produced for the bi-monthly portfolio. Whatever the artists created, Copley and his assistant Dimitri Petrov reproduced with scrupulous fidelity to the original, sparing no expense. The work ranged from the purely conceptual to the carefully crafted, from well known and unknown artists alike. Subscriptions were sold and the portfolios were sent through the mail. The first SMS portfolio, whose cover/case was designed by Irving Petling, comes in a cardboard mailer addressed to the original recipient and contains the work of Su Braden, James Lee Byars, Christo, Walter DeMaria, Richard Hamilton, Kaspar König, Julien Levy, Sol Mednick, Nancy Reitkopf, and La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. A formal announcement card serves as a table of contents.
Founded, published and edited by writer and curator Melissa Feldman, Stroll was a short run periodical that was devoted to all manner of “outdoor” urban art. Stroll not only documented different public art projects of the time, but also provided a forum for an assortment of related issues, critiques, and commentaries.
Vol.1, No. 1 is 43 x 27 cm, and Vol. 2, No. 1 is 38.5 x 26.5 cm, both are staple bound; issue 4/5 and 6/7 are 27 x 20 cm and glue bound; all issues are paperback and offset printed.
Begun as the newsletter for Political Art Documentation and Distribution (PAD), this magazine would evolve into a full-fledged review and resource for political and activist art and artists. PAD was spearheaded by Lucy Lippard, and was meant to serve as an artists’ resource and networking organization, specifically “to provide artists with an organized relationship to society”. Although we only have a few copies of some of the early issues (when it was in its newsletter format), they not only are fascinating snapshots of the aesthetic and energy of artist dissent in the age of Reagan, but also are instructive manuals for a new generation of socially conscious artists.
The issues are 28 x 22 cm, paperback, staple bound (except 1st issue is not bound), and offset printed.
Edited by Phil Mariani and Brian Wallis, Wedge was a seminal periodical combining artists’ projects and critical and theoretical writings that ran during the early to mid 1980’s. Wedge brought together the discourses of various disciplines – aesthetics, literary theory, history, psychoanalysis – which informed the politically and socially engaged art practices of this period.
The issues are 26 x 22 cm, paperback, glue bound (except No. 3/4/5), and offset printed.
Founded in 1978 in Chicago by artist Buzz Spector and writers Reagan and Roberta Upshaw, Whitewalls began as a publication for artists working with language. For the most part Whitewalls is a straight-up sampler of artists’ experimental projects for the page: each issue contains from half a dozen to several dozen artists employing text, image, and other notations in various combinations. While Whitewalls featured an international cast of emerging and established artists, it also provided a showcase for the Chicago area’s experimental art community, including artists such as Jeane Dunning, Joseph Nechvatal, and Christopher Wool. In 2004, after issue number 45, Whitewalls transitioned from a periodic journal to publishing distinct artists’ books.
Almost all issues are 21.5 x 14 cm, paperback, glue bound and offset printed; Vol. 1, No. 1 and No. 3 are staple bound and the issues after No. 32 measure 28 x 22 cm
Begun in London in 1980 by Rosetta Brookes, ZG ran 14 issues until 1985 (ZG would eventually also be published out of New York where much of its attention was focused). Brookes began the magazine in response to what she saw as an increasingly isolated, inaccessible, and thus irrelevant art world. ZG was to be a platform where many different forms of cultural activity – music, art, fashion, etc –could be celebrated and critically examined. Like many of the emerging artists and cultural theorists of the early 80’s, ZG drew upon a sociological critique of a broad range of cultures – popular cultures, elite cultures, sub cultures – and their different hybridized manifestations. Each issue was assigned a theme, often with pop culture overtones (Icons & Idols, Future Dread, Heroes, Political Fictions, etc) and presented a richly overlaid response – in the writing, in the imagery and artworks, and in the design (most issues are in an oversized 42 x 28 cm format). Along with Real Life and Wedge, ZG is one of the definitive small run periodicals that really captures the perspective and spirit of the 1980’s New York concentric art scene.
Available issues are approximately 42 x 28 cm, paperback, staple bound and offset printed; No. 2 folds in half to 30 x 21 cm.