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Artists' Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art 1st Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262015196
ISBN-10: 0262681102
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Editorial Reviews


…amongst the most thorough discursions into the influence of little magazines upon late-twentieth-century visual 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.


[An] intently researched valentine to vintage small-press heroics.

(Martin Herbert Art Review)

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)

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)

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)

About the Author

Gwen Allen is Associate Professor of Art History at SanFrancisco State University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (March 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262681102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262015196
  • ASIN: 0262015196
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alexander D. Provan on June 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Allen's book is a great chronicle of the rise and fall of artists' magazines--among them Aspen, 0 to 9, Avalanche, Art-Rite, FILE, and Real Life--that, in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, provided a space for artists to colonize the discourse of the art world, and do so in their own voices. Artists like Robert Smithson, Dan Graham, Mel Bochner, and Vito Acconci created magazine art where criticism had once been, emphasizing the materiality of language, denying its ability to communicate. (Graham's "Schema," a site-specific instructional piece published in a variety of magazines in the 60s and 70s, is a paramount example; it consisted of a template to be completed by the editor, in accordance with the magazine's typography, design, and layout, producing a new work in each iteration.) They published texts that were oftentimes unresolved, propositional, exploratory--concerned with process, not product; conjecture, not conclusion. Allen, an art historian at San Francisco State University, describes their "articles" as "guerilla tactics that attempted to commandeer the commercial publicity of the magazine by manipulating its form, content, mode of address, and audience."

While this suggests a certain measure of calculation, much of what is compelling about these magazines is a product of their messiness, the substitution of passion for professionalism, and the sense--inevitably inflated--of the importance of the present moment. These magazines sought to embody conceptual art's focus on the contingencies of time and space, and the activation rather than supplication of the viewer. For Smithson, the magazine was a site not unlike the Great Salt Lake, the page a material not unlike rock or sand.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an essential guide and critical reading of independent arts publishing from the 1950s onwards. Allen has take the time to meticulously catalogue the different publications and some of their most ephemeral acts. Together with Johanna Drucker's The Century of Artist's Books, this book comprehensively covers the concept of publishing as alternative art space.
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By Pedro Barbosa on March 25, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent Book
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