Another art glossy makes a go of it

ArtWorld03.jpg“How come that title is still available?” I thought to myself as a smiling woman handed me a copy of ART WORLD magazine at the recent Armory Show in New York. The attractive U.K.-based bimonthly is unlikely to win any major writing awards, but it gets a friendly slap on the back for letting the art do the talking.

The first impression is somewhat of a letdown: a parade of short and light news items about all the usual-suspect events, including cheesy snaps from Larry Gagosian’s opening in Rome, followed by profiles of overexposed art celebs (is there anything about Tracey Emin we don’t already know?) But as you dig further into the magazine, the artists turn less predictable. Best of all, whole spreads are filled up with comfortably spaced, high-quality reproductions of actual work. Nice job.

One thing ART WORLD doesn’t cover in great depth is, well, the broader art world. Issue No. 3 has a single dealer profile. Basically, it’s a traditional art magazine in a slightly updated, newsier garb. And that may be just fine. Will this one survive?

3 thoughts on “Another art glossy makes a go of it

  1. András is quite right that this newish London-based magazine doesn’t seem to tackle the wider implications of art, by which (of course) we mean the market. While excluding the fairs and the auctions might sound like losing half the battle from the start, it has an unashamedly populist outlook for its content that perhaps precludes in-depth market coverage.

    They are aiming high, mainly because the publishers have a history of putting out consumer, teen and women’s mags. But before you all reel in horror at the thought of artists’ pin-ups and diet recipes, this inclusive model for a magazine might well work – after all, Conde Nast’s stop-start attempts to launch a truly mainstream art magazine have never come to fruition and there’s your gap in the newsstand racks.

    I’m biased because I know some of the people involved here in London and I wish them well. If they are missing a trick by not covering more market-related matters (something my role as art critic similarly leaves little room for), then can anyone think of a magazine or resource that does everything – from profiles and criticism down to market analysis and news – or in other words, has the whole art world under one roof?

  2. They seem to enjoy full face images on their covers, reminiscent of Art News during its “People Magazine” phase of the late 1980s. But to their credit, ART WORLD sticks with art rather than celebrity photography. The cover of Issue 3 (February-March 2008), given me by that (same?) smiling woman at the Armory Show, is a self portrait by Michael Craig-Martin, also graced within by a six page spread. The cover of the previous issue was a full face, b/w photo montage by John Stezaker.

    The front of the book is unremarkable, the usual snippets from the usual places that have already been given more than adequate coverage elsewhere. The Anglophilic feature section — Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread, Peter Doig — does not particularly excite. But the long middle, devoted to mercifully short interviews of well known but “emerging” artists — Peter Coffin, Nathalie Djurberg, Jason Martin, Dana Schutz, Cory Arcangel — proves that ART WORLD has its ears to the ground. And where their ears are now, their eyes might eventually follow. The texts are slanted towards a general readership, and as such are remarkably free of academic gibberish and obfuscating jargon. This, plus the very decent four color reproductions, is certainly refreshing.

    The magazine’s web presence is virtually nil. Their one page site is essentially a couple of links for advertising or subscription to the print edition. They need to develop content and features for their online component.

    So, all in all, not October, but also not News of the World.

  3. This reminds me of a comment Margaret Thatcher made in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference in 1989. She was at perhaps the height of her popularity among conservatives in Britain and the nadir of her popularity among, well, the rest of us living there at the time. She was blasted daily by the media, as well, especially with regard to economic disparity in the UK.

    From her speech:

    Yes, there are still serious problems to tackle—and I’ll come to them in a moment.

    But let us set them against the massive achievements of our period in office.

    — industry: modernised at a pace unrivalled in the post-war years:

    — productivity in manufacturing: gains far exceeding those in Europe and North America

    — profits: the best for twenty years leading to investment at record levels

    — jobs: more people in work in Britain than ever before

    — living standards: higher than we have ever known

    — reducing the national debt: not piling it up for our children to repay

    — privatisation: five industries that together were losing over £2 million a week in the public sector, now making profits of over £100 million a week in the private sector

    That is the measure of our achievements.

    But if you really want to see how the economy is doing, look at the newspapers.

    No, I didn’t say read them.

    Just count the ones that didn’t exist before 1979—and weigh the ones that did. [emphasis mine]

    I can’t help but associate a new glossy art magazine with strength in the market, suggesting their very existence may be the only statement about the market they feel they need to make.

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