Yesterday was a good day for art journalism. Lindsay Pollock was named editor of the Art in America, opening the way for the rejuvenation of one of our most venerable magazine brands. Like that other old workhorse of the art journalism trade, ArtNews, the 98 year-old Art in America has lost its way of late, as the worlds of art and journalism transmogrified around it.
I’ve been lucky to follow Lindsay Pollock’s career since when she was working on her biography of the art dealer Edith Gregor Halpert, which later appeared as a book titled The Girl With the Gallery. She has since evolved into an art reporting powerhouse, known to readers through her precise market coverage at Bloomberg and The Art Newspaper, and more recently, at her website, Art Market Views, an increasingly vital source of breaking art-world news. She is fair, informed, a happy peripatetic denizen of the global art scene, but also tough as nails. Her commitment is to a broader dialogue than straight art news. She has a deeper interest in art than what happens at the nexus of pictures and money.
So what now with Art in America? It clearly needs an energy boost. Its detached, ivory-tower approach, where long reviews dutifully appear long after exhibitions have closed, seems like a quaint anachronism. The magazine has a reputation for pulling its punches. Its cautious academism is out of synch with a culture where opinions are supersized. What new leadership can bring to the magazine above all, I think, is a fruitful demolition of the walls that divide scholarly and aesthetic writing, on the one hand, and thoughtful journalistic appraisals of the “dark side” of art as an institutional and – gasp – commercial system.
No one’s better suited to open up those fertile pathways than Lindsay, who sees the life of art as an all-encompassing totality that spans from the artist studio to the scholarly study to the champagne and canapé-besotted halls of Art Basel.
The greatest mistake would be to dilute Art in America’s authority by bloggifying it –though no doubt Lindsay’s digital bona fines will come in handy. We need a magazine of record that sits somewhere between Art News and Artforum. Neither insidery nor too distanced. Neither a sanctum of PhD graduates in art history nor a hive of ink stained journos who cover arts like any other news beat. My hope is for a magazine where the world of art is presented just as the exciting hybrid world that it is, where the best of our cultural legacy intermixes with the most current and occasionally the most mundane, but always the most fascinating, personalities and institutions of contemporary life.
What do you think would be the best for Art in America now?