Artforum, when I picked it up in a bookstore the other day, immediately reminded me of a heavy Vogue issue. Both were thick with ads, and thankfully intelligent ones at that. Just as Vogue contains cutting edge photographs of high-end labels, exactly what people buy the magazine for, Artforum is full of attractive glossy spreads of gallery openings and artist’s work. Both blend the edge between content and advertising, and add a depth to the zines (at least in inches).
Artforum, ARTnews, and Art in America dominate the shelves, but in between them, even in chain bookstores (at least in New York city), you see the smaller volumes that exude individuality. The lesser-known art magazines are often the efforts of small groups of people who don’t have the same responsibility to cover the big stories. They can choose their content. Appearing sporadically and with varying production levels, often disappearing after a dozen issues, these are the art lover’s magazines, if only because they are clearly a labor of love by those that produce them.
The publishers who are able to sell a few copies express their individuality and ideology down to the typeface, and the design of the magazines is where the fun begins. They may not have Gagosian ads, but they do have vertical type and matte collages that beg to be ripped out and put on your wall. Their innovative design and unpredictable content are an adventure compared to the heavyweights. Truthfully, I’m envious! What a project–it tempts me to design an Art Ravels magazine, if only so I could lay out the pages.
Yet as much as I love browsing through the more off-beat art magazines when I see them, I always deliberate over whether they’re really worth the $10. On the other hand, I don’t buy ARTnews either. But were I to throw my $10 in the art publishing ring, I know which one I’d choose.