Avant-Garde Art Magazines from the 1960s and 1970s

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This week, Open Culture reported that all 16 issues of Avant Garde magazine, published between 1968 and 1971 by editor Ralph Ginzburg and art director Herb Lubalin, is now available digitally. Artworks featured in Avant Garde include John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s erotic lithographs (issue 11) and the last photos taken of Marilyn Monroe by Bern Stern (issue 2), captured six weeks before she died.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of forward-thinking publications that functioned to document growing conceptual art practices, the evolution of the gallery, as well as acting as an alternative exhibition space, and illustrating how a magazine could become a work of art in its own right.

Here are several prominent, revolutionary art magazines from the time period.

Audio Arts

British sculptor William Furlong and gallerist Barry Barker started publishing Audio Arts in 1973 as a sound magazine, distributed through the mail via audio cassettes. Their subscriber list included the Tate, which acquired Audio Arts’ master tapes. Information is featured in an index of all 24 volumes on the Tate website.

Aspen

Aspen, a multimedia magazine published by Phyllis Johnson between 1965 and 1971, featured estimable contributors like Andy Warhol, John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono, William S. Burroughs, Lou Reed, and more. The subscription included surprise contents, like flexi discs, postcards, Super-8 films, and chapbooks.

Avalanche

New York-based Avalanche Magazine, published between 1970 and 1976 (13 issues) by Willoughby Sharp and Liza Béar, contained “mock-ups and page proofs, audio files, installation photographs, correspondence, edited interview typescripts, exhibition announcements, ephemera, subscriber mailing lists, and invoices present a holistic picture of the magazine’s production, while bringing into view the surrounding artistic milieu from which the magazine emerged.” From MoMA’s Avalanche archive:

Avalanche presented the work of dozens of up-and-coming artists, often before they had solo exhibitions in physical galleries and museums. The pages of Avalanche served, in essence, as a two-dimensional exhibition space. Béar and Sharp introduced their readers to artists like Walter De Maria, George Trakas, Lowell Darling, Jannis Kounellis, Chris Burden, Barbara Dilley, Franz Erhard Walther, Vito Acconci, William Wegman, Jack Smith, Laurie Anderson, Rita Myers, and Meredith Monk. It is also worth noting that Avalanche intentionally featured a large number of women sculptors and performance artists, especially in the later issues. Notable women artists found in the pages of Avalanche include: Joan Jonas, Alice Aycock, Trisha Brown, Colleen Fitzgibbon, and Hanne Darboven.

Browse another Avalanche archive over here.

REAL LIFE Magazine

Writer Susan Morgan and artist, writer, and curator Thomas Lawson published 23 issues of REAL LIFE Magazine between 1979 and 1994. The New York-based black-and-white publication featured artists and art historians, pop culture commentary, politics (particularly feminist issues), and more. Artists featured included Félix González-Torres, Mike Kelley, and Louise Lawler. Lawson’s website contains an archive detailing the covers and contents.

Art-Rite

Art-Rite, a New York-based newsprint art mag published between 1973 and 1978, was edited by Mike (Walter) Robinson, Edit DeAk, and Joshua Cohn (who left in the early days of the publication). The collaborators met in an art criticism class taught by Brian O’Doherty at Barnard College in New York and emphasized collaboration by publishing writings anonymously. Memorable cover artists included Alan Suicide, Christo, Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, and Ed Ruscha.

0 to 9

From Ugly Duckling Presse:

From 1967 to 1969, Vito Acconci & Bernadette Mayer collected the works of the some of the most exciting artists and writers for their mimeographed magazine, 0 TO 9. Robert Barry, Ted Berrigan, Clark Coolidge, John Giorno, Dan Graham, Michael Heizer, Kenneth Koch, Sol LeWitt, Jackson Mac Low, Harry Mathews, Adrian Piper, Bern Porter, Yvonne Rainer, Jerome Rothenberg, Aram Saroyan, Robert Smithson, Alan Sondheim, Hannah Weiner, and Emmett Williams, among others, were contributors.

Interfunktionen

From the book Behind the facts: Interfunktionen 1968-1975:

Interfunktionen, an art journal which published 12 issues between 1968 and 1975 in Cologne, was founded in 1968 as a form of protest by artists who had no affinity with the critical lines that were redrawn at Documenta that year. The review was of considerable importance as a vehicle for propagating pro-European ideas and as a union between artists in Europe and the United States, irrespective of the predominating movements of the time. It contained both theoretical and practical contributions, with the intervention of creators who defined and illustrated their artistic strategies. Directly linked to the most prominent figures in the Dusseldorf Kunstacademie, such as Joseph Beuys, Jorg Immendorf and Sigmar Polke, it also boasted the involvement of the most spirited and reflexive artists of the times, from Vito Acconci and Marcel Broodthaers to Bruce Nauman and Dieter Roth. Interfunktionen, as its name indicates, was an inter-disciplinary publication, open to all artistic genres and with no restrictions as to media.

FILE Magazine

Conceived as a “parasite within the world of magazine distribution” and a “transcanda art organ produced by artists for artists,” FILE‘s subversive appropriation of the LIFE Magazine logo and name eventually caught the attention of the Time/Life Corporation corproration, which sued them. FILE parodied advertising, documented mail art, and became a platform for Canadian art collective General Idea (Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson). From Corner House Publications: “The early issues’ manifestos, lists of addresses, and letters from friends, were rapidly replaced by General Idea’s scripts and projects as well as cultural issues (as in the famous Glamour or Punk issues), while never loosing a cutting-edge attention to emerging practices on the art scene and experimental layouts.”