A critical history of the international art journal Artforum
The American-based international art journal Artforum has proved one of the most prominent and influential of art history's discursive agencies, playing a critical role in framing, probing, and re-working particular beliefs of art practice, art history, and art criticism broadly conceived of as 'Modernist' and 'post-Modernist.' This thesis investigates the development of Artforum's critical and historical writing on 'Modernist,' 'post-Modernist,' and feminist issues. It takes Artforum, from 1962 to 1993, as its 'archive' and undertakes a critical history of the journal's personnel, policies, and textual discourse, as well as its look and design. The first chapter, "The Language of Another Generation," focuses upon the 'old' Artforum, a concept of the magazine which attempts to articulate a retrospective perception of its critical power from the mid -1960s to the mid' 70s. Specifically, it challenges a conception of the magazine which portrays it as a mouthpiece for Clement Greenberg's theories of Modernist artistic and critical practices. In attempting to elucidate this misconception of the journal, the chapter makes use of some of Michel Foucault's suggestions for a historical analysis that focuses on the ruptures, rather than the continuities of Lhe object of study. To this end, the chapter identifies factors which contributed to the construction of the idea of Artforum as a Greenberg-influenced journal and then locates a discourse working against that idea, a discourse that disrupts Greenbergian Modernism. Chapter 2, "Shameless Hussies," centres on Artforum's November 1974 and November 1980 issues and questions the journal's gendered biases toward the human figure in art. It considers the magazine's attempt to wrest from body and performance artists Lynda Bengiis, Lisa Lyon, and Carolee Schneemarln their artistic authority, and documents its struggle to maintain the producer/product, subject/object distinctions that these artists had blurred through their practices. Indeed, the chapter propounds that Artforum's resistance to images of the female figure waxed when the body represented belonged to the artist herself and, in view of the evidence presented by the November 1980 issue, waned when artist and body were either distinct identies or male. The chapter concludes with an analysis of whether or not the journal succeded in nullifying the artists' political power by preventing their bodies' final collapse into ambiguous representation. Chapter 3, "Autocritique," looks at Artforum's relationship to certain concepts of post-Modernism through its notable recourses to a self-referential criticality. It discusses examples of the journal's self-reflexivity under the editorships of John Coplans, Ingrid Sischy, and current editor Jack Bankowsky and proposes that the magazine oscillates between working with and exhibiting a Greenbergian notion of Modernist self-criticism on the one hand, and an idea of a post-Modernist deconstructive impulse on the other.