PRINT May 1980

Editorial Comment

ARTFORUM’S PRIMARY CARE IS to find, encourage and publish art criticism that engages in the kind of analysis necessary for the intellectual future of advanced art. The specific circumstances surrounding each piece of writing are always different and should always be determined by the writer’s sound judgment regarding research, reference and source.

The evolving history of photography includes enough incidents to reinforce the necessity for a serious consideration, even reconsideration, of the complex properties of the medium. The range of opinions regarding the distinctions between the negative, the image, the unique print, the edition, the publicity print and, finally, the printed page grow more inexhaustible each day. As our understanding of the complexity of photography evolves, so must the set of operational rules which can fairly and functionally accommodate its multiplicity so that, for instance, pictures are not cropped at the whim of others or pirated from books and magazines. Because of Artforum’s sensitivity to and respect for the photographer’s rights it is our policy to illustrate photography only upon receipt of appropriate permission.

There are no illustrations of work by Diane Arbus or Lisette Model to accompany the following analysis by Shelley Rice because permission would be granted only on the condition that the article be read before a permission decision could be reached.

Artforum is not willing to accommodate compromising stipulations—hence no illustrations to this article. If we are to serve our readers truthfully, under no circumstances can it be Artforum’s policy to allow required permissions to be dependent upon “acceptability” of an article’s content. Critical writing is not subject to interview, nor does it require collaboration; were it necessary to consult the artist or the artist’s estate about a critical opinion there would be no history of art, no doctorates. A critic’s opinion must be allowed its independence; this is not a privilege, this is a right.

Finally, the irony in all of this is that the pictures’ presence would have allowed the readers to more easily agree or disagree with the critic. That is one of the democratic beauties of the reproductive nature of photography.

The Editor