PRINT September 1993

ARTFORUM ’62–’79

Ars Longa, Pecunia Brevis

ARTFORUM WAS INTENDED to fill a need for public exchange among West Coast artists. We hoped to address the continuing suspicion and mistrust between artists and those who, in one way or another, support them. I was working for a printer and had an opportunity to establish a publication that might discuss both the creation and commerce of art: hence the magazine and the name Artforum. It was quickly accepted. In the beginning readers even seemed to overlook its shortcomings in order to get the exchange they needed.

At first, there was a staff of one. I wangled articles from wherever I could, gathered criticism from those who would have seen the shows anyway, did the necessary mailing and clerical work, pasted the magazine together, whatever was required. Then, after a few issues, Phil Leider (who had more to do with the growing quality of Artforum than anybody) came to work full time as managing editor, and we hired a production manager.

Money was short, so, as long as I remained there, the staff remained small. There were, maybe, three or four full-time employees and we continued to scrounge for criticism and articles. Everyone worked hard, did whatever needed to be done, and had fun doing it.

My contribution was neither as a critic, nor as a collector, nor as an editor, nor as a salesman. Rather, I think, I was able to function well enough in all those worlds to urge different sorts of individuals to work together.

John Irwin was the publisher of Artforum from 1962 to 1965.