ARTFORUM ’62–’79

No Phil, No Forum

IF JOHN IRWIN, the absolute founder of Artforum (he dreamed of a sort of Hugh Hefner fantasy applied to an art world he perceived both insightfully and imperfectly), set the physical style of the magazine (its unusual squarish format and a lush and colored layout), and John Coplans was the driving engine from the inception, by the fifth issue Phil Leider was the magazine’s mind, conscience, and soul. The equation is simple: no Phil Leider, no Artforum—at least of any substance.

Coplans’ willful energy at the beginning of Artforum was enormous, at times near sociopathic. His greatest contribution was discovering Phil Leider. The story was that while visiting the John Bolles Gallery in San Francisco in the fall of ’62, looking for something to review, Coplans heard fantastically rapid typing from the gallery office. Since Artforum was at the time little more than table, chair, typewriter,

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