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PRINT Summer 2002

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Eric Banks on Artforum, June 1962

As Artforum turns forty this month, senior editor Eric Banks looks back at the magazine’s inaugural issue, launched in San Francisco by founding editor-publisher John Irwin as a medium for the “free exchange of critical opinions.”

ARTFORUM IS AN ART MAGAZINE published in the west—but not only a magazine of western art. We are concerned first with western activity but claim the world of art as our domain.” With this declaration of manifest destiny and a blurry, mysterious, uncaptioned cover image—a shadowy Jean Tinguely thingamajig that looks like a Jurassic Park escapee in repose—Artforum came into being in June 1962 with a forty-six-page issue weighted heavily toward exhibition reviews, which bookended a feature section titled “Forum.” The design was a bit quirky—heavy-stock burnt orange dividers literally segregate the parts of the magazine—but the Pisani Printing Company’s foray into

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