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Eric Banks on Lawrence Alloway’s “Network: The Art World Described as a System”

Page from Artforum 11, no. 1 (September 1972). Lawrence Alloway, “Network: The Art World Described as a System.” Shown: Detail of jigsaw puzzle of Jackson Pollock’s Convergence, 1952.

IN SEPTEMBER 1972, in what would become a decennial ritual, Artforum published an issue marking a significant birthday for the magazine, in this case its tenth anniversary. The cover selected for the issue was a simple black-and-white photo taken in the Artforum office of a vacant desk. Behind the desk, a grid comprising ten years’ worth of the magazine’s covers hung on the wall. The desk, one surmises, belonged to founding editor Philip Leider, who had just stepped down. Whether intended or not, the empty desk signified that the editorial direction of Artforum, mapped out visually in the grid of covers, was now up for grabs. The issue featured articles by key members of the editorial board—Rosalind E. Krauss, Max Kozloff, Annette Michelson, Robert Pincus-Witten, and Lawrence Alloway—but as a group their collective contributions spoke less to a reflective stocktaking of

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