PRINT September 2012


Cover of Artforum 1, no. 1 (June 1962). Shown: Jean Tinguely, L’Araignée (also known as Marokko and Krapotkin), 1961.

THOUGH IT MAY LOOK LIKE an abstract play of shadows, the image on the cover of Artforum’s 1962 debut issue is, in fact, a kinetic sculpture—a jittery, vaguely anthropomorphic contraption of springs and spare parts—by the Swiss artist-provocateur Jean Tinguely. Why would the editors of an ambitious new art magazine choose an image of crepuscular ambiguity when the occasion seemed to call for perspicuous assertion? Considering this question, art historian Pamela M. Lee proposes that ambiguity may have been the point. Tinguely’s automatons spoke to the rise of a hybrid technological media, one that had plunged modernist medium specificity into a murky impurity. Art was now irrevocably embedded in media circuits and labor regimes. Linking this postwar shift to the contemporary work of Sam Lewitt, Lee elucidates the perennial relevance of the issues—-around medium, media,

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