Artforum Volume 1, number 1 was published in June of 1962. The first-ever issue of Artforum is described by its editors as “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.” More recent editions of Artforum make no such claim, despite having an increasingly diverse editorial staff and artist subjects (the first edition of Artforum is made up entirely of white American men discussing other white American men) and thus have increased their scope of art-world inquiry vastly. This first issue features an essay by Sidney Geist on the subject of criticism (“criticism, in a large sense, is as human a need as art”); several short reviews of art shows; an essay by Lester D. Longman on “Conformity in the Arts” (“The menace of conformism to freedom of thought and action and to the value of the individual is perhaps the most critical problem of this century”); a feature on the paintings of Mark Tobey and more. What sets the first Art Forum apart from later issues in particular is the use of two sheets of uncoated paper to demarcate the “forum” section of the publication. Gwen Allen of Art Practical writes of the early days of Artforum: “The magazine’s founders strove to materially embody the term forum, with its connotation of lively public debate and commercial exchange, since the ancient Roman forum that inspired the magazine’s name was first and foremost a marketplace.” Many would argue that in its later issues Artforum came to embrace the “commercial exchange” aspect far more intently than the “lively public debate” aspect of the word forum, but the magazine’s intention to foster and drive conversation and criticism of the art world has nevertheless certainly not been extinguished. The SVA Library’s Periodicals Collection contains an almost uninterupted run from this first issue to the present. Come by and see for yourself how lively the "forum" is in 2017.
Dec 11 2017