A welcome note to the “new issue” of artcritical is an exercise in drastic understatement this month, as the welcome is to a new look magazine. The design overhaul of artcritical has been, indeed continues to be, an exciting and protracted endeavor. We consider ourselves, in fact, to be still in our “beta” version. We relaunched last month without fanfare, with the intention of spending the quiet summer months nipping gremlins in the bud and finalizing some of the more elusive aspects of our migration of old articles and media to the new format. Fun and flashy relaunch events are planned for the Fall.
artcritical began its life as a personal website for founder editor and publisher David Cohen. Initially it was to have served simply as a window on the world of a writer and curator with feet and fingers firmly planted in terrestrial outlets – printed publications, solid walls. From the get go, however, Cohen satisfied through these web pages a long-cherished ambition to publish an art magazine, and sought to utilize the immediacy of the web to pursue a different kind of art publishing – avant la lettre, a “blog.”
artcritical then grew, almost accidentally, into a fully fledged ‘zine. When Cohen became gallery director at the New York Studio School in 2001 he worried that he would lose his previous identity as a critic, so he published responses to current shows in these pages. His fears were unfounded as in 2003 he was named art critic for the New York Sun. Generously, his employers permitted him to post his own articles, in fully illustrated versions, at artcritical, and this drove new traffic to the site from readers geographically or ideologically unable to pick up the printed edition of the Sun. This also attracted new writers to join Cohen as contributors in these pages. In 2004, with a partial redesign of the site to its long distinct (if to some barely legible!) gold script on maroon ground, the magazine appointed its first contributing editors: Joe Fyfe, Deven Golden and Maureen Mullarkey. Eric Gelber served for many years as associate editor of the magazine before moving out of New York City, and Laurie Frick came on board as associate publisher.
The new artcritical is more than a fresh look, as will become immediately apparent as visitors start to engage with the revised interface. The most significant restructuring has to do with compartmentalizing our content into categories and subcategories that allow the visitor to see at a glance the depth of a decade of archives, as well as to plan the mood of reading matarials as they choose between reviews of shows or books, say, or features such as studio visits and longer essays, or fun things (in development) like quizzes and recipes.
The new technology used here (it is a customized, WordPress content management system, in contrast to the static pages of yore) generates intuitive further reading hints once you’ve found an article that interests you. It also makes browsing and searching an entirely more rewarding and effective experience, and does better justice to the contribution of authors. But we’re starting to brag – the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so, enough already with this wordy menu. Enjoy!