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Art Monthly

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British art magazine founded in 1976 by Peter Townsend (1919–2006), formerly editor of Studio International, and the American collector Jack Wendler, who had previously run a small London gallery dedicated to Conceptual art. Although they were credited as co-editors, in practice Townsend provided the publishing expertise and also frequently the trenchant editorials, and Wendler the financial backing. It was initially printed on cheap paper with few illustrations, looking from the outside more like a political and literary journal, such as the New Statesman, than an art magazine. It became associated with highly politicized debates about contemporary art. Townsend's radical past (he had been a supporter of the Chinese revolution and met Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai) may have had something to do with this, but it also reflected a strong current, especially among the young, on the London art scene. An important early contributor was Peter Fuller, who conducted aggressive interviews with leading contemporary artists including Anthony Caro and Jasper Johns, as well as the art dealer Leslie Waddington, identified by art world radicals in the late 1970s as the epitome of what they opposed (September/October 1977). Looking at the interview years later, what impresses is Waddington's frankness and honesty in the face of Fuller's hostility. Townsend was dismissed as editor in 1992 after also having founded and edited an Australian version. The magazine is still published today and has long survived its glossy and expensive rival Studio International. It has organized events including public interviews with Hans Haacke and Gustav Metzger in collaboration with Tate.

Further Reading

A. Brighton ‘Peter Townsend’ (obituary), The Independent (4 July 2006) Website of Art Monthly, contemporary art magazine.

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