01. A Letter from the Editor

Despite my efforts to the contrary, curating each edition of ARTWRIT happens in retrospect. When all is said and done, I look over the work that’s about to be published and suddenly realize that though every member of this team works separately in their corner of the world, our interests are finely tuned into the zeitgeist. This is our real work; to connect with and answer to a culture that changes before we can fully grasp it. We try to ask — and maybe answer — some questions before the culture we were beginning to know is virtually unrecognizable again.

Volume III is marked by a strong sense of history and ‘legacy:’ Oksana Katchaluba’s piece on the discovery of the Ambroise Vollard safe draws attention to a near-forgotten figure of modernism. A review of Irving Penn’s portraits touches on his pioneering photographic technique and indiscriminate melding of the fashion and high-art worlds; both reverences attempt to locate his historical importance and consequence. Also in from London, a review of Sally Mann’s photos exposes her antiquarian methods for shooting and developing, as well as shedding light on the art-historical stylistic references that have always characterized her work. Tyler Considine’s excerpted essay on Gay Minimalism is an extended meditation on a past movement’s contemporary relevance, adaptability and permutation over time. Even Ana Finel Honigman’s piece on Kate Moss is, sensibly, an update of the far-reaching history of the artist’s muse.

The edition is also marked by a strong interest in the photographic image, one that the aforementioned reviews of Penn and Mann answer to. An interview — the only one in this edition — with San Francisco-based photographer Peter Dobey, satisfies both dominant trends; photography and a historical slant. As influences, he cites Manet, Memling, Caravaggio, and Goya in an ongoing list that reveals a studious regard for the past. Unexpectedly, Jody Zellen’s notes on Multi-Channel video work — the moving photographic image(s) –, measures new technology against traditional modes of art presentation to conclude that the two are more similar than meets the eye.

Though the prevailing attitude towards the past is a fond one, it is also a revisionist attitude. These writers are looking at new work and aiming to extrapolate a deeper context for it than time, place, and circumstance. In so doing, the past is invoked and applied, though its authority — specifically the preponderance of a single and totalizing art historical narrative — is met with a healthy quantity of questions for the writers of history, for the artists whose work we’re grappling with now, for the writers of these pieces and for the reader.


Daniel Kopel