I ❤ Artforum

3rd May 2016

So which magazines do you access online and which do you (still) read as print? TLS and London Review of Books still drop through my letterbox every week and fortnight respectively, and I find something pleasingly material about both. I can carry them around easily, I can clip from them easily and I can share articles as pieces of paper. So I’m not looking to change my subscription to either anytime soon. The New Yorker I get in its digital edition, in large part because the print one used to arrive days or even weeks after it was published across the Atlantic. Ditto New York Review of Books, and with this on my iPad I especially like the way I can toggle between a page view that replicates the print version and a text view that is easy to read.

I also subscribe on my iPad to the digital version of Sight & Sound, and while I like the convenience I am less enthusiastic about the way you have to enlarge the pages and float them across the screen to read an article. There are times when I think I should revert to the old ways, but for all its clarity now, and the quality of much of its writing, I know that what I really hanker after is the Sight & Sound of yesteryear, printed in dense black and white on heavy, shiny paper and bearing the latest news of Bergman, Godard and Antonioni.

Far and away my favourite digital subscription, however, at least as far as format is concerned, is Artforum. This heavyweight magazine of the contemporary art world is, in its physical manifestation, simply a monster. The large square format resolutely refuses to fit into a shoulder bag and the weight of all those ads for Gagosian and Chanel can make it feel as if you’re lifting a dense form of global capital. So for a time, seven or eight years back, I gave up reading it. The physical effort was simply not worth the mental reward.

Until, that is, Artforum took themselves digital and made it available as an app. There is a website too, but the version for the iPad, which costs $49.99 for 10 monthly issues across a year, is beautifully designed and a joy to navigate. The look and feel of the print original is preserved, but the convenience is enhanced a hundredfold. You get all of the oh-so-essential ad pages, but you can also move from article to article with a swipe sideways and then read each piece with swipes down. All of the illustrations can be expanded, and increasingly the publishers are experimenting with the digital format to make it more pleasing and useful.

Artforum under its current editorial team is also an excellent read, and the new May issue exemplifies its virtues. There are detailed tributes to Pierre Boulez and Jacques Rivette, plus a review of David Bordwell’s new book The Rhapsodes, previews of 45 upcoming shows around the world, a wonderfully rich suite of features about Art and Fashion Photography (parts of which can also be accessed for free on the website), an exceptional article by P. Adams Sitney on the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, and a thoughtful review of the Whitechapel Gallery’s current Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966) show. Plus much more – and all of it downloadable for the tube, a train journey or the loo.

Image: details of iPad screen shots of two pages from Artforum’s May issue.

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