The Editorial Impulse: Artists' Serial Publications


The Editorial Impulse: Artists' Serial Publications


January 9 - February 12, 2011


Paige K. Johnston


Throughout the past hundred years, artists have frequently authored contributions in the pages of magazines. Like Robert Morris and Donald Judd in the 1960s, and Liam Gillick and Paul Chan today, whether approaching writing as art itself, or by acting as critics, commentators, or documentarians, artists have never shied away from taking up the pen.

The Editorial Impulse extends beyond the scope of mainstream art magazines, offering a glimpse into the diverse and extensive history of artist-driven serial publications. In presenting this material the exhibition asks: What happens when artists take the publishing reins? How does the artist-writer or artist-editor complicate our understanding of artistic practice? Do magazines created by artists differ from magazines created by writers or critics?

The publications in The Editorial Impulse span the last fifty years, ranging from Dick Higgins influential Great Bear pamphlet series and seminal conceptual art magazine Avalanche, to WhiteWalls, the longest running series on view, and relative newcomer Gagarin. Together they present a range of strategies for the form, from the loudly satirical to the humbly academic.

By assembling both artists’ writings and writing-as-art, The Editorial Impulse invites an expanded consideration of the reach of artistic production within the space of the distributed page.



Paige K. Johnston, “The Editorial Impulse: Artists' Serial Publications,” SAIC Flaxman Library & Special Collection Exhibitions, accessed August 18, 2019,