We should be having a party in the real world, but that’s not happening -- it’s strictly a cyberspace celebration. Fifteen years ago this month, Artnet rolled out its several functions -- including the price database, an online gallery district and Artnet Magazine -- onto the World Wide Web.
The company had been founded several years earlier by the German art dealer Hans Neuendorf, who had a vision of a computerized, illustrated database of art-auction prices. At first, the service was available by subscription via a telephone modem (remember those?). But now, at the dawn of the internet age, Artnet.com was to go public in a much bigger way.
In those early days, "we’re just starting out" was one of my favorite excuses, and it was good for the first couple of years, at least. But looking back now on the texts that we posted -- and that is what we’ve done here, put up-to-date titles, blurbs and links to some of our earliest articles -- they need no special pleading. Quite to the contrary, I happily publish them again today, because of the commentary itself as well as the authors who wrote it. †
The original design? Well, that may be a little hinky. What’s with the typewriter type and the double-spacing? Don’t ask, because I couldn’t tell you. And those jpgs, why so small? And what’s with the wacky links? If I could fix it, believe me, I would.
Special thanks to the authors and subjects of the articles reposted here (though they’ve always been available deep in the archives):
* Lee Rosenbaum, whose "Visual Reality" column cast a skeptical and informed eye on the doings of the official art-museum world (an endeavor that carries on today, of course, in her CultureGrrl blog, easily the most professional of all the art blogs).
* "To Market, to Market," written by Judd Tully, art-market chronicler now as then, when you could buy a 1980 Cindy Sherman photo for less than $20,000.
* Eleanor Heartney, the critic and author, whose "Out of the Ivory Tower: Social Responsibility and the Art Critic," is a consideration of the culture wars that is more than relevant today.
* John Good, now a director at Gagosian Gallery, who put on his art critic’s cap to review a show by a young artist named Nari Ward at a new space, dubbed Deitch Projects, just opened by a former Citibank art advisory employee.
* Finally, I take the liberty of including my first essay for the magazine, a profile of the artist James Romberger, whose collaboration with David Wojnarowicz on the beautiful and piercing graphic novel Seven Miles a Second (1996) is, again, still relevant today. "Show me smashing Fifth Avenue," David told James, and that’s exactly what he did.
* Plenty of writers contributed in those early years, in addition to the handful of texts newly linked on the magazine’s front page for the weekend of Mar. 18-20, 2011. They include Robert Goldman, also known as Bobby G, who wrote an "Artist’s Diary," and Gallery Beat TV director Paul H-O, who reviewed Robert Graham, among others (we have a soft spot for artists who write on art).
We had a lot of artist-writers, in fact, as well as some writers who have turned into curators. They include Michael Brennan, Mia Fineman, Robert Mahoney, John Mendelsohn, Cat Morris, John Zinsser and plenty more.
We were global, with reports from major art capitals, including a "Letter from Spain" by Kim Bradley, a "Letter from L.A." by Jane Hart; a "Chicago Report" by Victor M. Cassidy, a "Letter from Prague" by Tim Gilman-Sevcik, and a "Berlin Art Diary" by Mary E. Goldman.
Thanks again to you all.
WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.