Rebecca Stones

Journal : frieze, published in London by Durian Publications Ltd. eight times a year.

Frieze magazine is instantly recognisable as one of the larger and more colourful art publications.  The front cover of the October issue is typical of frieze as it mentions five of the main articles of the publication and the image is a detail from one of the artists featured in a main article.

The publications main areas of interest are in contemporary art and culture and it aims to highlight new currents in art practice by profiling emerging artists as well as offering a fresh perspective on more established artists.  The publication is very conscious of the globalised art world and ideas and interests are transnational. This publication is able to offer a commentary on the contemporary art world without being overly political or social.  Contributions to frieze are made by today’s most forward thinking writers, artists and curators and are written with a performative and punchy style. 

After studying and comparing the format of previous frieze publications, which are consistent from issue to issue, I have recognised that the magazine is divided into three sections.  There are two contents pages the second of which details the articles from the front and back of the magazine.  The front section includes more generalised information and covers short articles on the state of art, architecture, television and reviews on films, books, music and events.  These topics occur consistently in every issue although they may alter in order slightly and this section always features an article by Robert Storr titled View From The Bridge.  The back section is made up of short exhibition reviews from a variety of public and independent galleries from primarily the UK and USA but also other countries.  In addition to the articles and essays the publication is divided up by extensive advertising on exhibitions, galleries and art fairs which suggests that the magazine is designed to sell a lot of copies and reach a wide audience.

The first contents page details the middle section of the magazine.  This is unusual and enhances the importance of the articles from this section.  Typically there would be between six and eleven in depth essays written on a variety of topics by guest writers.  Regular writers for this publication include Brian Dillon, Robert Storr, Jorg Heiser, Polly Staple, Sally O”Reilly, Dominic Eichler and Melissa Gronlund.  Generally the articles begin with an introductory paragraph in larger font that acts as an appetiser to attract the reader.  Quotes are taken from the article and enlarged to also entice the reader and give the reader a summery of the articles’ content.  The publication makes use of bold and italic text to highlight the artists’ and authors’ names.  Most writers use footnotes and each article has its own individual format as there is no style sheet for this publication.  Each article uses detailed images of varying sizes usually one of which covers an entire page and the article ranges from between four and ten pages long with an average word count of 1500 words.

I propose to write an article for the middle section of the magazine as I plan to profile Gilbert and George who have recently had a retrospective at the Tate Modern and reached a high point in their career by being the only living artists to have ever exhibited on the whole of the fourth floor.  Frieze are known not only for profiles on emerging artists but also for overviews on better known artists’ who are at a determining point in their career which is why I feel my article is well suited to this publication.  I feel that the performative element of Gilbert and George’s work is reminiscent of the performative language that frieze magazine are associated with and that the topic would appeal to the target audience as the magazine is advertised on the website as essential reading for anyone who is interested in contemporary visual culture.

The articles in the middle section of the magazine are written in an intellectual and scholarly way but in a way that does not presume prior knowledge of contemporary art.  As the publication is read by a wide audience the articles are written in an informative way offering an educational, theoretical and sometimes political insight into different topics associated with contemporary art and culture.  The style of writing is often very performative and the style and structure of each article often reflects the artist’s work that is being discussed.  For example in the October 2007 issue Dominic Eicher’s article Free Style analyses the diversity of media and styles in the work of Padraig Timoney’s work.  The style of the article reflects the unresolved style of the artist’s work.  Eichler moves from discussing one piece of Timoney’s work to the next without resolving it.  Similarly in the October 2007 issue and article Another Fine Mess by Brian Dillon the style of writing reflects the content of slapstick comedy and is arranged like a series of short sketches.  Dillon uses assimilation of what the viewer knows and believes to aid understanding and uses a low level of language, for example, word like “stuff” and “thing” which also reflect slapstick comedy.

‘A visit to the countryside in the south of France led to the landscape Introvertive Anhedonia (2006), painted from memory with a palette knife is the ‘Montmartre’ style, which has pigmented plaster casts of piles of sale tags attached to it and which winks at Paul Cezanne.’is a sentence I would consider typical of frieze.  This quote taken from Dominic Eichler’s article Free Style is a good example of the performative and descriptive style used by many of the frieze writers who write with personality.  The writers often convey their views with very few words through a combination of interesting verbs and jovial adjectives.  An example of this is ‘The closest thing to an analogy for Timoney’s visual language is probably something like cut up poetry.’

Many of the writers often apply and analyse the artists’ work with reference to issues occurring in modern society.  In the next quote Eichler raises issues about how art work is being assessed and the education system.  ‘Timmoney ignores the unwritten rule of commitment to a genre or method, or at least an underlying theme, as a sign of serious investment in one’s work – something that at its lowest common denominator gets expressed as the demand for a recognizable signature style (whether from the market or an uninspired art education).’



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