'Wild Imaginings' article

Analysis of Art Review and
abstract for 'Wild Imaginings'


For the purpose of this assignment, I will focus on the magazine Art Review, offering an analysis of the publication and an article of a comparable style, preceded by an abstract.

Art Review is a widely available contemporary art magazine, established in 1949 and published monthly in London. It presents debates and reviews of contemporary art and cultural activity, in an accessible, informative manner. The magazine’s website refers to it as ‘the most innovative voice in contemporary art’, which delivers, ‘profiles, news, reviews, city guides and special commissioned art works by established and emerging artists from around the globe’ . The magazine’s varied content and focus widens its appeal to readers interested in various aspects of the contemporary art world. A high proportion of each issue is dedicated to exhibition reviews, suggesting that it is aimed at gallery goers and curators. Each issue also contains several advertisements for auction houses, artists’ editions and art insurance, indicating that it is also marketed at collectors and investors.

Art Review places itself at the forefront of contemporary art developments. It publicises many newly opened galleries and exhibitions, ensuring that it is up to date in its engagement with shifts in contemporary art. High quality colour graphics and images are in evidence throughout the magazine. Almost without exception, its glossy cover features an artist, rather than their work – a device reminiscent of celebrity and glamour magazines. It is preoccupied with the artist as celebrity, and uses front cover headlines such as ‘John Bock: The wild man of art smartens up’ and ‘Subodh Gupta – The Damien Hirst of Delhi?’ . Inside, it continues to focus on people rather than their work, and includes a regular column, written by a different artist each month. The magazine’s regard for celebrity is also apparent in its profiles of artists and collectors, and its use of an artist as an inlet into a debate (for example, posing the question ‘What does Tracy Emin mean to you?’ to fifteen contemporary artists, critics and writers) . The magazine is preoccupied with the glamour of the art world, as illustrated by its regular double page spread of photographs from the latest big art world parties. This regard for high status players within contemporary art is starkly illustrated by the claim of ‘The Power 100 Issue’ (October 2007) that ‘everyone loves lists, and lists that combine power, money and art are simply irresistible.’

A sizeable proportion of the magazine’s content comprises full page, colour advertisements for exhibitions, auction houses, art fairs (and their sponsors, such as Frieze Art Fair’s ‘official champagne’) and even private jets to art events. Typically, the reader must flick through twelve pages of advertisements before arriving at the contents page, and a further twelve before the first article. The magazine’s regard for consumerism in the arts is also evident in its regular feature, Consumed, which offers ‘the pick of this month’s offerings from shops, galleries and museums’. Items featured here have included Damien Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull, For the Love of God (2007), designer Stella Vine’s clothing range at high street clothing store Topshop, Linder’s limited edition designer skateboards and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s album cover for hip hop mogul Kanye West. In ‘The Power 100 Issue’, the chair of the Power 100 Selection Committee, Georgina Adam, provided a stark example of the magazine’s preoccupation with the power of consumerism in art; ‘art dealing is on a roll’ she wrote, ‘…dealers and auction-house specialists have become stars in this world, sometimes eclipsing the artists they sell.’

A strong regard for international arts activity pervades the magazine. Its reviews and recommendations include exhibitions in locations ranging from Dublin to Toronto, and Los Angeles to Vienna. The magazine’s more sizeable articles also consider contemporary art activity worldwide. For example, the September 2007 issue includes an article entitled ‘Tokyo! The city according to art’, which surveys ‘the venues, the hangouts, the makers, the shakers’ of the city whose art scene ‘re-forms at breakneck speed’ . Similarly, the May 2007 issue features Seoul, and explores how ‘Korea’s turbulent modern and contemporary history… has brought about a unique history of contemporary art’ . Tales from the city is a regular feature of the magazine, consisting of dispatches from cities as diverse as Liverpool, Dubai, New York and Berlin. Each issue features writers in two cities, offering their take on the local arts scene and cultural activity that they have encountered there. The magazine pays close attention to the links between contemporary art and current affairs. For example, it debates topics such as global warming in relation to the arts, and explores links between contemporary art and architecture.

Art Review is closely engaged with technological advances in the arts. Its regular feature Dot Com offers ‘a monthly look at the best of the net’. In addition, it reviews arts-related activity online, such as artists’ websites, podcasts, and those working with website s such asYou Tubeor the online, 3D virtual community, Second Life. The Art Review website fosters an artists’ virtual community, allowing members to write blogs and message each other as well as the magazine editors. It also allows users to download the latest issue of the magazine.

Overall, the magazine employs an appealing graphical style, combining headlines in large font, with comfortably spaced text. High quality colour images feature throughout, and its glossy cover uses a larger font for the issue’s main topic than for the magazine’s title. The magazine’s contributors include writers, film critics and practising artists. These vary monthly, ensuring that the magazine maintains a fresh voice. Each issue offers an informal, page long introduction to the contributors, with colour photographs. Towards the back of the magazine, its style and content become increasingly informal, as it presents features such as book reviews, comic strips, and amusing arts-related quotes. It offers an enquiring perspective on international contemporary arts, and the people behind it.

In keeping with Art Review’s interest in international activity, my article will focus on themes of cross cultural exchange and migration found in the recent exhibition Imagine Art After at Tate Britain. The exhibition came about as a result of online dialogues between pairs of artists, hosted by Guardian Unlimited. The artists involved are originally from some of the countries that statistically made the most applications for asylum to Britain in 2006 . Of each pair, one artist had stayed in their country of origin, and one had moved to Britain to live and work. Following this, proposals from artists inspired by the online dialogues were invited. It is the successful proposals of six artists that comprise the exhibition ‘Imagine Art After’. My article will consist of an overview of the exhibition, coupled with an interview with its curator, Breda Beban, who I arranged to meet for the purpose of this work. Such a structure is typical of the magazine’s ‘Feature’ section, which combines a review or summary of an exhibition, with an interest in the people behind it. Taking note of Art Review’s preoccupation with influential people in the arts, the article will focus on Beban as personality or celebrity. Its focus on contemporary artists from across the globe will be appropriate for Art Review’sinterest in art on an international scale.


My article will take the form of a short overview of the exhibition, and an interview with its curator, Breda Beban. In line with the international perspective found in Art Review, the article will consider the notion of art as cross-cultural exchange, and will question whether the art world should aspire to existing without borders.

The article will entice the reader with two sentences that focus on Beban herself, portraying her as someone who the art world has a keen interest in, and promising an ‘exclusive interview’. Prior to the interview, a description of the exhibition will help the reader to place Beban, which will enhance their understanding and interest in the interview. After identifying the exhibition’s themes of immigration as topical, the article will acknowledge that it was much less visible and publicised than other exhibitions it was alongside, thus contextualising it within Tate Britain’s programme, and identifying it as dealing with an often marginalised group of artists. After describing the unusual decision by Beban to spread the works over several floors of Tate Britain, the article will focus on each artist individually. A description of each artist’s work, accompanied by brief reflections on it, will help the reader to form a picture of the exhibition, but will not seek to offer in-depth criticism. In summary, the fact that the show is easily unnoticed by visitors will be reiterated. It will be acknowledged that the artists featured in Imagine Art After have been involved in a search for their place within the country, within the Western art museum and within today’s immigration debate. Before the interview, the description of the article will conclude by promising gallery goers an enticing exhibition, if they are prepared to search for it.

In keeping with Art Review’s interest in influential art world personalities, focus will turn to the exhibition’s curator, Breda Beban. The interview will explore Beban’s curatorial decisions, the practicalities of facilitating the project, and how it has affected her own practise. Beban will be asked to contextualise Imagine Art After in relation to other contemporary arts projects dealing with cross-cultural exchange. Future plans for the project will be discussed, and it its contribution to today’s immigration debate will be questioned.

Art Review website,, accessed 18  January 2008.

Art Review,  issue 11, May 2007, front cover.

Art Review, issue 15, September 2007, front cover.

Art Review, issue 12, June 2007, page 110.

Georgina Adam, in issue 16, November 2007, page 98.

Georgina Adam, ibid.

Chiaki Sakaguchi, ‘Tokyo! The city according to art’, p.84 in Art Review, issue 14, September 2007.

Yun Nanjie, ‘Seoul, the city according to art’, p.96 in Art Review, issue 10, May 2007.

You Tube website,, accessed 23 January 2008.

Second Life website,, accessed 21 January 2008.

Statistics quoted by the Home Office website, accessed 1 February 2008.