Caspar David Friedrich
Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon
oil on canvas
34 x 44 cm
[Image from "Romancing the Sky", Artnet, 8-24-99, link]
Long ago, in an art world far away and online, long before blogs, before Blouinopolis, Galleristopia, and HuffingPuffingtonia.....way way long before Hyperbolicallergica, Twittersylvania, Artfagolicious or even Newsgripe, there was Artnet.....
Somehow it doesn't feel like it was that long ago. Summer of '99, I was an artist working a full-time day job in a museum, typically bored, marginalized and underpaid. One day I answered the phone at my desk and it was Walter Robinson, who I'd never met, and about whom I had heard only some scant, low-level art world gossip. He was calling to ask me to write an article for something called Artnet. It was online. (So was I). He needed someone to cover a big, multi-faceted traveling show that had just opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: "Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-garde, 1801-2001." I happened to be headed to Montreal that summer (how'd he know?). He would edit it, I would get paid. We'd do it all by email.
It was a struggle, writing my first review of a vast museum show. But after submitting my draft, for the first time I found myself occupying the weird terrain where negotiations between writers and their editors take place. It felt good. The results, "Romancing the Sky," was not too terrible, and Walter invited me to consider a new project. Soon I found myself penning a regular column, "Into Africa," for which I covered exhibitions of contemporary and tribal African or African-influenced art around town. Over the course of 18 months, I wrote nine pieces, secure in the fact that my fledgling efforts would be subjected to the stern rigor of Walter's editing.
Since then, I've had the pleasure (and the pain) of working with other editors who continue to show me, through similarly weird processes, how to write well. But it was Walter who showed me how to write with seeming ease about art, how to be accessible without dumbing-down, how to be lively without being trashy (no, really), and how to be serious without being deadly dull.
After yesterday's sad news that Artnet magazine would be ceasing activity, I visited its Wikipedia entry to see what needed updating. Someone had already posted the news and citations, so I looked at the very abbreviated list of contributors, and decided to make it inclusive. This took the better half of a morning going through Artnet's archives. It struck me that nearly everyone at some point or another has written for Artnet. There are artists like myself, unknown and well-known, art writers, some of whom were just starting out and who now helm major magazines. There are curators, dealers, former museum directors, collectors, art fair instigators, pop-up scholars, bald capitalists, paparazzi, art astrologers, tricksters, bloviators, poets, speculators, gossips, and all manner of gadfly. Every one of these individuals has a diverting Artnet origin myth to tell, I'm sure. Artnet was pre-blog. After the dawn of the blogs it amazingly kept going. It was ahead of its time, and right on time. It will be missed.
"It's a Real Kick in the Gut": Readers and Writers on the Demise of Artnet Magazine
by Julia Halperin, Benjamin Sutton, June 26, 2012
Artnet, June 26, 2012
Art in America
Artnet Magazine to Cease Publication
by Brian Boucher 06/25/12
NOTHING LASTS FOREVER
by Charlie Finch, June 25, 2012
NYMag - Vulture
Jerry Saltz on the End of Artnet.com’s Magazine
By Jerry Saltz, June 25, 2012
Artnet Magazine Will Cease Publication, Ending 16-Year Run
By Dan Duray 6/25/12
Art Fag City
Artnet Magazine Closes, But Archives Will Be Preserved
by Paddy Johnson on June 25, 2012
Artnet Chief Steps Down and Artnet Magazine is Closed
By RANDY KENNEDY, June 25, 2012
LATimes - CultureMonster
Artnet Magazine shutting down due to financial difficulties
By David Ng, June 25, 2012