‘Artforum’ Has Been Acquired by Penske Media in a Major Shakeup for the Art-Publishing Industry
All three major art print magazines now share a single owner.
In a big shift for the art-media landscape, Penske Media Corporation has purchased Artforum. The transaction brings the art world’s three leading print magazines under a single umbrella. (The company previously bought Art in America and ARTnews in 2018.)
“Artforum’s quality and authority in the art world is unparalleled,” Jay Penske, the company’s chairman and CEO, told ARTnews. “Over the last 60 years, they have built a culture- and genre-defining brand known around the world, with one of the few insightful global perspectives on art.”
Since its founding in 1962, Artforum has been a leading voice of art criticism. (ARTnews published its first issue in 1902; AiA in 1913.) It has printed the words of generations of prominent curators and thinkers, including the late Arthur Danto, Yve-Alain Bois, Hilton Als, Katy Siegel, and Hannah Black.
Recently, Artforum was instrumental in the successful movement to oust the Sackler family from positions of prestige at international cultural institutions. It published a 2018 essay by the photographer Nan Goldin asking the art world to protest the family and marking the founding of her activist organization Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (P.A.I.N.).
The magazine is perhaps equally known for its shiny advertisements, which present the wares of leading art galleries as luxury goods akin to high-end fashion. The ads—which inspired a Brooklyn gallery show earlier this year—sometimes made art history unto themselves, as with the full-frontal nude of Lynda Benglis holding a massive dildo in 1974.
Following its acquisition by Penske, the magazine will still be run by publisher Danielle McConnell, associate publisher Kate Koza, and David Velasco, who has served as editor-in-chief since 2017. But the former primary owner and longtime publisher Anthony “Tony” Korner is stepping into what ARTnews described as “an ambassadorial role.”
“Our highest priority is to maintain the continued legacy of our print publication while ensuring a vigorous digital expansion,” McConnell said in a statement to ARTnews.
Korner and McConnell were previously half of a quartet of co-publishers for the magazine, along with Charles Guarino—not mentioned in the announcement—and Knight Landesman.
The magazine became embroiled in controversy in 2017, when Artnet News broke the story of sexual misconduct allegations against Landesman, who was forced to resign. At least 21 women eventually came forward, one of whom, Amanda Schmidt, sued both the magazine and Landesman himself.
In the aftermath, editor-in-chief Michelle Kuo resigned and 39 staffers wrote an open letter renouncing Landesman’s actions and the lackluster response from his fellow publishers. New York State court dismissed Schmidt’s case against Landesman in 2019, and the case with the magazine settled in 2021, at which time the magazine announced that Landesman was no longer an Artforum shareholder.
Representatives for Penkse and Artforum did not offer a comment on Guarino’s current role at the publication. He wrote a short exhibition preview for the magazine in the January 2020 issue.
Artforum is published monthly—as were both AiA and ARTnews, back when they were independent outlets. (Full disclosure: I worked at AiA from 2010 to 2014.)
They merged in 2015, when the Polish company Artnews SA purchased Brant Publications (which then also included Interview, which remained separate from the deal; the Magazine Antiques, now independently owned; and the since-shuttered Modern Magazine). ARTnews then went quarterly. Collector Peter Brant reacquired a majority stake in the publications when Artnews SA went bankrupt in 2016, before selling to Penkse. Sometime after that acquisition, AiA became bimonthly; Sarah Douglas is now editor-in-chief of both magazines.
Penske, which was founded in 2004, also owns more than 20 other publications, including Variety, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and WWD.
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