‘Artforum’ Staff Breaks Ranks With Publishers in a Letter Condemning the Magazine’s Management

The staff is not happy with the way things have been handled.

The current issue of Artforum. Courtesy of Artforum.

As allegations of sexual harassment against Artforum publisher Knight Landesman continue to come to light, the staff of the magazine and its sister publication Bookforum have taken a strong stance against the title’s publishers and their response to the recent revelations.

artnet News first publicized the accusations against Landesman, who had been with the magazine for 35 years, on Tuesday. The next day, Landesman tendered his resignation from the magazine. More women have since come forward with additional accounts of his sexually inappropriate behavior.

Here is the statement published by the staff on the magazine’s own website:

We, the undersigned staff of Artforum and Bookforum, condemn the way the allegations against Knight Landesman have been handled by our publishers and repudiate the statements that have been issued to represent us so far. We are committed to gender justice and to the eradication of sexual harassment in the art community and beyond. We are now gravely aware of the work that needs to be done at our own publication, and call on the publishers to work with us to create radical and lasting change. There is much more to be said, and in the future we will be addressing these events in greater depth. Our intent right now is to state our position unequivocally.

The message, published late yesterday, was accompanied by the signatures of 39 staff members, including the magazine’s incoming editor-in-chief David Velasco, who is currently editor of Artforum.com.

The signatories come from both the editorial and business sides of the magazine and also include the managing editors of both Artforum and BookforumArtforum‘s photo editor, and two advertising staffers who work under Artforum‘s co-publisher Danielle McConnell.

Michelle Kuo attends the Fondazione Prada Opening on May 3, 2015 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty Images for Fondazione Prada)

The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Michelle Kuo, announced her resignation on Wednesday. She said she had informed management of her decision last week and that the mounting accusations against Landesman motivated her to leave.

“I felt that, in light of the troubling allegations surrounding one of our publishers, I could no longer serve as a public representative of Artforum,” Kuo told ARTnews. “We need to make the art world a more equitable, just, and safe place for women at all levels. And that can only be achieved when organizations and communities are bound by shared trust, honesty, and accountability.”

The same day that Landesman resigned, a former employee, Amanda Schmitt, filed a lawsuit against him and Artforum. She alleges that he harassed her for years, and that the magazine’s leadership did not do enough to stop it.

When artnet News first reported on the allegations, Landesman’s fellow Artforum publishers, Tony Korner, Charles Guarino, and Danielle McConnell, called the accusations “unfounded” and described them as “an attempt to exploit a relationship that [the former employee] herself worked hard to create and maintain.”

They also noted that “at no time was Artforum complicit or culpable. In fact, we took her complaint very seriously, and used it as an opportunity to strengthen our policies within the workplace.”

Announcing Landesman’s resignation the next day, the publishers said they had realized through conversations with staff members that the longtime co-publisher had “engaged in unacceptable behavior and caused a hostile work environment.” They plan to create a task force of women at the magazine to oversee the transformation of Artforum‘s workplace, they said.

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