“Cover, a magazine of art”
Selected Subject Headings
- Art - 1980s
- Art critics - fiction
- Artists - legal status, laws, etc. - United States
- Fashion and art
- Formalism (art)
- Experimental films - United States
- Institute for Art and Urban Resources
- Labor unions - political activity - Poland
- Parti communiste du Kampuchea - pictorial works
- Prayers for Peace
- Punk culture - United States
- Taller Boricua
- Theoretical Girls (musical group)
- Women film directors - United States
“What does go on in art nowadays that means national, regional, or geographical differences? Or, for that matter, differences between art made in metropolitan centers and art made elsewhere? […] But now [these differences have] faded too. Now the “far-out” has become in effect official art everywhere in the West, for museums as well as collectors, for governments as well as the press. We have, all of us in the West--and what an irony there is in that--followed the West German led.”
Interesting 1981 perceptions from Clement Greenberg, who ends his short essay “Contemporary art in different places” with a Greenbergian salvo for art’s autonomy “because the only differences that count in the end--when it comes to art as art--are those of quality, value, esthetic value;” accompanying his words, on the neighboring page, we find a series of quaint female nude sketches penned by Greenberg himself in 1938.
But we quote his words because they point towards two facets that make Cover magazine a very interesting document: its total eclecticism and a metropolitan internationalism that would bring us global cultural homogenization.
Edited by Judith Aminoff and published in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Cover relishes in the seminal eclecticism that characterized New York’s cultural fringes during those years. For example, in the same issue in which Greenberg’s words and pretty sketches appear, we also find the voices of Michael Corris, Gary Indiana and Thomas Lawson. That’s a mix. But there are many others during Cover’s short history: from 1980s New York experimental avant-garde film to neo-expressionist painting, or remnants of conceptual art alongside No-Wave clubs, bands and gigs next to the incipient work of what would be later called postmodernist practices: Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince or Jenny Holzer.
Painter Malcolm Morley, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, choreographer Pina Bausch, filmmaker Robert Kramer, author Richard Foreman, cultural critic Craig Owens, all represented in Cover’s pages. And all of these disparate voices and practices, high and low, acquiescent or resistant, tied together by a shifting and imaginative magazine layout reflecting the publication’s growth into maturity: from no advertising to lavish gallery announcements, with its color plates spreads in its last issue in 1983.
It is in its last issue that Cover's metropolitan internationalism materializes itself with a bilingual edition, in English and French; the New York/Paris nexus. Perhaps this internationalism has more to do with New York’s cosmopolitanism or the editor's personal itineraries than a conscious attempt at diverging from Greenberg’s mentioned “West German led” “far-out” official art, but what is important nonetheless is that we are offered a fascinating glimpse to a moment in New York that was specific to itself: a city leaving behind the gloomy 1970s, through Cover's pages we witness a change of guard of sorts, combined with the eruption of repressed punk creative energies from artists, filmmakers, musicians, and writers; and what is precious is that we are able to observe through Cover’s evolution how these become increasingly professionalized or marginalized, an indication of things to come.
But Cover diffused them all, giving space to the voice and words of artists and creators in a landscape about to change forever, leaving us puzzled, here in 2013, surrounded by art fairs and commercial galleries and trying to imagine from our vantage point how did things turned out to be this way? We also wonder, could they have been any different, or importantly, why should they have been any different?
Cover cannot answer our musings, but it is an obligatory stop to learn how we got here. Here meaning any homogenized metropolitan center, our globe. And here too, where refusal and creation continue.
To peruse the indexed contents of Cover, please log into the database.
[*]ccindex worked with a complete set of the magazine on consignment from James Hoff, Primary Information.
Clement Greenberg. "Contemporary art in different places," Cover (New York), no. 6 (Winter 81-82) : 4-5.