Launched in 1964, the insanely avant-garde Aspen was a three-dimensional, multimedia magazine in a box. Inventive to the last, the New York-based publication included reels of Super-8 film, postcards, phonograph recordings of spoken word, jazz and electronica, sewing patterns, essays on critical theory and LSD, musical scores, posters, poetry, scripts, booklets and – hidden at the bottom – an advert or two.
As publisher Phillis Johnson reminded subscribers to the first issue, the word ʻmagazineʼ originally meant ʻa storehouse, a cache, a ship laden with stores.ʼ With contributions from David Hockney, Susan Sontag, John Cage, Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Ossie Clark, Peter Blake, William S. Burroughs, Samuel Beckett, Lou Reed, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Robert Rauschenberg, this storehouse was near-bursting with creative goods. Seeing as Aspen was first to publish Roland Barthes’ ‘Death of an Author’ though, perhaps we shouldn’t fawn too much over this roster of artistic revolutionaries. Initially inspired by the ski resort Aspen, content quickly drifted to cover Pop Art, media-made society, postmodern critical theory, London, psychedelia and Asian philosophy.
Arguably the most imaginative, groundbreaking and foolhardy magazine ever produced, Aspen only survived for 10 issues. Near impossible to track down in their original form, the Whitechapel Gallery is currently offering an extremely rare chance to see all ten issues along with fascinating paraphernalia. The complete archives are available online, but if you get the chance, you really ought to see these in the flesh. They just don’t make them like this anymore.
Aspen Magazine: 1965 – 1971 is at the Whitechapel Gallery until March 3.
- The creative team behind John Grant’s post-apocalyptic world
- They have beauty, they have grace, they are Jack Mears’ ceramic dogs
- Caroline Tompkins deftly captures goggle marks, swim caps and foam floats
- Illustrator Jan Robert Duennweller's erratic style creates "visual headlines"
- Réka Neszmélyi's boundary breaking identity for Hungarian Bánkitó Cultural & Music Festival 2016
- Five things to remember as a young creative
- Benedict Redgrove’s beautifully hypnotic film about how a tennis ball is created
- Tommy Cash subverts the tropes of rap videos with a fleshy celebration of the human body (NSFW)
- Ian Davis’ picturesque paintings of bureaucratic dystopia
- Is it ever OK to work for free?
- Pentagram unveils refresh of Mastercard’s brand mark and identity
- Peter Saville and Tate Design Studio create beer can artwork for Switch House pale ale