Photo of the Day: Sad Bouquet on Traffic Control

Photo of the Day: Sad Bouquet on Traffic Control

Photograph by: Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

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Aspen Magazine’s Final Issue: The Asia Issue (1971)

Aspen: The Multimedia Magazine in a Box (10 Issues, 1965-1971)

Aspen: the Multimedia Magazine in a Box

Aspen was conceived by Phyllis Johnson, a former editor for Women’s Wear Daily and Advertising Age. While wintering in Aspen, Colorado, she got the idea for a multimedia magazine, designed by artists, which would showcase “culture along with play.” So in the winter of 1965, she published her first issue. “We wanted to get away from the bound magazine format, which is really quite restrictive,” said Johnson.

Aspen published 10 issues between 1965 and 1971. Most of the issues arrived in a notebook-size box stuffed with articles that had been printed individually rather than stapled together. But it was the nature of its contents that made Aspen magazine stand out like a ski lift in a cornfield. Each issue was as likely to hold postcards, posters and phonograph records as essays. Among the magazine’s 235 contributors were many prominent figures on the 1960’s cultural landscape, including: Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg, John Cage, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham, John Lennon, Marshall McLuhan, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. Each issue had a new designer and editor. “Aspen,” Johnson said, “should be a time capsule of a certain period, point of view, or person.” The last Aspen, issue number 10, was devoted to Asian art and philosophy.

If Aspen was an art director’s dream, it was also an advertiser’s nightmare. The ads, stashed at the bottom of the box, were easily ignored. And although Aspen was supposed to publish quarterly, in reality the publication date of each issue was as much of a surprise as the contents. “All the artists are such shadowy characters,” publisher Johnson said, “that it takes months to track them down.” After issue 5+6, there were no more ads in the magazine. Perhaps Aspen was a folly, but it was a vastly pleasurable one, with a significant place in art history. The list of contributors included some of the most interesting artists of the 20th Century. And as a paragon of creative publishing, Aspen was a true wonder. Its contents, however, are all but lost; few copies of Aspen have survived.

The Asia Issue contained fifteen numbered items, no advertisements and no editorial credits. It was published in 1971 by Aspen Communications Inc., NYC.

Music Audio: Peter Walker/White Wind:

Aspen Magazine’s Final Issue: The Asia Issue (1971)

Clearing Autumn Skies Over Mountains and Valleys, Kuo Hsi, China 11th Century

A Mountain Village In Clearing Mist, Ying Yu-chien, China, 11th Century

Tagasode (Whose Sleeves?), Anonymous, Japan, 17th Century

Noh and Kyogen Plays, Three-Panels, Anonymous, Japan, 17th Century

Waves, Two-Fold Screen, Ogata Korin, Japan (1658-1716)

Thou art That, Hindu Temple Sculptures, India, 11th Century

Vaishnava Painting, Indian Miniature Paintings, Northwest India, 18th Century

The Yama Tanka, Hanging Scroll, Tibet, 18th Century

Aspen Magazine’s Final Issue: The Asia Issue (Number 10, 1971)

Aspen: A Guided Tour of the Multimedia Magazine in a Box

Kenneth Goldsmith, the founding editor of UbuWeb, gives us an audio guided tour of Aspen Magazine, which is now housed permanently on UbuWeb. The tour includes an in-depth look at the films, recording, sculptures, writings and images that this remarkable publication produced. Published 10 times between 1965 and 1971, Aspen billed itself as the first three-dimensional magazine. Most of the issues arrived in a notebook-size box stuffed with articles that had been printed individually rather than stapled together. However, it was the nature of its contents that made Aspen magazine stand out like a ski lift in a cornfield. Each issue was as likely to hold postcards, posters and phonograph records as essays. And among the magazine’s 235 contributors were many prominent figures on the 60’s cultural landscape, includingAmong the magazine’s 235 contributors were many prominent figures on the 1960’s cultural landscape, who included: Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg, John Cage, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham, John Lennon, Marshall McLuhan, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.

An Audio Tour by Kenneth Goldsmith:

Aspen Magazine (Artists, Authors, Audio, Movies, Interactive Exhibits and Advertisements): The Complete Index

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