Aspen Magazine was conceived by editor Phyllis Johnson, while she was vacationing in Aspen, Colorado. Her premise was a multimedia magazine, designed by artists, that would showcase “culture along with play.” Wanting to “get away from the bound magazine format, which is really quite restrictive,” she began publishing essentially the first boxed artists’ periodical.
Initially scheduled to appear bi-monthly, Aspen in fact published only ten issues over six years. The first issue appeared in 1965 and the final publication was released in the summer of 1971. The plan was to turn over the design and editorial reins over to a different artist and editor for each issue. The first two publications stayed close to the magazine’s namesake, featuring texts on the city’s music and film festivals, skiing and mountain wildlife. Andy Warhol guest edited the third issue, the notorious Fab box, and set the standard for the issues that would follow. Fab included film flipbooks (Warhol’s own Kiss and Jack Smith’s Buzzards Over Bagdad), flexi-disk records (Loop by John Cale), and works by fellow Pop Artists Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Johns, and others.
Following this, issues were edited by such luminaries as Dan Graham, Jon Hendricks, and Angus MacLise, and designers included George Maciunas and Ralph Ortiz. Contributions included projects and writings by Roland Barthes, Peter Blake, Mel Bochner, William S. Burroughs, John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, David Hockney, John Lennon, Robert Morris, Yoko Ono, Robert Rauschenberg, Lou Reed and Susan Sontag.
From last September thru to March 2013, the Whitechapel Gallery is presenting, in the Pat Matthews Gallery, all ten copies of the legendary and influential magazine. A brief look at each issue will follow in the coming days.