Paper Exhibitions: From Magazine to Museum in France and the Americas

Speaker: Lori Cole


Event Description

“What do you think of the creation of a French museum of modern art?” the magazine L’Art Vivant asked in an enquête it issued in 1925. A year later, across the Atlantic, Forma, a journal based in Mexico City, announced the need for a “museum of modern American art,” which it enacted in its pages. As these examples suggest, in the early twentieth century, magazines became sites for reimagining what museums could be or serving as counter-institutions themselves. In this talk, I will consider how magazines instantiated sites of exhibition for modern art in France and the Americas. For instance, the journal Cahiers de la république des lettres des sciences et des arts called the twentieth century the “century of museums,” and in 1931 urged France to reorganize its public collections of art. In addition to serving as sites for debate, magazines functioned as extensions of galleries, as in the case of Bulletin de l’Effort Moderne. Some editors took on the role of curators, organizing physical exhibitions supported by their publications, while others were artists who used the magazine as a site of experimentation. Such strategies to supplement or supplant exhibitions in print prefigured the way artists in the 1960s onward used the magazine to circumvent an increasingly commercial art world and as an artistic medium itself. I plan to both historicize these practices in the modern period and to demonstrate their persistence today, as publications remain a rich site for artistic practice and formidable art institutions themselves.


Lori Cole is Clinical Associate Professor and Director of the interdisciplinary master’s program XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement at New York University. She has written extensively on the intersection of art and magazines, including for the exhibition catalogue Surrealism Beyond Borders, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate Modern in 2021, for which she was part of the Curatorial Advisory Committee. She is the author of Surveying the Avant-Garde: Questions on Modernism, Art, and the Americas in Transatlantic Magazines (Penn State University Press, 2018) and is currently working on a book about the multiple ways the modernist magazine functions as a site of exhibition.

art gallery with many paintings on two walls, a sculpture and seats.

Exposition des ‘Les maîtres du cubisme,’ at Galerie de L'Effort Moderne (May 1921) published in Bulletin de l’Effort Moderne (Jan. 1924)