Peter Hill

The Albury Wodonga Superfiction 1993

Collaboration Peter Hill and J.J. Voss (Photographer)


Artscribe (International)

Artscribe (International), was a UK based art magazine that qualifies as a Superfiction on the grounds that it kept the same name but changed its appearance frequently under at least six different editors over a fifteen year period.Those editors were: Alan Gouk, James Faure Walker (assisted by Simon Vaughan Winter), Mathew "Scrapper" Collings (assisted by Helena Drysdale), Stuart Morgan (assisted by Ian Brunskill), Michael Archer (assisted by Marjorie Allthorpe Guyton), Marjorie Allthorpe Guyton. Like a knife that has had three new blades and four new handles it became increasingly difficult to tell if this was the same magazine as it mutated from one form into another, generally getting larger, glossier, and deeper into debt as each year went by.

When Collings hijacked the magazine from Faure Walker, when the latter was on an Australian lecture tour in 1983, it marked the end of the old order. Faure Walker disliked artists interviews. Collings subsequently filled the magazine with them. Faure Walker was big on foot-notes. Collings all but banned them. Faure Walker was reputed to be less than enchanted by the new figurative movement and its internationalism. Collings loved it, and the pages of Artscribe started to overflow with interviews and articles on Richard Bosman, Julian Schnabel, Anselm Kiefer, Jorg Immendorf, Francesco Clemente, Steven Campbell, Jean Charles Blais, Imants Tillers, and A R Penck.

Artscribe (International) . Different editors, different covers

As Artscribe slid deeper into debt it either had to be closed down or else sold and, possibly, made glossier and more international. Collings took the latter route, brilliantly many thought, and sold the magazine to the Butlers, American tycoons who poured much of their dosh into it and funded the international distribution process which would take it to Art Fairs around the world and into high street newsagancies. Doris Saatchi had, for some years, been writing occasional articles for Artscribe and it was rumoured at one time that the Saatchis might purchase the magazine. It was also rumoured that they put Collings in touch with the Butlers.

Around this time Simon Vaughan Winter took his leave.

Things were, to use that old journalistic cliche, going from strength to strength. Then, disaster struck. Collings, tired and emotional, came to blows (literally) with his distribution editor John Cornall. Collings was suspended for a month and then dismissed by Patricia Fleming Butler. ( Collings was editor, 1983-88) By this stage Artscribe had a strong international feel, mediating well between Cologne and New York in addition to focusing on London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Scotland.

From this point onwards Artscribe, soon to add the necessary late-eighties tag International, went through many personality changes until, after its sale to a company called Hale which had strong links with the carpet industry, it went into its final form.

It grew even bigger, priced itself out of the market, and its death came swiftly. The artworld itself had mutated, and its final issues were as far removed from new figuration as any decent paradigm change will allow. This was the era of Damien Hirst, Sophe Calle, Martin Kippenberger, Jeff Koons, Thomas Ruff, Svetlana Kopystiansky, and the opening up of Japan with articles like Cybersushi.

One of the knock-on effects of all these changes at Artscribe over fifteen years, and of its eventual demise, was the changes it wrought on art publishing in general.

Peter Fuller had been a long-time contributor under James Faure Walker. By the late eighties he had gone off to found his own magazine Modern Painters for which Mathew Collings, would you believe, later became a contributor before flirting with an MA at Goldsmith's and then moving to cover the visual arts for The Late Show on BBC2.

Marjorie Allthorpe Guyton is now visual arts director of The Arts Council of Great Britain.

After Artscribe foundered many of its contributors (mostly ex-editors) returned to write for Artmonthly in London and later frieze which appealed to young artists across Europe in the same way that the last incarnation of Artscribe had not. Other contributors over the years included Terence Muloon, Andrea Hill, John Roberts, Iain Biggs, Rasaad Jamie, Timothy Hyman, Peter Hill, Jerome Sans, Dr Wolfgang Max Faust, Jutta Koether, Diederich Diederichson.

Dead, but not forgotten, it is missed by many for a number of very different reasons.

If you are reading this on interactive disc or digitised tape, you can key in "Artscribe" and access every issue of the magazine. Note: Black and white illustrations from the early issues have been replaced by colour images.

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