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Two Contemporary Art Magazines That Rock

Ah, the eye candy that is art. It is the works of an artist that invites us, the viewer, to dream, to be moved by those who transmit a story, a symbol, or a message with paint, graphite, and ink. Today, the average art consumer can quickly turn to social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and others to find cool images and share them with friends and associates.

There are, however, at least two art authorities that still communicate the “old-school” way, by publishing high-quality issues with articles and glossy images on real paper, despite the growing dominance of social media and digital communication channels that have captivated the minds of the millennial.

Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose are two such “dark horses” that navigate a firm yet delicate balance between traditional publishing media and online sites that strengthen their overall impact on art audiences. These magazines share innovative visual art and insightful commentary with readers, attracting social media converts who crave more information than those platforms alone can provide.

These two publications have widened their audience by choosing a classic communication model that includes a print magazine used to educate art fans and offer critical review on a new breed of artist, one more in tune with what’s being produced out there in the “real” art world. Here’s a brief summary of the character of both.

juxtapoz2
art by Robert Williams

Juxtapoz

History

San Francisco-based Juxtapoz is the modern underground artist’s champion, a High Speed Productions publication started in 1994 by a group of forward-thinking creatives who highlight the works of alternative artists closely connected to the urban art scene.

Most prominent among this group are Robert Williams, creator of Zap Comix, and skateboarder icon Fausto Vitello, creator of Thrasher Magazine. Their unique styles and colorful imagery gave Juxtapoz the instant attitude it was looking for, and contributing artists and underground art collectors embraced the publication almost immediately.

Early issues showcase illustrative pioneers who embraced psychedelic, street art, graffiti, and pop culture themes that existed outside of mainstream art culture. Today, the magazine has expanded its repertoire of art medium coverage to include sculpture, music, fashion, and film. Juxtapoz has also released several hardcover books based on central themes like photography, poster art, erotica, handmade objects, and hyperreal painting.

 

Why They Matter

Juxtapoz wields massive influence among a subset of dedicated fringe artists and fans loyal to their evolution, and more recently, to a larger contemporary core of descendents. The publication reached a pinnacle of achievement in 2009, with the largest reported U.S. circulation among art magazines. Their website now offers visitors a complete art experience and further extends the brand’s influence on the art scene, with dedicated sections for feature videos, an online store, and a list of upcoming shows in America and Europe.

 

highfructose2
art by Mark Ryden

High Fructose

History

Hi-Fructose owes a similar allegiance to a West Coast pop-surrealist art movement sometimes referred to as “lowbrow,” which gained momentum and interest in Los Angeles during the late 1970’s. It is a comparatively young publication that began publishing quarterly issues in 2005.

Hi-Fructose, like Juxtapoz, frequently pays homage to visionary artists bred on a steady diet of underground comics, hot-rod car culture, and street art themes.

In May of this year, Hi-Fructose celebrated its ten-year anniversary by staging an ambitious touring exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the museum’s largest show to date. The exhibit continues into 2017, with stops in Akron and Sacramento.

 

Why They Matter

Hi-Fructose is a smartly-crafted art journal that contains vivid, glossy pages and a highly-colorful aesthetic that’s steeped in attitude, supplied by a growing camp of modern art’s most talented unknowns.

A number of successful “genre-bending” artists like Audrey Kawasaki, Shephard Fairey, Todd Schorr, and Mark Ryden have gained considerable notoriety through their affiliation with the magazine, and its journal frequently highlights some of the most talented contemporary artists who seldom enjoy the spotlight and support mainstream artists do.

 

Afterword

Noticeably absent from this list are established print journals like ArtForum, ArtNews, and Frieze, who, while being reliable sources of information related to the arts in general, bear the weight of too much social, political, and societal information to be purely concerned with contemporary visual art, for art’s sake.

It is extremely difficult to find art magazines with little need for newsworthy or editorial subject matter (and the associated marketing content, the lifeblood of any sensible print publication), but Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose have found ways to stay true to the artist and the work, as a primary focal point. Bravo, you urban art musketeers!

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