Art Websites: A Subjective Selection

By Martyna Majewska

Since last week I shared my list of cool artsy people to follow on instagram, I thought it would be appropriate to add a few words about websites, journals, and online platforms to keep an eye on. This will not be a “the best of” list, but I do have a set of criteria. First of all, as you have probably inferred, I am interested in contemporary art, so if you’re more into the Renaissance, you will be disappointed (although, to be honest, it’s probably best to check JSTOR or, sadly, the library). The second criterion is determined by the financial status of most students, i.e. I am not willing to pay for subscription and I want to read complete articles for free. Finally, I am looking for quality writing on things that matter, rather than merely stating auction results and news of curatorial appointments. Of course, I am not trying to downplay the importance of websites that provide us with what’s commonly referred to as “art news,” but these are easy to find and rather straightforward. What I am after is an accessible online journal featuring columnists who always air their views, no matter how much discussion they might engender.

For starters, my absolute favourite: Hyperallergic. Not only will it update you on the hottest art world stories, it is also likely to make you engage critically. What makes this blogazine (a fascinating hybrid term found on Wikpedia) stand out is that its authors are young and bold, which means that their writing is anything but bland. Certainly, their knowledge is of equal importance. Last year, as I was doing research for an essay about Sturtevant, I found Hyperallergic’s review of her MoMA retrospective to be more informed and compelling than the one published in The New York Times, as well as more inspiring than the MoMA PS1 exhibition blog. 

While talking of inspiration – what inspired me to write this post was actually a number of excellent texts published on one website: Artsy. It may have been founded as a platform for art buyers, but it has since become a great source of artsy writing. Putting aside the algorithms that allow you to find artworks likely to suit your taste, Artsy will also keep you informed and possibly even make you feel at ease in the company of art-loving snobs. Where else will you find an essay on the future of art by Hans Ulrich Obrist (the Serpentine curator mentioned last week), an interview with the Harlem Studio Museum Director, Thelma Golden, and Coco Fusco talking about the work of Ana Mendieta, all published within one week?

Something perhaps less well-known is the London-based Artlyst, which defines itself as “Web project created by artists to help artists, designers, galleries, collectors, and art professionals to connect and promote new ideas of visual expression.” In practice, it announces and reviews exhibitions that many other websites and more respected art journals are bound to overlook, like graduate shows. Besides some serious news and articles, Artlyst features a section entitled “Fun Stuff.” Why not take a quiz on “David Bowie’s Art Connections,” instead of playing FarmVille (or whatever is in vogue on facebook these days)? In addition, Artlyst’s new creation is a series of “Top 10” lists updated fortnightly: here you can discover not only the top 10 cat paintings or easter eggs by famous artists but also the most sought after refugee artists and the most sexist artworks.

A sorry addendum:

Finally, and rather unfortunately, I have decided to add two journals that do not comply, or comply only partially, with the criteria mentioned above. One of them is e-flux, which publishes probably the most intellectually challenging texts of all the sources included in this post. If you don’t want to buy the monthly publication, at least familiarise yourself with the issues discussed briefly on their website. Even without the chance to read the whole text, you are likely to be prompted to delve deeper into those matters. The other resource is the good old New Yorker. Even though it contains articles on virtually everything, not just art, the reviews and essays in the Culture section are invariably intelligent and beautifully written. Many are available online. What’s more, The New Yorker’s editors have an eye for great photography, so if you don’t feel like reading but wouldn’t mind just looking, make sure to check it out.