When a person dies, there's a funeral and obituaries. But when a magazine falls victim to corporate buyouts, it just quietly disappears.
So let's take this opportunity to remember the legacy of American Artist magazine, which recently announced that it has ceased publication.
Just as it celebrated its 75th Anniversary, its Facebook page announced: "We are no longer publishing American Artist, and we're so sad to see it go!" In an announcement on its website, AA told subscribers that their subscription will roll over to the Artist's Magazine. American Artist's former rival acquired it, dissolved it, and adopted its readers.
American Artist was founded in 1937 under the name "Art Instruction" by the two architectural draughtsmen Ernest Watson and Arthur Guptill (above), who also founded Watson-Guptill, the book publishing company. Their founding mission was practical, didactic, and businesslike.
The first decades of the magazine spotlighted both easel painters and illustrators. The articles were usually based on studio visits, and the discussion always included process and professionalism as well as philosophy.
American Artist helped popularize Andrew Wyeth, Robert Vickrey (below), Tom Nicholas, Richard Schmid, and even Frank Frazetta, who had a cover feature in 1976. For many artists, an article or a cover feature cemented their reputation.
For students wanting to learn about painting before the Internet era, it was the clearest window into the world of real working artists. The classified ads were the way to find out about workshops, art schools, or new art supplies.
In addition to the main magazine, they developed themed issues: drawing, watercolor, plein-air, studios, and workshops. Although these special issues spread the magazine's presence widely across the newsstands, they were taxing on the small staff to produce all those pages of content and still keep up its Internet presence.
The magazine was bought and sold by various large media companies, starting with Billboard, and later Nielsen and Interweave, and most recently F+W Media.
Thank you to Stephen Doherty, Michael Gormley, Allison Malafronte, Bob Bahr, John Parks, Naomi Ekperigin, and all the people who worked so hard to bring us the magazine over the years.
I'd love to hear your recollections about American Artist. Please vote for your favorite current art magazine in the poll at left. You can vote for more than one.
--------GNSI spotlight on Arthur Guptill
(My articles in AA were on Color and Light and Portable Portraits, and my cover feature was Nov. 2006)