April 1967. Rome, Via Fontana Liri, 27. In a suburban apartment Flash Art is born, the fruit of wild ideas, impossible-seeming dreams and obsessive lucubrations, all shared with a group of frustrated artists and critics just like us. In that era, in Italy and Europe, information on art was absent, or at best occasionally relegated to the corner of some obscure newspaper. Information was mostly local or provincial, typically entrusted to high school teachers.
Flash Art began publishing texts in Italian, English, French and German on behalf of the curious artists and critics who resided in the art capitals of the moment or traveled in search of something new. As such, interviews, thought pieces and news items began to arrive from London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Cologne and Moscow. We would often travel Europe and the world in search of new things: this is how, in New York, Giancarlo met Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, On Kawara, Robert Morris, Richard Serra and Walter De Maria. The magazine was creating a curious network among those who would become the protagonists of the era. It was an auspicious time, the birth of conceptual art, Minimalism and Arte Povera.
In 1971, we relocated from Rome to Milan, a city more open to the contemporary. The attention given our publication, born out of chance, was now global: finally, here was an art magazine that, thanks to its connections with artists, and without too much theoretical posturing, was informing people of the more cutting-edge artists working in Italy and overseas.
In 1979, in order to better and more directly follow the developments of the art world, we founded an English edition of the magazine, Flash Art International. The 1980s would then provide an enormous breadth of art production worldwide, and Flash Art gave voice to this new art system that was being born, with its galleries, auction houses, collectors, artists and, later, superstar curators.
We built a structure with offices in New York and Milan, and, to keep up with contemporary art’s omnivorous global expansion, we began publishing the magazine in various other languages besides Italian and English — French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German, Polish and Czech (the latter is still being published and generates strong local interest). Artists like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan and Francesco Vezzoli, emblems of the climate of change in the 1990s, grew up with the magazine. Flash Art’seditorial offices became a launchpad for critics and future curators.
And like that, through highs and lows, almost without noticing, fifty years have passed. This issue is dedicated to revisiting our history. It features texts and interviews that reassess key passages in recent art history, in each case using landmark content from the magazine’s archive as a point of departure. Thanks to all those who have followed us, and who will continue to follow Flash Art over the next fifty years.
Giancarlo Politi and Helena Kontova, founders
1967 – 2017
Art Has to Stay Art
Anarchitecture as Poetic Device
Lonely Warriors Against an Authoritarian Regime
Boris Klyushnikov, Sasha Novozhenova, Andrey Shental
Excerpts from the 80s
The Better Biennale
Helena Kontova and Hans Ulrich Obrist
Cattelan Cover Story
Aspiring to Dissolution
Meriem Bennani The Kitchen/New York; John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres Alexander and Bonin/New York; Senga Nengudi DePaul Museum, Chicago; Franklin Williams Parker/Los Angeles; Elaine Cameron-Weir Hannah Hoffmann/Los Angeles; José Antonio Suárez Londoño and Santiago de Paoli Lulu/Mexico City; Jessi Reaves and Bradley Kronz Dorich House Museum/London; TJ Wilcox Sadie Coles/London; Sophie Dupont Overgaden/Copenhagen; “Art Without Death: Russian Cosmism” Haus der Kulturen der Welt/Berlin; Sergej Jensen Neu/Berlin; John Russell Kunsthalle Zurich; Dexter Dalwood Hubert Winter/Vienna; Beatriz Olabarrieta Antoine Levi/Paris; Lucio Fontana Pirelli HangarBicocca/Milan; “Windows” Jhaveri Contemporary/Mumbai; Wang Gongxin White Cube/London; Rika Noguchi Taka Ishii/Tokyo.