Aspen Magazine was a multimedia magazine conceived of, edited and published by Phyllis Johnson in New York from 1965 to 1971. Aspen broke new ground in terms of its editorial concept, design approach and distribution strategy, which continues to be resonant and influential today.
The magazine featured a diverse and impressive array of contributors, from such key artists, musicians, authors and theorists as Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Ed Ruscha, J. G. Ballard, Bill Evans, Philip Glass, the Velvet Underground and Yoko Ono. Known as “the magazine in a box”, Aspen was made up of unbound contents that included texts, flexi-discs, reels of film and other objects. It struck a chord in the 1960s artists’ publishing culture—which included publications by Marcel Duchamp, Seth Siegelaub and members of the Fluxus movement—and embraced the idea of presenting travelling exhibitions in a book (or a box, for that matter) in order to provide alternative spaces and economies for art.
The exhibition Aspen Magazine: 1965–1971, from November 26 to February 8 2015, at Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, features complete sets of all issues, with a focus on the combined edition of issues five and six from 1967, which was guest-edited by Brian O’Doherty and is referred to as The Conceptual Issue. Contributors to this issue include Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Hans Richter, Sol LeWitt, Mel Bochner, Naum Gabo, László Moholy-Nagy, Dan Graham, George Kubler, Robert Morris, William S. Burroughs, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Morton Feldman, Michel Butor, Tony Smith and Merce Cunningham. Barthes first published his influential and important essay The Death of the Author in this issue.