ASPEN MAGAZINE Number 7
Original 1970 edition: The British Box
Mario Amaya (editor): ASPEN MAGAZINE Number 7 - BRITISH BOX. New York: Roaring Fork Press, Spring-Summer 1970. First edition. A near very good hinged box (shipped flat) containing fourteen numbered items ( item number 15 apparently does not exist) with no advertisements (as issued). The box is lightly worn and split at two corner junctures. Glossy white exterior lightly rubbed. Box contents in near-fine condition, with the subscription form missing. See contents listed below. Designed by John Kosh. Box designed by Richard Smith.
For the uninitiated, ASPEN called itself a multimedia magazine of the arts and was originally published from 1965 to 1971. Each issue of Aspen was delivered to subscribers in a box, which contained a variety of media: printed matter in different formats, phonograph recordings, and even a reel of Super-8 film.
Aspen was conceived by Phyllis Johnson, a former editor for Women's Wear Daily and Advertising Age. While wintering in Aspen, Colorado, she got the idea for a multimedia magazine, designed by artists, that would showcase "culture along with play." So in the winter of 1965, she published her first issue. "We wanted to get away from the bound magazine format, which is really quite restrictive," said Johnson.
Each issue had a new designer and editor. "Aspen," Johnson said, "should be a time capsule of a certain period, point of view, or person." The subject matter of issue number 1 and issue number 2 stayed close to the magazine's namesake ski spa, with features on Aspen's film and music festivals, skiing, mountain wildlife, and local architecture.
Andy Warhol and David Dalton broke that mold with issue number 3, the superb Pop Art issue, devoted to New York art and counterculture scenes. Quentin Fiore designed issue number 4, a McLuhanesque look at our media-made society. The next issue, a double issue number 5+6, was an imaginative, wide-ranging look at conceptual art, minimalist art, and postmodern critical theory. Issue number 6A, a freebie sent to ever-patient subscribers, was a review of the performance art scene centered at New York's Judson Gallery. Next came issue number 7, exploring new voices in British arts and culture. Issue number 8, designed by George Maciunas and edited by Dan Graham, was dominated by artists of the Fluxus group. Issue number 9 plumbed the art and literature of the psychedelic drug movement. The last ASPEN, issue number 10, was devoted to Asian art and philosophy and is not included in this set.
If Aspen was an art director's dream, it was also an advertiser's nightmare. The ads, stashed at the bottom of the box, were easily ignored. And although Aspen was supposed to publish quarterly, in reality the publication date of each issue was as much of a surprise as the contents. "All the artists are such shadowy characters," publisher Johnson said, "that it takes months to track them down." After issue 5+6, there were no more ads in the magazine.
Perhaps Aspen was a folly, but it was a vastly pleasurable one, with a significant place in art history. The list of contributors included some of the most interesting artists of the 20th Century. And as an exemplar of creative publishing, Aspen was a wonder. Its contents, however, are all but lost: few copies of Aspen have survived.
ASPEN no. 7: THE BRITISH BOX: Fourteen numbered items (though the box states that this issue comprises fifteen sections, section number 15 apparently does not exist); no advertisements. Edited by Mario Amaya, designed by John Kosh. Published Spring-Summer 1970 by Roaring Fork Press, NYC.
1. Box. Hinged box, 10 by 9-1/2 by 1-1/4 inches, shipped flat. Box designed by Richard Smith. After assembly, contains sections 2 through 14.
2. British Knickers. Sewing pattern by Ossie Clark.
4. The Gay Atomic Coloring Book. Drawings by Eduardo Paolozzi.
5. Five essays and one fiction. Twenty-four page book. Includes: The "London" Decade: Mario Amaya; London Subcultures: Michael Instone; Communicators: Christopher Finch; New Names in British Cinema: David Robinson; British Poetry Now: Edward Lucie-Smith; and Crash! (excerpt): J. G. Ballard.
6. Souvenir no. 1. Kitsch found by Peter Blake.
7. Souvenir no. 2. Kitsch found by Peter Blake.
8. The Lennon Diary 1969. Diary of the future, by John Lennon. Facsimile pocket diary for 1969, written November 1968.
9. Lyrics. Folder enclosing items 10 and 11, printed with text of Ono, Lennon and Tavener phonograph recordings.
10. Phonograph recording. John Tavener / Christopher Logue. Side A: Three Songs for Surrealists by John Tavener, words by Edward Lucie-Smith. Text printed on item 9. Side B: Christopher Logue Reads "New Numbers"
11. Phonograph recording. Yoko Ono & John Lennon. Side A: Song for John and No Bed for Beatle John by Yoko Ono. Text printed in item 9. Side B: Radio Play by John Lennon.
12. Europa & Her Bull. Typographical triptych by John Furnival.
13. Wave/rock. Concrete poetry by Ian Hamilton Finlay.
14. Notes on Rumpelstiltskin. Drawings by David Hockney.
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