More than a Magazine

November 12, 2009

One of my favorite things about working in LACMA’s research library is getting to share and showcase our treasures—everything from artists’ books and scarce first editions to surrealist ephemera and out-of-print periodicals. One of these rarities is a complete run of the magnificent magazine Art/Life. Conceived, compiled, and edited for twenty-five years by Joe Cardella, Art/Life truly must be seen to be believed.


Images of the celebratory 200th issue of Art/Life

Art/Life is so much more than your typical art magazine. Envisioned by Cardella to be a sharing mechanism for artists, Art/Life is exactly that. Artists and poets wanting to participate in this cultural exchange created multiples of their contributions, signed and numbered them, and sent them out to sunny California to be ordered and assembled. Each of the 276 monthly volumes—published from 1981 to 2005—is a unique work of art: hand-made, hand-numbered, hand-bound. I didn’t believe it at first, but every single edition of every single volume is an original.

This full run of Art/Life, formerly part of a private collection, was generously donated to the library in 2009. We were thrilled when we saw what a treasure trove this publication is; so thrilled, in fact, that we decided we had to share it. We’ve permanently moved Art/Life from the Special Collections room to display cabinets in the reading room for your viewing pleasure. Just email us to schedule an appointment to come in and see it up close.

Maggie Hanson, Stacks Manager, Balch Research Library