RA Magazine Autumn 2008
Issue Number: 100
Editorial: Hand in Hand
Two silhouetted children, hand in hand, on a verdant, pulsating background. Look closely, and you see their bodies contain an intricate lace-like pattern. I’m trying to describe the picture below and, as I do so, to remember the thrill of meeting the artist, Stephen Chambers RA, at his home in North London and hearing him generously offer to donate the print as a prize to celebrate the magazine’s 100th issue.
Stephen Chambers, Double Stamping, 2008 63 x 90 cm
We are delighted to be able to give you the chance to win Stephen’s print. It seemed only right that the magazine, which has for 25 years covered the work of Royal Academicians, should celebrate by offering readers a chance to own one of their works. But for me, meeting Stephen was also a perfect introduction to my role as caretaker editor while Sarah Greenberg enjoys her maternity leave.
In this special issue, kindly supported by Wedgwood, we look back at our first 100 issues and chronicle what has been, as critic Richard Cork concludes, one of the most exciting periods in British art. There has been a boom in our cultural infrastructure, with Tate Modern, monumental in its impact, only the most obvious example. Money has flooded the art market. The blockbuster show has continued to attract huge audiences. More than anything, we have become a society that has developed a genuine appetite for contemporary art. There was a time when the Royal Academy may have seemed aloof, part of a tradition separate from the cut and thrust of the culture of the day. That would probably have always been an unfair analysis, but now it doesn’t seem to ring true at all.
Our 100th-issue timeline weaves together the threads of the changing art world and the Academy’s championing of art and artists. It’s a coming together that has given us the Academy’s first fully fledged season of radical contemporary art (GSK Contemporary) and the most complete examination of Byzantine art seen in Britain for a generation. What kind of picture will all these threads eventually reveal?
Our cover feature tells the story of Aimé Maeght and his catalytic role in the lives of Miró, Calder, Giacometti and Braque. The sense of a world coming back to life after the hardships of war could not be more vividly imagined. Perhaps by the time the magazine celebrates its next 100 issues we will be looking back on another equally invigorating era.
My arrival at RA Magazine coincides with the appointment of our new designers, led by Swiss-born type specialist, Micha Weidmann. I hope you like the fresh look he and his team have brought and find it in keeping with the values that have made the magazine so successful. That success also owes much to the loyal advertisers who have enabled the magazine to grow, our printer, St Ives, who has generously provided support for the printing of this issue, and over 25 years, a startling array of talented contributors.
If you are going to take over editing Britain’s most popular art magazine, it might as well be for its 100th issue. But, I won’t pretend it hasn’t been a little daunting. It’s one thing to be surrounded by awe-inspiring works of art; it’s quite another to imagine that you are going to meet many of their creators. All I can say is, if they are all as interesting and obliging as the artists I have met so far, I need not worry.
Nigel Billen, Acting Editor
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