Grey Room

Desktop Arenas: Magazine Pieces and the Professions of the Neo-Avant-Garde

Colby Chamberlain

Dan Graham. Draft of Schema (March 1966), ca. 1967. Verso. Courtesy Dan Graham. Digital image courtesy the LeWitt Collection.


Simply defined, a magazine piece is an artwork conceived for and sited within a periodical. I discuss in this article three magazine pieces that have received less critical attention: George Maciunas’s Grand Frauds of Architecture, first published in Fluxus 1 (1964); LeWitt’s Ziggurats, from the November 1966 issue of Arts Magazine; and The Maze, Tony Smith’s contribution to the 1967 double issue of Aspen edited by Brian O’Doherty. What aligns Maciunas, LeWitt, and Smith is their professional experience outside the art world, in the field of architecture. In the mid-1950s, LeWitt (1928–2007) and Maciunas (1931–1978) both worked for large architectural firms; Smith (1912–1980) taught and practiced architecture for two decades. All three gained recognition as “artists” only in the early 1960s—not by exchanging one profession for another but, as their magazine pieces attest, by forging links between the two.