Part of my job as an intern at the Frick Art Reference Library this past summer entailed looking through the periodicals collection—more specifically, assessing the condition of old magazines, journals, and newspapers. After examining dozens of publications, I concluded that nothing is more telling of a time or generation than the advertisements, headlines, editorial opinions, and photographs contained within their pages, including the documenting of artists and artworks through text and images.
As we were brainstorming a name for our Library exhibition of contemporary experimental magazines, Millennium Magazines stuck because of its concise alliteration. The name also specifically isolates this recent period of time - post-Y2K - where these publications have been flourishing despite constant conversations about the end of print culture. Working in a library, this is a particularly hot topic as we think about the future and how best to accommodate new modes of publishing. The exhibition, now on view at MoMA in the Lewis B. Cullman Education building at 4 W 54th St., aims to complicate this assumption that print is dead.
Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing was founded in 1976 by Leonard Koren in Venice, CA. The first issue in May/June of that year was a modest 8 ½” x 11” black and white paper pamphlet. In this issue, Koren introduces the magazine to his audience: “Wet is a magazine devoted to upgrading the quality of your bathing experience. Hopefully, in the great American tradition of Coca Cola, doggie diapers and Pet Rocks, Wet will become one of those things you never imagined you needed until you find you can’t live without it.” Early issues of Wet include articles about bathing, showering, hot tubs, personal hygiene, food, and yoga. Two of my favorite articles include "Toothpaste Ratings" in no.2(1977:Dec./Jan.) and "Frozen Dinners" in no.4(1977). Both of these articles highlight the humorous, playful, and arty attitude of the magazine.