Andy Warhol launched Interview magazine in 1969; it’s still kicking around today. (The current issue features an interview with Vanilla Ice.) But an earlier publication—Warhol’s 1966 Pop Art edition of an amazingly innovative magazine called Aspen—is the one that looks, sounds, and reads like something from the future.
Aspen (“the Magazine in a Box”) was published by a former Women’s Wear Daily editor named Phyllis Johnson. (“In calling it a ‘magazine,’ ” Johnson wrote in a 1965 editor’s letter, “we are harking back to the original meaning of the word as ‘a storehouse, a cache, a ship laden with stores.’ ”) Its very lucky subscribers received packages full of prints, booklets, recordings, films, and other materials by Roland Barthes, Jean Renoir, William Burroughs, the Maysles brothers, Susan Sontag, Merce Cunningham, David Hockney, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, Lionel Trilling, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Robert Smithson, Eva Marie Saint, and other luminaries. (The seventh issue features John Lennon’s 1969 diary.) But if Aspen’s contributors list is a perfect cross section of our culture ca. the age of Aquarius, the issue that Warhol co-edited is still a standout (you’ll find, among other things, Lou Reed’s artist’s statement and a lost recording by the Velvet Underground), and it’s a perfect place to start. And while individual issues go for well over $1,000 on eBay, UbuWeb’s archived the entire run, right down to the sound files and films, online.
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