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BerandaNewsTina Rivers Ryan Named Editor-in-Chief of Artforum

Tina Rivers Ryan Named Editor-in-Chief of Artforum

Tina Rivers Ryan, a curator, critic, and specialist in digital art, is set to leave her post at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum to become editor-in-chief of Artforum. The Summer 2024 issue will be the first published under her leadership. anginqq

“For decades, the editors at Artforum have ensured that this historic magazine has remained a trusted and indispensable resource for conversations about contemporary art and its role in the broader culture,” Ryan said in a statement. “I look forward to extending their legacy by working closely with and supporting the artists, critics, and other members of the arts community who are expanding and deepening that conversation.” 

Ryan, 40, earned her BA in art history from Harvard University and PhD from Columbia University. She joined the Buffalo AKG Art Museum’s curatorial team in 2017 after serving as a curatorial research assistant at in the modern and contemporary department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 2021, working with scholar Paul Vanouse, she curated “Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art,” a show that included Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Stephanie Dinkins, Sondra Perry, and other rising artists working in digital mediums. The following year, as the museum was gearing up to open an expansion, she created “Peer to Peer,” an online exhibition done in collaboration with the digital art platform Feral File. The project had an unusual format: the artworks included were sold to raise funds for both the museum and Feral File. anginqq

“Peer to Peer” was widely praised, with Charlotte Kent writing of it in the Brooklyn Rail, “we need shows like Peer to Peer where the curator engages meaningfully with the values that crypto art has tried to espouse, like equitable market participation, as well as those exhaustively expressed by art historians, like a rigorous tie between design and concept.”

Ryan began writing art criticism during her graduate studies, and continued to do so regularly as she became a curator. In an interview with Cornelia magazine in 2019, Ryan noted, “I was a critic before I was a curator … I thought that writing criticism would be a fun way for me to work on a much shorter time frame [than academic writing], and also a way to get some of what I was working on out into the world.”

She has been a contributor to Artforum since 2013, and, in the interview with Cornelia, specifically noted her work for the magazine: “Writing for Artforum is, in many ways, very different from writing for a general public as a curator, but it’s closer than academic writing.” Among the pieces she has written for Artforum is a 2023 essay about NFTs, which she defended as being artistic gestures worthy of study, contrary to the opinion of most critics at the time.

On X/Twitter, Ryan has gained an audience for her posts about the artistic merit of NFTs and for stumping for digital art and blockchain more broadly. In 2022 Artnet News put her on its “Innovators” list, citing her as someone who is “broadening curatorial practice to accommodate digital art, initiating the kinds of robust, nuanced conversations long afforded to more traditional media.”

She has said of her writing and curating, “I want to make things accessible without dumbing them down.”

Of her pivot from the museum world to a magazine, Ryan told Vogue magazine, which broke the news of her appointment at Artforum, “I think at this particular moment … it feels incredibly urgent to carry forward the torch of deeply researched, carefully crafted, passionate argumentation. And that is precisely the kind of writing that Artforum has always excelled at supporting and finding audiences for … [W]hat we really need are models of what it looks like to think critically, and experience deeply. And I think encountering art objects actually can be a way of training oneself to lead an examined life, to become open to and empathetic toward other perspectives.” She told Vogue that one of her goals at Artforum is to expand the magazine’s digital offerings.

Artforum publishers Danielle McConnell and Kate Koza said in a statement that Ryan is “uniquely positioned to uphold the magazine’s reputation for publishing the highest quality long-form criticism, while also contributing to a dynamic vision of audience expansion via continued digital growth and live events.” anginqq

Ryan takes the helm following David Velasco, who was fired as editor-in-chief this past October after Artforum published a version of a letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza that was signed by thousands of artists. McConnell and Koza said that the publication of the letter “was shared on Artforum’s website and social platforms without our, or the requisite senior members of the editorial team’s, prior knowledge,” and that doing so “was not consistent with Artforum’s editorial process.” Velasco claimed the publication had “bent to outside pressure.”

A press release from Artforum about Ryan’s hire emphasized the magazine’s commitment to editorial independence alongside “a set of established standards and protocols that center a rigorous editorial process, contextualization, and clear authorship, ensuring that the magazine’s fundamental integrity and editorial tenets are upheld.” In their statement about Ryan’s hire, McConnell and Koza added, “the ideas that inform artistic practice are the focal point of our work, and the magazine has long been, and will continue to be, a place in which activism and advocacy by artists and writers are proudly elevated. We want to underscore that Artforum will remain an environment of dialogue and examination of the issues that face our world through the lens of art.”

Ryans, in her interview with Vogue, promised to continue the tradition of “activism and advocacy” at the magazine, saying, “given the multiple ongoing crises that we’re facing, and that are impacting many people in the arts, I think Artforum really needs to continue to be a platform for that kind of work as part of its overall project of highlighting the conversations that are really defining contemporary art.”