Our Take —
Elephant is the baby brother in the stable that includes the lauded architecture and design titles Mark and Frame. Like its older siblings, the title is noted for strong art direction and high quality production values.
Despite the key editorial team being international and based primarily in Anglophone cultures, it nonetheless shares certain regional sensibilities with other titles by the same publishing house. This makes it a rather unusual addition to the international offer of titles covering contemporary art. For example, it’s not entirely clear why the editorial approach sees certain features highlighted: the representational, the illustrative and the decorative. Indeed, thus far, the majority of Elephant’s content has been devoted to fairly young or lesser-known artists. Many of them work with the visual languages that we more readily associate with street art, graphic design or even product design. The articles are hardly academic or intellectual and there is practically no contextualistaion of ‘the global art world’; no background info on the movers and shakers in key international institutions or behind-the-scenes information on key art world events. In fact, one gets the distinct feeling that those making Elephant are not particularly connected – or perhaps even interested in- the bigger contemporary art picture. At least not right now. However, referring to itself as ‘The Art & Visual Culture Magazine’ it would seem that these qualities are quite intentional. The term ‘visual culture’, for example, is commonly used in certain European cultural circles to denote all of those phenomena that have fundamentally arisen from popular culture rather than ‘fine art’.
All of this is relative. If you are an experienced aficionado of or work within the international contemporary art circuit, the title might feel like rather light fare; all beautiful surface and still needing to find gravitas. But, god knows its difficult enough for anyone to produce a tome of a title on contemporary art in the current climate so even the cynical should welcome this for-the-love-of-it effort. If, on the other hand, like its growing audience, your interest in contemporary art prefers something that is easy on the eye, accessible and devoid of the intellectual chicanery of more ‘serious’ art titles, then no doubt Elephant will prove exactly what you’ve been waiting for.