Aperture | Contemporary Art Magazine


Aperture magazine, based in New York City, is an international quarterly journal specializing in photography. Founded in 1952, Aperture magazine is the flagship publication of Aperture Foundation.

The headquarters of Aperture magazine and the Aperture Foundation and Gallery are at 547 West 27th Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10001.


Aperture is published four times a year, in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. It features photographs by established and emerging photographers, as well as artists experimenting with photo-related media. Each issue is usually themed and includes writings by critics, scholars, photography practitioners, and others involved in the field of photography.



The magazine was founded in 1952 by a consortium of photographers and proponents of photography: Ansel Adams, Melton Ferris, Dorothea Lange, Ernest Louie, Barbara Morgan, Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, Dody Warren, and Minor White. It was the first journal since Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work to explore photography as a fine art. The journal’s mission, as stated in its inaugural issue:

Aperture has been originated to communicate with serious photographers and creative people everywhere, whether professional, amateur or student… Aperture is intended to be a mature journal in which photographers can talk straight to each other, discuss the problems that face photography as profession and art, share their experiences, comment on what goes on, descry the new potentials. We, who have founded this journal, invite others to use Aperture as a common ground for the advancement of photography.

Minor White was appointed by the founders to be the editor of the magazine, which was at first published out of San Francisco. The magazine’s dimensions were initially modest (9 3/8 by 6 ¼ inches), and in its first two decades the photographs discussed and published in its pages were exclusively black and white (the preferred mode of most art photographers of the era). Many early issues were loosely organized around thematic concepts (such as “The Creative Approach” [vol. 2, no. 2, 1953], “The Controversial ‘Family of Man’” [vol. 3, no. 2, 1955], and “Substance and Spirit of Architectural Photography” [vol. 6, no. 4, 1958]), or were monographic publications (the first of these was vol. 6, no. 1, 1958, on Edward Weston).[5]

In 1953 the editorial offices moved to Rochester, New York. (White joined the staff of the George Eastman House, and in 1955 began teaching at the Rochester Institute of Technology.) White was assisted with the magazine’s editorial and production tasks by Peter C. Bunnell.[6] From the outset, the magazine was appreciated by its readers as “a much needed forum for serious photographers.” In 1962, vol. 10, no. 4, a monograph on photographer Frederick Sommer, was the first of many issues to be published also as a trade book.

Aperture, Inc., became a nonprofit foundation in 1963. In 1964 Michael E. Hoffman, a former student of White, became the foundation’s publisher and executive director; he would shape the magazine and all other aspects of the foundation until his death in 2001. In 1965 Aperture launched a full-fledged book-publishing program (with Edward Weston: Photographer, The Flame of Recognition, edited by Nancy Newhall) that evolved in tandem with the magazine over the following decades. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the magazine’s production was overseen by Stevan A. Baron (who supervised the production of nearly all of Aperture’s publications until his retirement in 2003).

In 1966 Aperture’s production department was moved to New York City;[1] before the end of the decade, the foundation itself established headquarters in Millerton, New York. The magazine faced perpetual financial challenges in this period; there was discussion of ceasing publication in 1967, but White was encouraged by the creativity and business acumen of Hoffman, writing in an editorial: “When Michael Hoffman became the publisher of Aperture, its physical growth was assured and a new cycle was started.”. In 1975 Helen Levitt’s photographs of New York City were published as the first full-color portfolio in the magazine (vol. 19, no. 4, 1975). This era also included monographic issues on the work of Edward S. Curtis (vol. 16, no. 4, 1972); Clarence John Laughlin (vol. 17, nos. 3–4, 1973); and P. H. Emerson (vol. 19, nos. 1–2, 1975), as well as an issue devoted to the theme of “The Snapshot” (vol. 19, no. 1, 1974, edited by Jonathan Green).


On June 24, 1976, Minor White died of a heart attack after a prolonged illness.: 13  In the same year, with issue 77, the magazine moved to a new numbering system (no longer published in annual volumes, issues were now numbered as individual publications) and its format was enlarged to 11⅜ by 9 9/16 inches. In 1979, with issue 82, a new design by Malcolm Grear was unveiled; from this point, Aperture’s format and look remained basically unchanged for more than twenty years.

Under Michael Hoffman, Aperture was developed by editors including Carole Kismaric, Steve Dietz, Lawrence Frascella, Mark Holborn, and Nan Richardson, while Hoffman always played an integral part in each issue’s conception (and was sometimes credited as Editor on mastheads). Hoffman’s life partner of 20 years, Diane Lyon, AKA Diane Hoffman, provided assistance. Chief among a group of designers for the magazine in this period was Wendy Byrne (also a principal designer of many Aperture books).

In 1984 Aperture’s headquarters moved to a five-story brownstone at 20 East 23rd Street in New York; in 1989 the building’s second floor was transformed into the Burden Gallery, named for longtime Aperture supporter Shirley C. Burden. The 23rd Street building was Aperture’s home until 2005.

Issues of Aperture during this period were still organized around thematic concepts, such as “Swimmers”; “New Southern Photography”; “Beyond Wilderness”; or monographs of individual photographers. Most issues were edited by members of Aperture’s in-house editorial staff; others were guest-edited by outside aficionados; among the editors were Mark Holborn, Nan Richardson, and Melissa Harris. Charles Hagen was the chief editor of the magazine from 1988 to 1991.

Harris became the magazine’s principal editor in 1992; under her guidance over the following two decades Aperture would place increased focus on social issues, as well as photo-based work, film, video, and new forms of digital media. Harris furthered the magazine’s longtime practice of including writings by both photography specialists and others, with a view to widening Aperture’s audience and scope. From 1992 to 2002, Harris generally edited two issues of the magazine a year, and invited outside editors to organize and conceptualize the remaining two. Among the guest editors during this time were Rebecca Busselle, Peggy Roalf, Michael Sand, Diana C. Stoll, and Andrew Wilkes. Along with Wendy Byrne, Roger Gorman and Yolanda Cuomo were also frequently employed as issue designers in this period.

Harris and Hoffman were married in 1998. The magazine was redesigned by Cuomo with issue 159 (Spring 2000); from this point and through the next thirteen years, Cuomo remained the magazine’s art director, and issues of Aperture were no longer thematically focused. During this period, the magazine continued to explore photography in its many varied forms, as the medium underwent radical changes with the advent of digitization, the Internet, and social media.

After thirty-six years as publisher and executive director of Aperture, Michael Hoffman died unexpectedly of complications from meningitis on November 23, 2001, at the age of fifty-nine, as preparations were underway for Aperture magazine’s fiftieth anniversary. He was survived by Harris, as well as by his two children (by Katharine Carter, his first wife), Matthew Perkins Hoffman and Sarah Warren Hoffman. In Aperture 167 (Summer 2002), curator, critic, and frequent contributor to Aperture Mark Haworth-Booth observed:

Michael E. Hoffman was a brave, bold, and occasionally bloody-minded photography publisher…. Hoffman moved mountains to create marvelous publications—over 450 books and exhibition catalogs, plus more than a hundred issues of the magazine. He charmed to raise money. He cajoled and inspired authors, photographers, designers, editors, printers, and co-publishers. He was driven and visionary. He delighted and infuriated the readers of his publications and the visitors to his elegant and original exhibitions. He changed the cultural landscape and many lives for the better.


In celebration of the magazine’s jubilee year, 2002, Aperture published the book Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at 50, featuring vintage photographs as well as never-before-published works, and a comprehensive history of the magazine and the foundation by veteran Aperture contributing editor R. H. Cravens. The publication appeared also as issues 168 and 169 of the magazine. Aperture’s fiftieth anniversary was commemorated with a series of exhibitions at fifty venues throughout New York City.

In the years following Hoffman’s death, the foundation was headed by a series of interim directors, and then by Ellen Harris (2003–7) and Juan García de Oteyza (2008–10). In 2005 Aperture moved to its present location at 547 West 27th Street, in New York’s Chelsea district. In 2010 Chris Boot was named Executive Director of the foundation, beginning his duties in 2011.

Along with its print edition, Aperture began a subscriber-based online version of the magazine via Zinio with issue 201 (Winter 2010); and then via Nook with issue 207 (Summer 2012).

Since Fall 2011, The PhotoBook Review—a newsprint book-review publication—has been distributed twice a year to subscribers of Aperture, with every other issue of the magazine.

In 2012 Aperture’s sixtieth anniversary was commemorated with the publication of Aperture Magazine Anthology—The Minor White Years: 1952–1976: a collection of writings and documents from the journal’s first quarter-century of publication, edited by Peter Bunnell. The magazine’s editorial staff put plans in place for a major relaunch of Aperture, with a new focus on the changing state of photography. Melissa Harris assumed the title of Editor in Chief at Aperture Foundation, and Michael Famighetti stepped into the role of Editor of Aperture magazine.


Issue 210 (Spring 2013), titled “Hello, Photography,” inaugurated Aperture’s relaunch, with a return to thematically based issues and a new focus on photography’s contemporary practitioners and platforms. Since then, Aperture has distinguished itself from numerous other photography magazines that have emerged since 2000, with its stated aim to serve as a “guide to the world of contemporary photography that combines the finest writing with inspiring photographic portfolios.” The magazine’s current designers are Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams of the British firm A2/SW/HK; the magazine’s new format features an increased number of pages, separate sections devoted to “Words” and “Pictures” (printed on different paper stocks), and a larger trim size: 12 x 9 ¼ inches. Beginning with issue 210, the digital version of the magazine has been distributed via Kindle.

Source: Wikipedia

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