X-TRA | Contemporary Art Magazine


X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly (X-TRA) is an independent visual arts journal that focuses on criticism and conversation about contemporary art. X-TRA was founded in Los Angeles in 1997 by artists Stephen Berens and Ellen Birrell and is published quarterly by the non-profit Project X Foundation for Art and Criticism. The magazine is the longest running art publication in Los Angeles.

X-TRA journal publishes features, reviews, columns, interviews, and artist projects. The artist-driven magazine produces exclusive online content and public programs in addition to its print publication. X-TRA’s audience includes a broad range of practicing artists, art curators, art dealers, critics and writers, the general art audience, and students.


1990’s–1997: Early years and first publication

In Los Angeles in the late ’90s, friends and artists Stephen Berens and Ellen Birrell formed Project X, an art curatorial collective. To accompany each exhibition organized by Project X, the group printed newsprint exhibition catalogs that documented the exhibitions and included additional essays and images of interest.

Noticing the lack of lasting art publications in Los Angeles and limited sources of art criticism outside of the mainstream, Berens and Birrell evolved the scope of Project X to include X-TRA, a publication intended to diversify and broaden the dialogue around contemporary art in LA. Berens and Birrell published the first issue of X-TRA in spring of 1997 with co-founders Jan Tümlir and Jérôme Saint-Loubert Bié. From its initiation, X-TRA has worked collaboratively through an editorial board of volunteer artists and writers.

2002–present: Project X Foundation and funding

In 2002, artist and X-TRA publisher Jeff Beall helped create the Project X Foundation for Art and Criticism, a 501c3 non-profit organization, to fund and publish the quarterly magazine. Artist Shana Lutker currently serves as the Executive Director of Project X.

Once surviving on little to no budget, X-TRA is now the recipient of grants from foundations and organization including the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (2007), National Endowment of the Arts, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Getty Foundation, and the Pasadena Art Alliance.


According to Birrell, the magazine’s unique spelling of “extra” stems from an idea of only publishing “an issue when [the editors] had a great piece of writing to run, that it would be an extra edition to a publication that didn’t otherwise exist.”

Executive Editors

Elizabeth Pulsinelli (2007–)

Founding editors

Stephen Berens, Ellen Birrell, and Jan Tümlir (Spring 1997–2007)

Source: Wikipedia

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