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New Little Magazines I: The Modernist Magazine

[THIS WEEK] The Modernist is a welcome addition to architecture’s small press scene, writes James Pallister

Like a well-loved, elderly dog that refuses to die, small press publishing continues to live on within the UK architecture scene. The last six months have seen the consolidation of several Little Magazines, to borrow Beatriz Colomina’s phrase, flying the flag for what’s often called a dead medium. Last week Rob Wilson, the RIBA’s former exhibitions curator, launched the second edition of Block magazine, joining last summer’s first issue, which featured contributions from Peter Blundell Jones, Jonathan Sergison, Wolfgang Tillmans and Arthur Rüegg.

Another mag which recently celebrated its second issue is P.E.A.R, a black and white newsprint affair which hit the specialist bookshop shelves in May. Though there’s one crossover of contributors – Pablo Bronstein appears in both titles – in spirit and its approach P.E.A.R is the younger and more experimental of these two London-based titles.

And now to Manchester, where Jack Hale and Maureen Ward have recently published the inaugural issue of their mag The Modernist. Despite its subject matter, it’s free from the strait-laced rigour of classic graphic design modernism. There are a few instances of slab serifs and some slightly unorthodox glyphs used to good effect. Page three’s foreword begins with a menacing snap of bespectacled critic Jonathan Meades – all tinted black frames, big collar, penetrating stare and swished back hair – and kicks off the publication with a pleasingly spunky conceit.  ‘A magazine devoted to the furtherance of modernism ought not to defend… [that] which requires no defence. Rather it should ridicule the aesthetic feebleness of its opponents. It should mock their timidity, put the boot in with disdain.’ Meades’ crackly prose is great stuff: he talks of the Victorian ‘laudanum-dosed wild men’; and laments that ‘after each bout of farouche energy British architecture lapses back into cautious insipidity’. An engaging series of articles, many written in a cheerily demotic tone, follow. It’s an excellent newcomer to British architecture’s small press scene. You should go and order a copy.

More Little Magazines here

The Modernist, Issue No 1, Bold, £3.75, www.the-modernist-mag.co.uk

Readers' comments (1)

  • Thanks for the kind review. I like to think my uneducated ramblings come under the "cheerily demotic tone" category but i must assure prospective readers that we have at least three proper academics on board who hopefully provide a bit of intellectual light and shade.
    We have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest in The Modernist, and not just from the geographic region we currently cover, and the ambition is to slowly expand the remit so the whole of the country is eventually covered.
    There seems to be a great appetite for what we initially thought to be quite a delphic subject and i hope we are proving that there is much of architectural interest outside the obvious usual subjects in the south east.*

    *obligatory provincial dig at London.

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