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Free magazine: The Classic - A new magazine about classic photography

The magazine print sector has been hit extremely hard over the last ten years, with closures and cutbacks, but it's not all doom and gloom. Small, specialist magazines have found a way of surviving independently of the media giants. Most of the new photography magazines that are starting up are however, devoted to contemporary work and are focused on aesthetics, ideology and critical theory.  

The Classic is different, the only magazine of its kind. It's devoted to the market for classic photography. The term used to be applied to certain styles of photography and the venerated names in the history of the medium. These days, it's used as a moniker for just about everything that isn't contemporary photography. The Classic is also free, available at photography fairs and selected distribution points in the major cities and through subscription.

The magazine was founded on the 17th of December 2018, by Bruno Tartarin, the French dealer and promoter of the biannual fair Photos Discovery, and Michael Diemar, the London-based collector, consultant and writer. Tartarin explains, "I felt that the classic photography market needed a real boost, something substantial. Having thought about it for a while, I decided to start a magazine. While the web is very useful, there is nothing like holding a beautiful magazine in your hands."

So why does the classic photography market need a boost? Tartarin says, "When the modern photography market as we know it today was established around 1970, the focus was very much on works from the past, the 19th century, the Avant Garde of the interwar years. Around 2000, the focus changed and contemporary photography became increasingly dominant, at fairs, auctions and in the press. But as a photography dealer with over 20 years experience, I can tell you that it's still the classic photography, the Man Rays and the Gustave Le Grays, that underpins the whole of the photography market and gives it credibility."

 It seems somewhat extravagant to make it a free magazine but as Tartarin explains, "My ambition is to bring new people to the market, as well as rekindle enthusiasm among established collectors. There is no entrance fee at my fair, Photos Discovery, and I felt that the same spirit should be applied to the magazine."

Tartarin asked Michael Diemar to create the new magazine from scratch. Diemar says, "Bruno gave me a completely free hand, with regards to both its name and contents. I decided to call it The Classic, it described what it was about and was also memorable.  There were a number of things I wanted to avoid. I didn't want it to be an academic journal, nor did I want it to be a promotion brochure, full of articles about "golden investment opportunities" and graphs showing market expansion and price increases for individual artists. Because it wasn't the investment opportunities that turned me into a photography collector many years ago. It was the images, the prints, the Polaroids, the cased images, the wonder of the photographic object. And while books and museum exhibitions taught me a lot, they didn't provide me with nearly enough of the information I needed to operate as a collector. That information came from all the conversations I had with dealers, collectors, curators, auction experts, conservators, archivists, editors etc. And it's those kinds of conversations I have tried to replicate in the magazine."

The first issue of The Classic has lengthy interviews with leading names in classic photography, Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photography at The Victoria & Albert Museum, David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery about The Dennis Hopper Archive, the 19th century photography dealer Robert Hershkowitz about his career and his exhibition "The Essential Roger Fenton", Alex Novak about his collection of early negatives and Christophe Goeury, the French independent auction specialist. In addition, there are articles about exhibitions, processes, conservation issues, book reviews and more.

Getting the content right was a balancing act Diemar says, "The magazine had to be of interest to experienced collectors as well as first-time buyers. With regards to the latter, I didn't want to clog up the pages with basic but essential information, explaining the difference between "vintage print", "printed later" and "posthumous", supplying mounting and framing advice etc. I would have had to include that information in every issue. Instead, all that information will be supplied under "resources" on our website."

The Classic will be launched in the US at AIPAD, New York City 3-7 April
In France at Photos Discovery, Paris 13 April
In the UK at The Special Edition of The London Photograph Fair, 18-19 May

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