Furor Continues as Writers and Artists Boycott Artforum After Editor’s Dismissal

The backlash to the firing of Artforum’s editor-in-chief David Velasco continues to boil. Writers and artists, many of whom have contributed to either Artforum or other Penske-owned properties in the past, have signed an open letter boycotting the outlet in retaliation.

The undersigned pledge their intention to “withdraw our future participation” in the “commercial activities” of Artforum International Magazine, ArtforumEDU, artforum.com, Art in America, ARTnews, AiA Guide and artnews.com.

Withdrawing participation includes ending “paid and unpaid subscription, contribution of writing or granting of publication rights, contribution of images or granting of image rights, purchase of advertising, consulting engagements, social media engagement and the granting of on- or off-record interviews to employees or contractors of such entities.”

Velasco was fired on Thursday, a week after the magazine published an open letter calling for a cease-fire in Gaza that did not mention the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks against Israel. The former editor-in-chief accused Artforum of having “bent to outside pressure” and told the New York Times, “I have no regrets.”

The open letter was published on Oct. 19. In it, the undersigned called “for an end to the killing and harming of all civilians, an immediate cease-fire, the passage of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the end of the complicity of our governing bodies in grave human rights violations and war crimes.”

The letter also referred to the “collective punishment” of the citizens of Gaza as a “war crime.”

The failure to condemn the Hamas attacks sparked an outcry the weekend after the letter was released. On the following Monday, an addendum was added that read, “We, the group that authored the petition — as well as a number of the signatories who have reached out in recent days — would like to repeat that we reject ‘violence against all civilians, regardless of their identity’ and share revulsion at the horrific massacres of 1,400 people in Israel conducted by Hamas on Oct. 7.”

In the wake of Velsaco’s firing, senior editor Zach Hatfield announced he was leaving the magazine. He tweeted, “I’ve resigned as senior editor of Artforum. David Velasco’s firing is unacceptable and bodes ominously for the future of the magazine. I’m sad it’s come to this but deeply grateful for the extraordinary writers, artists and colleagues I’ve worked with over the past six years.”

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