Avalance Magazine


Avalanche was a New York–based art magazine founded and edited by Willoughby Sharp and Liza Béar from 1970 to 1976. The magazine was unique in its emphasis on the perspective of the artist rather than critics, focusing particularly on conceptual art and new forms then emerging in the United States and Europe. The magazine was notable for its rich photographic documentation of work known for its ephemeral nature.

Avalanche presented the work of dozens of up-and-coming artists, often before they had solo exhibitions in physical galleries and museums. The pages of Avalanche served, in essence, as a two-dimensional exhibition space. Béar and Sharp introduced their readers to artists like Walter De Maria, George Trakas, Lowell Darling, Jannis Kounellis, Chris Burden, Barbara Dilley, Franz Erhard Walther, Vito Acconci, William Wegman, Jack Smith, Laurie Anderson, Rita Myers, and Meredith Monk. It is also worth noting that Avalanche intentionally featured a large number of women sculptors and performance artists, especially in the later issues. Notable women artists found in the pages of Avalanche include: Joan Jonas, Alice Aycock, Trisha Brown, Colleen Fitzgibbon, and Hanne Darboven.

Each issue included artist interviews, extensive photographic spreads, and textual documents of various artists’ works. Additionally, each issue (except for issues no. 6 and no. 9) included a “Rumbles” section, which promoted and described current art world events as well as recent publications and artist messages. The magazine also exposed the social environment in which Avalanche artists circulated. For example, several issues include advertisements for popular watering holes and eateries for the growing New York art community. Downtown institutions like Max’s Kansas City, Fanelli’s, and FOOD, the cooperative conceptual art restaurant founded by Caroline Goodden, Tina Girouard, Suzanne Harris and Gordon Matta-Clark, all had an advertising presence in the magazine. Béar and Sharp also chose to include some political content in the pages of Avalanche. Questions surrounding artist rights and institutional practices were of particular concern. Issue number eight, for example, discussed its support of a 1973 union strike at The Museum of Modern Art.

The thirteenth and final issue of Avalanche was published in the summer of 1976. Production ceased largely due to finacial strains. Béar and Sharp were transparent about the magazine’s economic troubles by choosing to reproduce a page of their ledger book on its final cover.