Artpolice is a serial that can be found in the Smithsonian American Art/National Portrait Gallery Library’s own collection of “little magazines,” which specializes in the forward-thinking art and aesthetics of small press publications of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. A particularly successful avant-garde underground publication, Artpolice began in 1974 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and managed to produce new issues until 1993. Much like many small press “little magazines,” Artpolice continually played with its aesthetics and printing practices. Variations in its title, size and shape, frequency of publication, color and mailing address show remained constant throughout. This made Artpolice not only incredibly difficult to catalog, but shows that its creators considered its production as well as its content a malleable source of expression.
Throughout Artpolice maintained its commitment to the tenets of underground press, keeping its price low and remaining physically amateurish, despite the lavish visuals contained within, by always appearing as a simple stapled booklet. While cartoons and poetry appeared occasionally, the emphasis was on art and design and multiple artists contributing full page works in a variety of styles to each issue.
The issues occasionally had themes, such as the “His Story” issue or “April Fool’s of Chicago Show” issue, but abiding the theme appears to be Artpolice itself. While no advertisements are featured in the publication, its pages are filled with work after work featuring the title of the publication as if the entire periodical is merely acting as an advertisement for itself. To learn more about this little magazine or others in the collection, you can visit the Smithsonian American Art/National Portrait Gallery Library. There is also a new resource guide with bibliography of useful sources and annotated list of other “little magazine” collections that is available on the Libraries website.Additional images can be viewed on the Libraries Flickr site.