Four Artforum staffers have resigned after David Velasco, the publication’s former editor, was fired this week.
On Friday, Kate Sutton, an associate editor at Artforum since 2018, announced on X that she had officially resigned. On Saturday, Zack Hatfield and Chloe Wyma, both of whom were senior editors at Artforum, also announced that they had resigned. ARTnews has also learned that a contributor who did editing for Artforum has severed ties with the publication.
“The firing of David Velasco violates everything I had cherished about the magazine and makes my work there untenable,” Wyma wrote on X.
Meanwhile, prominent artists Nan Goldin and Nicole Eisenman told the New York Times that they would no longer work with Artforum, with Goldin describing the current environment as the most “chilling period” she’s ever lived through.
Velasco’s firing came after Artforum published an open letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza on October 19. The letter, signed by thousands of artists, also appeared in e-flux and Hyperallergic, and had circulated as a Google document before it was published on those websites and Artforum. Velasco, along with several other members of Artforum’s staff, signed the letter, although it is still unclear who initially wrote it.
“We support Palestinian liberation and call for an end to the killing and harming of all civilians, an immediate ceasefire, 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 published on Artforum reads.
After the letter was published, it became the subject of blowback, with dealers Dominique Lévy, Brett Gorvy, and Amalia Dayan writing a statement on Artforum in which they condemned it for failing to mention the Hamas attack on October 7 that killed 1,400 Israelis and involved the taking of 200 hostages.
Another letter signed by major dealers and artists also began to circulate; its subject was an “uninformed letter” in an unnamed publication, and it made a call for “empathy” after the Hamas attack. That second letter did not mention the thousands of Gazans who have been killed by Israeli airstrikes, as reported by the local health ministry.
As pressure mounted, Artforum’s letter continued to shift, with added texts mentioning “revulsion” over the Hamas attack and a preface that the letter “was not composed, directed, or initiated by Artforum or its staff.” Some names also dropped from the signatories.
Artforum publishers Danielle McConnell and Kate Koza put a post on the Artforum website earlier this week saying that the letter was posted to the site and to social media “without our, or the requisite senior members of the editorial team’s, prior knowledge,” and that doing so was “not consistent with Artforum’s editorial process.”
After he was fired, Velasco, who became editor in 2017, told the Times, “I have no regrets. I’m disappointed that a magazine that has always stood for freedom of speech and the voices of artists has bent to outside pressure.”
Penske Media Corporation, which owns both ARTnews and Artforum, did not respond to a request for a comment.