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‘We Chafed at the Restrictions’: New York Times Art Editor Discusses the History, and End, of the Inside Art Column

A look at the Inside Art column in print.COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A look at the Inside Art column in print.

COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

On Friday, the New York Times debuted a new column in its arts pages, Show Us Your Wall, which will consist of interviews with collectors from a variety of fields where they open up about how they install their art collection at home. But more notably, the Times also retired its Inside Art column, which had been a mainstay of the culture section for over two decades, a must-read for art-market participants and prognosticators every Friday (or, when it began getting posted online, Thursday evening).

“Back in the Stone Ages—July 2, 1993—Carol Vogel inaugurated Inside Art (she had a column called The Art Market that began on Nov. 1, 1991),” Barbara Graustark, the Times’ art editor, told me in an email. “There were no websites, and Carol’s dogged pursuit made the column a beacon for art news.”

We had asked for a little history of the column, and an explanation for why it was ending, despite its still-vital status as prime real estate for PR flacks trying to place stories. Graustark said that cramming a bunch of art-market nuggets into a single day had become inconvenient, especially as websites publishing market scoops (this one included) became able to put up those kinds of stories untethered to a publication schedule.

With the new reshuffling and redesign of the paper’s culture coverage, the Arts, Briefly column will now be in print six days a week, and prominently feature stories by the paper’s art correspondents.

“In later years, especially as the Internet expanded our reach, globally, we chafed at the restrictions,” Graustark said. “We wanted more. And we wanted to reach more than our thousands of devoted art-world and industry followers.”

Show Us Your Wall, which will be written by Robin Pogrebin, Randy Kennedy, and other contributors, will be shooting for a broad audience, rather than focusing on the kinds of inside-baseball items that once populated the Inside Art column. Just by nature of the types of people who let the Times investigate their collections, it looks like this new column will extend its reach far beyond the salesroom at Sotheby’s and the white cubes in West Chelsea.

“It’s a chance to get a wing-span on art focusing on people in the worlds we cover—music, art, books, dance, TV, sports and even food—that our readers are curious about,” Graustark explained. “We ask them to share their passion for art and tell us how they came to live with it. It’s really a ‘creative eye’ column, a way to come at art from many angles, including recent news from Cuba.”

The end of Inside Art comes after a series of changes to the column during the last few years, following Vogel’s 20-year run helming the weekly feature. Pogrebin was placed on the auction and art market beat in October 2015, taking over from Vogel, who left the Times in December 2014. Earlier that year, one of Vogel’s Inside Art columns appeared to lift language from a Wikipedia entry, prompting a response from the Times‘ public editor, and an internal investigation by her editors. That inquiry concluded that the use of language without attribution had been a one-off incident and appended a statement to the article, though similar issues in other stories by Vogel were discovered by The Washington Post, The Observer, and ARTnews.

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