To coincide with the launch of W Magazine
annual Art Issue (and our associated sale
of works by artists like
), we were lucky
enough to catch up with Stefano Tonchi in a brief moment of quiet before the
storm that is Miami art week. In his brief tenure as Editor-in-Chief, Tonchi
has steered the focus of W
to include cutting-edge features on art,
film, fashion, and pop culture, and thrilling combinations thereof (Barbara
Kruger and Kim Kardashian, anyone?). He spoke to us about his vision for the
publication, and the inspiration behind Art Issues past and present.
Artsy: When you started as W’s Editor-In-Chief
in 2010, you announced that you’d like to shift the focus of the magazine away
from a “fashion-obsessed publication”. In what ways have you fulfilled this
hope? Can you talk about ways you’ve incorporated the visual arts within the
Stefano Tonchi: Fashion will always be the central focus of W,
but in the context of contemporary culture. In the last few years I have
particularly reinforced W's commitment to art and cinema. Not only in
every issue do we have exclusive profiles and great features, but I also
created special focus issues; every December we have the Art Issue at the time
of Art Basel in Miami Beach, and every February a Movie Issue to coincide with
the Golden Globes in Los Angeles.
I love contemporary pop culture and we try to
cover every aspect of it and to be the first at it. This year we had an
incredible story on Kanye West. We were the first to write seriously about Kim
Kardashian. We were the first to introduce our audience to Jennifer Lawrence,
Rooney Mara, Jessica Chastain, and Lea Seydoux.
Artsy: W has a long
history in supporting artists and photographers. Can you talk about some of the
most important moments in the publication’s history? How is W’s
partnership with Artsy for this year’s Art Issue in line with the magazine’s
ST: I believe that in the pages of W,
fashion photography is art. We work with the most important living
photographers including Steven Klein, Steven Meisel, Tim Walker,
…. They are artists in their own right, whose work is in galleries and
We also collaborate with many contemporary
artists. We write about them and introduce them to our very special and
educated audience. Before my time I can recall incredible art
collaborations like the
portfolios. I am very proud of my cover project collaborations; the
/Kim Kardashian, the Nicki Minaj/
/Jessica Chastain, and the
Artsy: Which spreads from past W Art Issues
have been most memorable?
ST: I like to think that the next project will be
more memorable than any in the past. I am still surprised at how we were able
to convince the most famous American actor, George Clooney, to collaborate with
five female artists for this December issue.
—each one of them is a star on her own—re-imagined George and
collaborated with him.
Most memorable in the past? I will never forget
our Skype project and limited-edition cover with
. We were working in the middle of the night in a prison facility in New
York and he was directing long distance via Skype the re-enactment of his
arrest and his torture from his studio in Beijing, where he was under house
Artsy: Why George Clooney for this year’s Art Issue?
And how were the artists participating in this issue chosen?
ST: I am a big fan of George Clooney and my
Editor-at-Large Lynn Hirschberg has direct access to him. That made it easier
to convince him. Not that he had to be convinced… he is very smart and
intellectually curious, you can see it in the films he is acting in and
directing. This fall he is in Gravity, one of the Oscar contenders for
movie of the year, and in January he is releasing The Monuments Men, a
movie about the value of art to society. When we selected the artists we
thought about female artists because he is the most loved male actor…. And we picked
artists working in different media, but still able to deliver an image that
could work in a large circulation publication.