About the Journal

Statement of the hitherto acting editors of the „Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte“ on the foundation of the new journal „21: Inquiries into Art, History, and the Visual  – Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte und visuellen Kultur

In December 2019, five years during which the current editors of the Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte have published the magazine will end. We, Ursula Frohne, Johannes Grave und Michael F. Zimmermann, as well as Jeffrey F. Hamburger (through 2018) and Beate Fricke (post 2018), have been responsible for the journal during this time; the experience has been intense, challenging, exciting, and fulfilling. We have understood the journal as a forum serving the full spectrum of the discipline. We have, therefore, used our position in order to build up the multifaceted and diverse aspects of art history. We have been able, in difficult times, to restructure the journal’s form, increasing its relevance and significantly raising the number of submissions of the highest quality for publication. In addition to these efforts, we have aimed to secure the most professional editorial standards, a task supported by generous funding from the Rudolf-August Oetker Foundation. Like our predecessors, we have considered our role at the journal as that of temporary caretakers, whose position is understood to be trusted for a limited amount of time.

In 2015, we relaunched the journal and signaled that the Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte constantly needs to reorient and develop itself in new directions. For the coming year, we wanted to take another necessary step and publish the journal as gold open access, broadening its readership through increased accessibility and thereby also raising the publication’s visibility. Unfortunately, taking this necessary and positive step forward has led to conflicts with the journal’s publishers (the Deutsche Kunstverlag) and we have been unable to reach a consensus. We have, therefore, been obliged to make the decisions to resign at the end of 2019. We have taken this step with a heavy heart, not least because we fear that this will lead to an uncertain future for one of the most important journals in the discipline of art history. The nature of the conflict over the future direction of the journal, however, between us and the publishers is accompanied by significant personal risks on the part of the editors. Thus, we sadly see no alternative.

Although our tenure as editors of the Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte will end under unpleasant circumstances, we look back at our years at the helm of the journal with much gratitude. We must thank the countless colleagues who have contributed to the forum through articles, reviews, recommendations, and a rich array of encouragements to look in new directions. This is what enabled us to successfully steer an innovative course for the publication we value so greatly. These diverse contributions are to thank for the journal’s – still today – stellar reputation. We must also thank the Rudolf-August Oetker Foundation and the University of Bielefeld for their continued support. Jens Möbius and Rüdiger Kern, also, must be thanked for their collaboration in designing and formatting the journal; a special thanks also to our editorial team, initially led by Britta Hochkirchen and, since 2017, Antonia Putzger. Together with our secretary Silke Becker and numerous student assistants they have played a crucial role in these often underestimated editorial capacities; they have provided support, ideas, and an always conscientious and much-needed (and appreciated) hand in the editorial process.

We remain convinced that art history greatly benefits from the incredible diversity of objects, research methods and questions that come together to form our discipline. We, therefore, also believe that the discipline deserves and indeed demands a mode of publication in keeping with the times and with the diverse needs of a broad readership: this mode is available only by providing our broad readership with gold open access.

We have thus decided to found a new journal. This journal is called 21: Inquiries into Art, History, and the Visual – Beträge zur Kunstgeschichte und visuellen Kultur. And we have been able to bring Karen Lang and Avinoam Shalem on board as co-editors. As the title announces, the journal’s approach exceeds the traditional boundaries of art history and aims to integrate all aspects of visual culture, including visual phenomena and practices in areas not traditionally encompassed by limiting notions of art. As in our previous work with the publication, it will be essential for us to publish contributions that are both methodologically and theoretically informed and relevant beyond the canonization of discrete objects of interest to a bounded audience of specialists. All contributions will continue to be subject to a double blind peer review evaluation process. A particular effort will be made to value the multi-lingual and intercultural aspect of our discipline, which is why the journal will accept contributions in English, German, French, and Italian. Our review section also encourages discussions of books written in a language different than the review.

Our goal will only be realized successfully if we are able to build on the trust of colleagues in the discipline, the same trust that buttressed up to now our work for the Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte. We, therefore, ask your support in establishing  this new, valuable, international forum for art history accessible through gold open access. Send us articles, contribute reviews, and – not least – lend your critical attention as a reader to 

21: Inquiries into Art, History, and the Visual — Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte und visuellen Kultur.

Sincerely,
Beate Fricke, Ursula Frohne, Johannes Grave and Michael F. Zimmermann as well as the cofounders of the new journal, Karen Lang and Avinoam Shalem.