Reviewed February 2019
Jeremiah Paschke-Wood, Undergraduate Engagement & Research Librarian
University of Arizona
Burlington Contemporary is a new free web portal, offering reviews and research on international contemporary art. It is published by the long-running The Burlington Magazine, the longest-running art journal in the English language. Still something of a work in progress, Burlington Contemporary currently offers primarily reviews of art exhibits around the world. The research piece will begin in earnest in early 2019 with the release of Burlington’s online journal, which will be published three times a year and focus more on research on the world of contemporary art. According to Burlington, the journal will “present cutting-edge research on recent art, written to the highest academic standards, yet accessible to a wide international audience.”
Even without the journal, the site offers a pleasant and well-organized visual experience befitting an art journal. Links to the Reviews and Journal appear on the left-hand side, along with familiar elements, such as a link to a short About page and a link to the Burlington Magazine Shop page. Currently, the search function does not yet appear to be functional. From the home page, the three most recent articles published on the site are showcased with large images, followed by other published works below in a more standard row of four items, also accompanied by images. Clicking on the Reviews link takes researchers to a page layout similar to the homepage consisting entirely of reviews of exhibits. Without the extra content that will come with time (and the addition of the journal), it remains to be seen how other content will be exhibited on the site. Clicking on the Journal link takes researchers to two articles focused on the creation of Burlington Contemporary.
Reviews on the site are well-written, detailed and include several images of the art contained in the exhibit. Each review is followed by a short information box detailing the location and dates the exhibit is available, followed by any information on a book released by the artist (or about the exhibit) if available, the information on the author of the review. Exhibition reviewers appear to be split roughly evenly between faculty, researchers and lecturers, writers and art critics, and artists.
Reviews are well-written and often capture the humanity of the reviewer in interesting ways - not dry statements of art history intertwined with information on the exhibit, they are written simply as visitors to the exhibition but nonetheless backed up with enough solid background information and content that researchers will no doubt be happy with the information. The images of the exhibitions are often stunning, of course.
Coming from such a respected pillar of art criticism and review as the Burlington Magazine, it’s no surprise that the content on Burlington Contemporary is interesting, well-written and researched. However, until the journal is published and more content is added to the site, it’s impossible to give a complete review of how this site will be beneficial for students and researchers in art. The exhibition reviews are interesting and contain quite a bit of insight into how useful the exhibits are, but at this point, the site is a little one-note. It’s not surprising that having an open portal for Reviews and some art criticism won’t have as much content as a subscription-based journal. I have no doubt, though, that when more content is added to the site and the journal is released, particularly as a free publication, it will prove to be a very useful resource for art researchers, students and librarians.