REMEMBERING INGRID SISCHY

The hugely celebrated arts and fashion critic, Ingrid Sischy, died last Friday, 24th July 2015 at the age of 63 after a long struggle with breast cancer.

Ingrid Sischy was more than a gifted editor and writer. Her life portrays a story of succession, of poise and of transformation. At the young age of 27, she became Editor-in-Chief of the Artforum (1979) which undoubtedly succeeded with Interview (1989), The New Yorker (1988), Vanity Fair (1997) and Conde Nast International; her journey was one of high-profile exploration that was consumed and obsessed with dissecting, reviewing, questioning – you name it, she was the pragmatic editor on top of what was about to come into the spotlight.

As a polarising figure among the magazine industry, Sischy changed the way we think and write about art, fashion and culture. Much-liked for her witty style and friendly demeanour, she was greatly admired by all – including the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein and Miuccia Prada. “She had this extraordinary command,” said close friend Calvin Klein to WWD. “She knew about everything, and yet at the same time, she was so grounded…and such a lack of any pretension whatsoever.”
 

Sischy’s First Debut

From the very beginning, Sischy made an immediate impression in her career as Editor-in-Chief. In 1980, Artforum’s first issue debuted with turbulence, as this unlikely editor-at-the-time justly imposed her critically acclaimed eye and laid her well-travelled (and impeccably gifted) hands on her first magazine cover. Ultimately, through this transition, she transformed the voice of High Art into a universal megaphone for all.

Janet Malcolm’s profile in The New Yorker, October 1986, wrote:

“When the first issue arrived on the newsstands, it caused a great stir. It was utterly unlike any previous issue of Artforum. The contributors included the photographer William Wegman, the English conceptual artist Joseph Buys, the performance artist Laurie Anderson, the editors of the radical feminist magazine Heresies and the editors of the art journal Just Another Asshole, and the whole thing had an impudent, aggressively unbuttoned, improvised yet oddly poised air…

 

…The cover of Sischy’s first issue was a reproduction of the cover of the first issue of an avant-garde magazine of the forties called VVV…Sischy had borrowed the original cover from David Hare, VVV’s former editor. Someone who had not come from John Szarkowski’s [Museum of Modern Art] photography department might not have been as overjoyed as Sischy was by the cigarette burn and the spills that stained it, but she correctly gauged the surreal beauty that these ghostly traces of pat life would assume when photographed, and also the sense of quotation marks that they would help impart to the notion of a cover about a cover.”

The Final Word

Having worked up until her death, Sischy completed her final piece for Vanity Fair titled The Boy Who Loved Chanel. The story profiles Hudson Kroenig – the seven year-old model and godson of Karl Lagerfeld and it’s now available to read online (here) two weeks before being officially unveiled in the September issue.

Sischy now leaves behind an impressive archive of interviews and stories with notable fashion designers, personalities and actors. An appreciated of Sischy’s life, work and friendship from Vanity Fair’s Editor, Graydon Carter, can be read here.