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Aesthetica Issue 86.jpg
Cover of Aesthetica, Issue 86, 2019
EditorCherie Federico
CategoriesArt, Photography, Film, Music, Performance, Architecture, Design
PublisherCherie Federico, Dale Donley
Year founded2002
First issue2003
CompanyAesthetica Magazine Ltd
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inYork

Aesthetica is an international art and culture magazine, founded in 2002. The magazine is published bi-monthly and covers contemporary art from around the world, featuring photography, exhibitions, visual art, fashion, architecture, design, film, music and performance. The magazine offers a respected opinion on visual art and culture.[1] It has a print and digital readership of over 340,000 and national and international distribution.[2] Cherie Federico, Managing Director and Editor of Aesthetica was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2008.[3]


Aesthetica was founded by Cherie Federico and Dale Donley, when they were students at York St John: A College of the University of Leeds (now York St John University) in 2002.[4]

In 2003 the magazine received distribution at Borders. In 2006 editor Cherie Federico won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.[5][6] In 2007, the magazine began to be stocked in WHSmith high-street stores and in major galleries including the ICA, Tate and National Portrait Gallery in London, Arnolfini in Bristol and the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow.[7][8]

In 2009, Aesthetica significantly increased its distribution network and is now stocked at major airports and train stations nationwide, department stores such as Selfridges and Harrods and is exported to over 20 countries worldwide.[9]


Aesthetica includes features on art, design, architecture, fashion, film, music and performance, highlighting notable new exhibitions around the world and showcasing contemporary photography, from emerging to established practitioners. The publication covers work by leading artists such as Steve McQueen, Martin Creed,[10] Ai Weiwei,[11] Jenny Holzer,[12] Alex Prager[13], Stephen Shore,[14] Joel Meyerowitz[15], Cindy Sherman[16], Vivianne Sassen[17], amongst others.

Articles have explored a wide range of international and thought-provoking subjects such as the intersection between art and politics,[18] the marriage of fashion and technology[19], contemporary minimalist design[20] and architectural innovation.[21]


A large section of the magazine is dedicated to photography and has featured photo essays from world-renowned artists such as Richard Tuschman and Stephen Shore.[22] It has also published photography by the likes of Julia Fullerton-Batten, Maia Flore, Carolina Mizrahi, Formento & Formento, Ryan Schude, Natalia Evelyn Bencicova, Maria Svarbova, Kevin Cooley, Emily Shur, Miles Aldridge and Michael Wolf.

Recent cover photographers include creative duos Sally Ann & Emily May, JUCO, Yossi Michaeli, Eugenio Recuenco, Daniel Korzewa, Jacques Olivar and Jimmy Marble.


Aesthetica covers the latest exhibitions opening around the world at major art institutions. Previous editorial features have covered Hello, my name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum, London; What is Luxury? at the V&A, London; the Future of Fashion is Now at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Frank Gehry's retrospective at Centre Pompidou; Mona Hatoum's retrospective at Tate Modern; a collection of Pierre Paulin's designs at Centre Pompidou; Jenny Holzer's site-specific commission at MASS MoCA; Anthony McCall at The Hepworth, Ai Weiwei at Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Gregory Crewdson at The Photographers' Gallery; The Future Starts Here at the V&A, and Björk Digital at Somerset House[23]. The 10 to See section showcases some of the best upcoming exhibitions globally.


With urban development, sustainability, geopolitics and adaptability as core interests for the architecture features, previous articles have included coverage on Frank Gehry,[24] Venice Biennale,[25] Bernard Tschumi,[26] the Chicago Architecture Biennale,[27] the Serpentine Pavilions and the RIBA Stirling Prize.[28]


Aesthetica often publishes full features on design, considering social spaces, domestic solutions and 21st century practices. Previous features have provided coverage on the London Design Biennale,[29] the Shanghai Expo, the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair and Surface Design Show,[30] as well as articles based on new releases from Prestel Publishing and Thames and Hudson.


With features that look at sustainability, avant-garde design, minimalism, androgyny and technology, the fashion articles look towards contemporary solutions to the fashion industry. Notable names and institutions to have been featured include designers from London Fashion Week, Iris van Herpen,[31] Viktor & Rolf[32], Pauline van Dongen, Crafting Plastics! and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.[33]


The film section in Aesthetica reviews and explores new films, with a focus on works of artistic merit. Films covered include works by Alice Lowe, Ben Wheatley,[34] Richard Ayoade,[35] Atiq Rahimi[36] and Michel Gondry.

Films reviewed by Aesthetica include BAFTA winning Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski, BAFTA-nominated ‘71 by Yann Demange and Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s 20,000 Days on Earth following the life of Nick Cave, which won the Editing Award and the Directing Award at Sundance in the World Cinema Documentary category.[37]

The film section also often explores film festivals[38] and interviews festival programmers, cinematographers, directors, writers and more.[39]


Aesthetica's music section offers an insight into a wide variety of genres and musicians. Topics covered include manipulating found sounds,[40] creating music from video games,[41] the rise of YouTube and the evolution of the music video.[42] Other subjects include opera, dance music, instrument design, musical comedy, production and packaging[43] as well as interviews with award-winning musicians such as Alt-J[44], CHRVCHES, Chelsea Wolfe and Anna of the North.[45]

Last Words[edit]

At the end of each magazine is the section Last Words, which features work and a statement by a prominent artist. Previous artists include Cornelia Parker[46], Julio Le Parc, Marie Hald, Chiharu Shiota and Do Ho Suh.

Artists' Directory[edit]

Aesthetica also offers the Artists' Directory network for emerging and established practitioners. This provides an opportunity for artists to connect with art collectors and gallerists.


Aesthetica Short Film Festival[edit]

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is hosted by Aesthetica. It is an international film festival which takes place annually for five days in York, UK, at the beginning of November. The festival – which was launched in 2011 – is a celebration of independent short film from around the world, and an outlet for supporting and championing short filmmaking. It is a BAFTA recognised film festival.[47] The programme includes film screenings, masterclasses, hosted networking sessions and panel discussions.

The festival opens for entries each year on 1 December and closes on 31 May. ASFF welcomes film submissions from emerging and established filmmakers from around the world. It accepts short films with a running time no longer than 30 minutes in all genres, including: Advertising, Animation, Artists’ film, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Experimental, Fashion, Music Video and Thriller.

As of 2018, the festival accepts VR and Feature Films over 60 minutes, including Narrative and Documentary strands. Embracing the future of new technologies and advancements in cinema, the festival is also introducing York's first VR Lab and pitching sessions with distributors.

Showcase Screenings[edit]

Welcoming a dynamic array of organisations from across the UK, the Special Showcase Screenings provide audiences with an opportunity to view some of the best and brightest works being produced by emerging filmmakers.[48] Organisations attending the 2017 festival include London Film School, York St John University, The Northern Film School, Middlesex University, Creative England, Plymouth College of Art and London College of Fashion.[49]

Networking Events[edit]

Meet the Film Festivals Marketplace[edit]

Meet the Film Festivals Marketplace provides an opportunity for filmmakers to expand their industry contacts and speak with the programmers who are behind some of the top UK, European and international festivals. Delegates for 2017 include British Urban Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, Encounters, IWM Short Film Festival and Sheffield Doc / Fest.[50]

Meet the Filmmakers Social[edit]

Meet the Filmmakers Social invites filmmakers and guests to network with artists from the Official Selection.

Industry Sessions[edit]

ASFF Industry Sessions bring together leaders from across the film sector. Topics range from directing, funding and producing to editing, cinematography and visual effects. 2017 delegates include Andi Osho, BBC, Jaime Estrada-Torres, Head of Editing at London Film School, Thunderbird Releasing, StudioCanal, British Vogue, i-D, and BFI.[51]

Aesthetica Art Prize[edit]

The Aesthetica Art Prize is an annual award, established in 2007. The prize provides a platform for artists to showcase their work to a wider audience and further their involvement in the international art world.

Prizes include £5,000, a group exhibition in partnership with York Museums Trust; publication in an anthology of 100 contemporary artists and editorial in Aesthetica magazine.[52]

The winner of the Main Prize for 2018 was David Birkin with Profiles; the winner of the Emerging Prize was Electra Lyhne-Gold with Lost in Translation.[53]

Previous finalists include Rachel Ara, whose work has gone on to be included in the 2018 London Open at Whitechapel Gallery, Liz West, John Keane, former official British war artist (1991);[54] Julia Vogl, also shortlisted for New Sensations – Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4′s Prize; Ingrid Hu, former designer at the Lubetkin-winning Heatherwick Studio; Marcus Jansen, a leading modern expressionist; Bernat Millet, also shortlisted for National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, Damien O'Mara whose winning work was acquired by Gold Coast City Gallery.[55]

The Art Prize is judged by a panel of industry leaders. For the 2015 exhibition it included artist Anna Vogel; Senior Curator of Art at York Art Gallery, Jenny Alexander; Managing Director of Flowers Gallery, Matthew Flowers; Professor Rob Dickins, CBE; Curator at the Hepworth Wakefield, Dr Sam Lackey; Artistic Director at HOME, Sarah Perks and Independent Advisor and Curator of the Hiscox Collection, Whitney Hintz.

The judges for the 2016 exhibition include Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs Collection at the National Portrait Gallery; Alex Newson, Senior Curator at the Design Museum; Dr Sam Lackey, Curator at The Hepworth Wakefield; Karin Askham, Dean of School of Media, London College of Communication; Clare Lilley, Director of Programme, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Pavel S. Pyś, Exhibitions & Displays Curator, Henry Moore Institute; John Keane, Aesthetica Art Prize winner 2015; Whitney Hintz, Independent Advisor and Curator at the Hiscox Collection and Laura Turner, Senior Curator of Art, York Art Gallery.[56]

In 2017, the judges included Cherie Federico, Co-founder & Managing Director of Aesthetica, Whitney Hintz, Independent Advisor and Curator of the Hiscox Collection; Alistair Payne, Head of the School of Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art; Olivier Richon, Photography Lecturer, Royal College of Art; Reyahn King, Chief Executive, York Museums Trust and Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon Gallery.[57]

The judges for 2018 include Amira Gad, Exhibitions Curator at the Serpentine Galleries; Ayo Adeyinka, Director of TAFETA; Darren Pih, Exhibitions and Displays Curator, Tate Liverpool; Laurence Sillars, Head of Exhibitions at Henry Moore Institute, Maitreyi Maheshwari, Programme Director, Zabludowicz Collection; Mike Stubbs, Director, FACT, Reyahn King, Chief Executive, York Museums Trust; Steven Gartside, Curator, Holden Gallery and Cherie Federico, Director of Aesthetica.

The call for entries opens in January and closes on 31 August. The prize welcomes submissions from emerging and established artists in the following categories: Photographic and Digital Art; Three Dimensional Design and Sculpture; Painting, Drawing and Mixed-Media, and Video, Installation and Performance.[58]

Future Now: The Aesthetica Art Prize Symposium[edit]

Future Now: The Aesthetica Art Prize Symposium is a two-day event held annually at York St John University. The event presents a series of lectures, panel discussions and portfolio reviews providing networking and talent development opportunities for artists, those working in the sector and the public. The sessions are led by artists, curators, academics and representatives from major cultural institutions in the UK such as Tate, Art Fund, Arts Council England, Whitechapel Gallery, Royal College of Art, Frieze, It's Nice That, V&A, The Spectator, Serpentine Galleries, BALTIC and Glasgow School of Art.[59]

The first Symposium was first held 26–27 May 2016. Its second edition took place 25–26 May 2017. Topics included Innovation in the Making: Technology, Design and Digital; Regeneration: Metropolitan Architecture; The Future of Art Journalism; Talent Development and Art Prizes; Funding and Commissioning and the Changing Face of the Art Institution amongst others. In 2017, the event addressed how the arrival of the digital age has created an unprecedented feeling of alienation. Communication has changed and we now rely on technology to interact, presenting ourselves in ways that are evolving beyond control. The sense that the public is merging with the domestic has also spread into a larger, blurred depiction of reality. Surveillance is becoming a prevalent and inescapable issue internationally. Contemporary art is the mechanism that enables us to respond to this renewed understanding of living.[60]

The 2018 edition of the Symposium runs 17-18 May and calls into question new modes of communication, offering reflection upon the era of post-truth through discussions surrounding photography, design, sculpture, painting and journalism.[61] Topics include The Value of Design; Arts Journalism in the Digital Age; The New Language of Software; How To Get Ahead as an Emerging Artist; An Examination of Post-Truth; Risk Taking in Curation and Diversity in the Art World amongst others.

Future Now sponsors and partners include Arts Council England and York St John University.

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award[edit]

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award is an international literary prize for established and aspiring poets and writers.[62]

Prizes include publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award Annual.;[63] £500 cash prize each; a consultation with literary agent Peter Cox, Managing Director of Redhammer Management; a Full Membership to The Poetry Society; a subscription to Granta, and books courtesy of Bloodaxe Books and Vintage.

The judging panel consists of literary experts, including Arifa Akbar, journalist and literary critic and former Literary Editor of The Independent and i newspapers and poet Oz Hardwick.[64]

The call for entries opens in January and closes on 31 August. The award welcomes submissions in the categories of Poetry and Short Fiction.


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External links[edit]