The letter, published on 19 October, calls for an immediate ceasefire to the Israeli bombing of Gaza. It criticises the "institutional silence" around the current humanitarian crisis in Palestine and advocates for Palestinian liberation. The authors of the letter are unknown.
The letter published on Artforum drew criticism, including from a number of influential figures in the art world, for initially omitting to mention Hamas's 7 October massacre that killed more than 1,400 people. On 23 October, Artforum ran an update to its letter, stating that the rejection of "violence against all civilians, regardless of their identity" included a shared "revulsion at the horrific massacres of 1,400 people in Israel conducted by Hamas on October 7th". A further addition states that the letter "reflects the views of the undersigned individual parties and was not composed, directed or initiated by Artforum or its staff". The update also made reference to the letter being signed by more than 8,000 members of the cultural community.
A number of the letter’s signatories, including the artists Peter Doig and Joan Jonas, withdrew their names following the backlash.
Artforum’s publishers, Danielle McConnell and Kate Koza, yesterday evening published a statement on the magazine's website that the publication of the letter was "not consistent with Artforum’s editorial process", and "appropriate members" of the editorial team had not been consulted.
"That the letter was misinterpreted as being reflective of the magazine’s position understandably led to significant dismay among our readers and community, which we deeply regret. It also put members of our team in the untenable position of being represented by a statement that was not uniformly theirs,” the publishers' statement reads.
According to The New York Times, following the publication of the open letter, a campaign was launched on WhatsApp to dissuade Artforum advertisers from working with the magazine.
Velasco was appointed as Artforum’s editor in 2017; he had worked at the magazine since 2005. "I have no regrets," he told The New York Times. "I’m disappointed that a magazine that has always stood for freedom of speech and the voices of artists has bent to outside pressure."
Velasco and Artforum did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE: Since this article was published, several Artforum editors have announced they are stepping down from their roles at the publication. Kate Sutton, an associate editor, and Zack Hatfield and Chloe Wyma, both senior editors, all announced via X, formerly known as Twitter, that they had resigned.