I liked a profile of Tom Otterness, a whimsical artist who even designed a Humpty Dumpty float for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade last year. It's nice to see that good whimsy can make money: the magazine reports that his bronzes sell for up to $200,000, and his monumental sculptures for up to $1 million.
The back of the magazine contains some of the most interesting material, reviews from gallery shows in New York, elsewhere in the country and overseas. The first New York review, from the China Institute, has nothing to do with contemporary art. It's about an exhibition of Ming Dynasty porcelain from the first part of the 17th century that was created explicitly for the Japanese market, using simple rustic motifs then popular in Japan and very different from traditional Chinese designs. Oddly, this "rustic movement" in the Japanese art world of the time was caused by intense dislike of what were considered considered "ostentatious" Chinese porcelains imported in previous centuries!
Some of today's gallery shows are truly weird. In one from New York, reviewer Sean Kelly reports that performance artist Marina Abramovic used a video to explain what she claims are Serbian peasant sexual rituals to ward off evil spirits or attract a mate. An example of the latter: "A small fish stuffed into the vagina overnight and then ground up into the intended's coffee apparently works wonders."
As with virtually all art publications, a main attraction in ARTnews is the advertising, where you can see what's being featured in galleries today. The range of imagery is vastly entertaining.