Ingrid Barbara Sischy (/siː'sʃi/) (March 2, 1952 – July 24, 2015) was a South African-born American writer and art critic who focused on art, photography, and fashion, and was most well known as the editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine from 1989 until 2008 as well as her powerful connections and friendships with many in the art community. Until her death in 2015, she and her girlfriend and partner, Sandra Brant, worked together as the international editors of the Italian, Spanish, and German versions of Vanity Fair.
Sischy was born to a Jewish family in Johannesburg to Ben Sischy, a family doctor who became an expert in radiation oncology, and Claire Sischy, a speech therapist. She had two older brothers, Mark Sischy, a lawyer who lived in Scotland, and David Sischy, a doctor. Her family was Jewish; they had Lithuanian ancestry.
In 1961, when Sischy was nine years old, the Sischy family left Apartheid-era South Africa after the Sharpeville massacre and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where Dr. Sischy retrained in radiology (after being a family doctor for 20 years). The family had to leave South Africa because Sischy's mother, who was involved in a group called the Black Sash that non-violently protested Apartheid, was in danger of being arrested. In 1967, the family moved to Rochester, New York, where Sischy's father became the head of radiation oncology at Highland Hospital.
While in Scotland, she attended George Watson's Ladies College. In Rochester, she graduated from Brighton High School, where she was the president of the senior class. Sischy started college at Sarah Lawrence College during a time of great political unrest in the United States.
During her college years, she came out as a lesbian, and took writing classes with Grace Paley. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence in 1973. She received an honorary PhD in the humanities from the Moore College of Art in 1987.
After graduating from college, Sischy worked in entry level positions in the art world in galleries and odd jobs, then became circulation coordinator at Print Collector's Newsletter, an art world industry resource. She worked her way up to be an editor, contributing articles that were reviews of works she saw in the burgeoning New York City art world. For a very short time she worked at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, but said she was fired and felt stifled by the dress code, where she felt like she was undercover, not true to herself. She then worked at Printed Matter, Inc, a nonprofit book publisher that introduced her to artists like Sol LeWitt, Jenny Holzer, and many up and coming artists.
Museum of Modern Art
In 1978, Sischy interned at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) under a National Endowment for the Arts curation grant, where she focused on curating photography exhibits, one called "In the Twenties: Portraits From the Photography Department", and another on photographer Ansel Adams. During this time, she was mentored by John Szarkowski. the Director of the Department of Photography at MoMA.
In 1979, at the age of 27, Sischy was hired to be editor of Artforum magazine by businessman and publisher Anthony Korner and Amy Baker Sandback. From what had been a staid and relatively conservative art journal, Sischy tapped into the vibrant art scene and created innovative, avant-garde covers and content that created a new standard for art magazines, with content often written by fellow artists. She was at Artforum for nine years. During her time at Artforum, Sischy became a powerful force in the art world.
The New Yorker
She left Artforum in 1988 to become a consulting editor at The New Yorker and work on in-depth research on the AIDS virus, which had begun to decimate the downtown artist community. From 1988-96, she worked at The New Yorker, reporting on fashion and art.
In 1989, Sischy took over as editor of Interview, a downtown magazine founded by Andy Warhol in 1969. During her tenure at Interview, covers of the magazine became iconic, promoting artists, actors, and fashion icons from the art world.
In 1996, she was named Artistic Director of the inaugural Florence Fashion Biennale, where she created an exhibition that showed work in 20+ museums in the Florence, Italy area. Part of this exhibition was later presented at the Guggenheim Museum Soho.
Vanity Fair (magazine)|Vanity Fair
Sischy was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair from 1997 until her death in 2015. She was the international editor of Condé Nast, writing for the Spanish, French, and Italian versions of Vanity Fair, and the German and Russian versions of Vogue.
Sischy was a member of an all-female art band called Disband, founded in 1978 by artists and writers. She was featured in the 2011 documentary film called !Women Art Revolution, where she discussed her contributions to the feminist movement of female artists in the 1970s.
She was a widely published author on a range of cultural subjects. She contributed to a broad range of periodicals, including The New York Times and Vanity Fair and was at one time the fashion and photography critic for The New Yorker.
Although she was in at least one long-term relationship with women from the time she was in college, it was a The New Yorker review of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe photography show, "The Perfect Moment," where Sischy came out publicly as a lesbian.
Brant was formerly married to Brant Publications' owner, Peter M. Brant, who was the publisher of Interview Magazine. Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brant lived in Montauk, the farthest point east on the southern shores of Long Island, in a cottage designed by Stanford White, and in a town house in Greenwich Village. They were godmothers to Elton John and David Furnish's son.
Works and publications
- Mapplethorpe, Robert, Ingrid Sischy, Richard Howard, and Richard Marshall. Robert Mapplethorpe. London: Secker & Warburg, 1991. ISBN 978-0-436-27361-2 OCLC
- Wegman, William, and Ingrid Sischy. Fashion Photographs. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1999. ISBN 978-0-810-92944-9 OCLC
- Sischy, Ingrid. Albert Watson: The Vienna album. Munich: Schirmer Mosel, 2005. ISBN 978-3-829-60215-0 OCLC
- Sischy, Ingrid. Donna Karan, New York. New York: Assouline, 2005. ISBN 978-2-843-23713-3 OCLC
- Sischy, Ingrid. Created Equal: Mark Laita. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008. ISBN 978-3-865-21709-7 OCLC
- Von Unwerth, Ellen, and Ingrid Sischy. Fräulein. 2009, 2015. ISBN 978-3-836-55556-2 OCLC
Selected feature articles
- Sischy, Ingred. "." The New Yorker. November 13, 1989.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Interview. December 1993.
- Sischy, Ingrid and Gladys Perint Palmer. "." The New Yorker. April 1, 1996.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Vanity Fair. March 2001.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Vanity Fair. February 2002.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." The New York Times. February 23, 2003.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." The New York Times. August 27, 2006.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Vanity Fair. April 2008.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Vanity Fair. April 2010.
- Kuo, Michelle and Ingrid Sischy. "." Artforum. September 2012.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Vanity Fair. July 2013.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Vanity Fair. April 2014.
- Sischy, Ingrid. "." Vanity Fair. July 2015.
- Granet, Ilona, Donna Henes, Ingrid Sischy, Diane Torr, Martha Wilson, Barbara Ess, Daile Kaplan, Barbara Kruger, and Cornelia H. Butler. Disband: 1978–1982. Los Angeles: 2008. (video recording) OCLC
- Disband. Disband New York, NY: Primary Information, 2009. (CD) OCLC
- Hershman-Leeson, Lynn, Kyle Stephan, Alexandra Chowaniec, Spain, Krista Lynes, Claire Daigle, and Fiona Summers. W.A.R. Women Art Revolution. New York: Zeitgeist Films, 2010. (documentary) OCLC