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Sotheby's Institute of Art

Practical Guide to Writing About art

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Writing skills are fundamental to developing a career in the art world today. Designed for those who wish to learn more about the various aspects of writing about art, from exhibition materials to analytical reports, this course facilitates interactive discussions as it encourages participants to express their ideas with clarity, concision and literary elegance. A combination of lectures and workshops, the course will be taught in English, and a working knowledge of written and spoken English is essential.


Course Schedule
Course Schedule
Sotheby's Institute of Art

From Idea to Submission: Writing for the art World

Next dates

Oct 30—Dec 10, 2019
USD 1485


Art may go beyond words, but it also demands to be documented, discussed, and better understood through written language. Writing for the Art World: From Idea to Submission explores a range of writing styles and genres, from artist’s statements and proposals to press releases, catalogue entries, and short and long-form criticism.

Through practice exercises and workshop-style critiques, this course guides you to express your ideas about art with clarity and style. By requiring weekly writing assignments with one-to-one feedback, you move through the various stages of developing a text, from idea to submission. This hands-on approach provides you with the diverse writing techniques necessary for translating visual art into written language, as well as the practical strategies for communicating more effectively with potential audiences. You also review significant texts on art, from poetic statements to critical analyses.

The course is taught in English, and a good, working knowledge of written and spoken English is required.

What you will learn:

  • A familiarity with major critical texts and debates in art writing.
  • The ability to generate ideas and expand them into a publishable text.
  • Mastery of effective composition and editing techniques.
  • A developed essay in the format of your own choosing.

Sample Topics

Week 1: Introduction: How should art writing be?

  • A discussion of the various genres and professional contexts of art writing
  • Reader expectations of each genre

Week 2: Writing well: Mechanics, structure, and organization

  • An introduction to techniques that will bring strength and clarity to sentences and paragraphs
  • How to structure arguments for maximum impact

Week 3: Attention: How language structures seeing

  • An overview of methods of formal analysis
  • How they apply to exhibition reviews, long-form essays, and artists’ writings

Week 4: Style: Say what you mean and mean what you say

  • A debate on the controversial difference between specialized art vocabularies and obscure art jargon
  • Methods for finding and refining your own voice

Week 5: The Art Review and the Interview

Week 6: Personal and Professional Practices: From creative blocks to pitching ideas

  • A workshop-style module on the daily practice of writing
  • Dealing with creative blocks
  • Ways of expanding an idea into creative formats
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