Writing for the art World: Style and Substance

Sotheby's Institute of Art

What are the topics?

Sotheby's Institute of Art

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About the course

Writing about art is based on a sustained practice of rigorous analysis when first encountering an art object and the subsequent composition of prose that articulates that specific artwork’s aesthetic, social, and historical value. In Writing for the Art World: Style and Substance, students engage in close study of art objects and exhibitions. By reading exemplary texts, students will master the fundamental requirements for writing about art.

The course explores writing structure, tone, and point-of-view, as well as the professional vocabulary used to intelligently describe and analyze contemporary art exhibitions. Students will work under the guidance of the instructor as well as in an exchange with fellow students via a mid-course peer workshop. This course also allows students to practice art writing by generating and revising weekly writing material such as exhibition reviews, museum wall text, artist biographies, and catalog entries. Students’ work in the course will culminate in the composition of a 1000-word essay that describes, analyzes, and critiques an exhibition which presents a strong or unique position within the context of art history or contemporary culture.

Students will learn:

  • To identify and describe the types of contemporary art writings that contribute to exhibitions, auctions, and public conversations about art.
  • To assess the vocabulary and writing techniques applicable in a variety of spheres that require a written analysis of art.
  • To create a written review which showcases your writing skills and could be used to further your career in the arts.

Sample Topics

Week 1: Introduction to Art Writing

  • Who Writes About Art, Why and How
  • The Building Blocks of Visual Writing

Week 2: The Essence of Successful Art Writing I: Tone and Structure

  • An Overview of Writings Generated by Galleries and Museums
  • Analysis of Museum Wall Texts
  • Review of What Press Releases Say and Why

Week 3: The Essence of Successful Art Writing II: Voice and Craft

  • Master Art Writers from Past and Present
  • Analyzing and Connecting with Your Subject Matter

Week 4: History and Biography

  • How to Professionally Convey Valuable, Biographical Information on Artists
  • Analyzing an Artist’s Individual Experiences and Their Social Context

Week Five: Getting to the Point

  • Focus on De Kooning: From a Formal Analysis of a Singular Work to an Exploration of the Artist
  • How De Kooning’s Work Is Reevaluated Over Time

Week Six: Seeing and Writing the World

  • Scholarly Writing for Exhibition Catalogues, Historical Books, etc
  • Formal Analysis, Artists’ Biographies, Critical Evaluation, Historic Research

Experts

Aimee Walleston

MFA, Art Criticism and Writing, School of Visual Arts BA, Writing, Literature and the Arts in Context, Eugene Lang College Aimee Walleston is New York City-based essayist and editor, who has worked for magazines including W, Interview, Jane and The Last Magazine. She has contributed reviews, ess...

Writing for the art World: Style and Substance at Sotheby's Institute of Art

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Disclaimer

Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

Read more about Business Communication

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