How to write about contemporary art / Gilda Williams.

  • Williams, Gilda
  • Books

About this work


How to Write About Contemporary Art is the definitive guide to writing engagingly about the art of our time. Invaluable for students, arts professionals and other aspiring writers, the book first navigates readers through the key elements of style and content, from the aims and structure of a piece to its tone and language. Brimming with practical tips that range across the complete spectrum of art-writing, the second part of the book is organized around its specific forms, including academic essays; press releases and news articles; texts for auction and exhibition catalogues, gallery guides and wall labels; op-ed journalism and exhibition reviews; and writing for websites and blogs. In counselling the reader against common pitfalls such as jargon and poor structure, Gilda Williams points instead to the power of close looking and research, showing how to deploy language effectively; how to develop new ideas; and how to construct compelling texts. More than 30 illustrations throughout support closely analysed case studies of the best writing, in Source Texts by 64 authors, including Claire Bishop, Thomas Crow, T.J. Demos, Okwui Enwezor, Dave Hickey, John Kelsey, Chris Kraus, Rosalind Krauss, Stuart Morgan, Hito Steyerl, and Adam Szymczyk. Supplemented by a general bibliography, advice on the use and misuse of grammar, and tips on how to construct your own contemporary art library, How to Write About Contemporary Art is the essential handbook for all those interested in communicating about the art of today.


London ; New York, New York : Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2014.

Physical description

264 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


"34 illustrations and 64 source texts."


Introduction. There is no single 'best' way to write about art ; 'International Art English' ; Anyone can learn to write competently about art -- The Job: Why Write About Contemporary Art?. Explaining v. evaluating ; Art-words and artworks ; Artist/dealer/curator/critic/blogger/'Kunstworker'/journalist/historian ; Out of the blue: where art-criticism came from ; Art-writing sans frontières -- The Practice: How to Write About Contemporary Art. 'Fear is the root of bad writing' ; How to substantiate your ideas ; The audience: grounding specialists and non-specialists ; Practical 'how-to's -- The Ropes: How to Write Contemporary Art Formats. How to write an academic essay ; 'Explaining' texts ; 'Evaluating' texts ; How to write an artist's statement ; Writing formats compared: one artist, many writers -- Conclusion: How to read about contemporary art ; Notes.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references and index.


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  • 9780500291573
  • 0500291578