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How to Write about Contemporary Art
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About the Author

Gilda Williams is a London correspondent for Artforum and lecturer at Goldsmiths College and Sotheby's Institute of Art, London. From 1994 to 2005 she was Editor and then Commissioning Editor at Phaidon Press. She is a former managing editor at Flash Art International and her writing has appeared in Tate Etc., Parkett, Art Monthly, Art in America and Time Out. Williams is author of The Gothic (2007) and has contributed to catalogues for exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, the 48th Venice Biennale, and the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Rotterdam, among others.

Reviews

With How To Write About Contemporary Art Gilda Williams has created an illuminating, engaging and urgent guide to contemporary art-writing. While this is clearly essential reading for arts students and those at the start of a career in arts writing or criticism, it is equally invaluable for anyone involved in the art world that needs to transmit information and ideas in written form about contemporary art. So that s basically all of us. --Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-Director, Serpentine Gallery" A rare guide to writing practice that's also a wonderfully engaging read in itself, Gilda Williams's How to Write about Contemporary Art interweaves plainspoken advice on the practical nuts-and-bolts of art criticism with trenchant observations about the conditions of the profession, all delivered in the voice of a savvy, generous friend. With a long track record as both a writer for and editor at leading journals and publishing houses, Williams knows the field from both sides this valuable book engages not only the hows but, crucially, also the whys of art writing. --Jeff Kastner, Editor, Cabinet magazine" Bless you, Gilda Williams, for reminding us that fear is the root of bad writing, and for showing us how to take courage. Art writing can be deep, accurate, surprising, and even beautiful and with any luck, How to Write about Contemporary Art will spark a renascence of the deep, accurate, surprising, beautiful art writing we so badly need. --Barry Schwabsky, art critic, The Nation" Finally. A book that teaches you how to write and think clearly about art. I can imagine this book inspiriting future generations to write legibly and intelligently art criticism, a field that's become too hermetic and convoluted for its own good. Revolutionary, radical and long overdue. Bravo!--Kenneth Goldsmith, poet and founder, UbuWeb Fantastic... a straight-forward must-read for every writer, reader, artist and designer. Williams holds your hand, explaining why you need to do it, what you need to do, and how to do it. Thrillingly clear ... a beautifully formed guide to writing [...] should be required reading across every creative discipline. Essential! A thoroughly sensible and accessible guide to writing that could almost be applied to any subject. Illuminates contemporary art writing, providing insights into what we write about when we write about art....[Williams] reenvisions what it means to be a professional art writer and outlines the methods, ethics and even the financing that could see the role of the writer codified and professionalized in a new and important way in the art world of tomorrow. Artforum correspondent Williams applies lessons in graceful prose to the field of art writing...[She] excels when looking at excerpts from accomplished critics, including Rosalind Krauss and Walter Benjamin, and when giving nuts-and-bolts advice for crafting specific genres of art-world documents (catalogue essays, short news articles, academic essays, and the like) [This] how-to provides enough art-specific insights to cut through the garble so common in the field. In outlining exactly how an auction catalogue differs from a museum's wall label and a magazine review, down to the vocabulary and tone each should accommodate, Williams gives insight to the inner workings of very different industries: academia, auction houses and mainstream and professional press. Her systematic analysis of the current state of art writing is a first [and her] methodology is flawless. Artforum correspondent Williams applies lessons in graceful prose to the field of art writing...[She] excels when looking at excerpts from accomplished critics, including Rosalind Krauss and Walter Benjamin, and when giving nuts-and-bolts advice for crafting specific genres of art-world documents (catalogue essays, short news articles, academic essays, and the like) [This] how-to provides enough art-specific insights to cut through the garble so common in the field.

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