Art Criticism and Writing: an Introduction

June 12, 2015


Lecturer: An Paenhuysen

Art criticism is essential to the development of a dynamic and virile art scene and tradition. In curatorial and artistic practice, good writing skills combined with a critical mindset are a necessity on various levels, such as applying for funding, presenting an exhibition project, writing texts for catalogues, press releases, and about the art pieces in the show. In the workshop we will dedicate ourselves to the writing of short-form art critical reviews. We will learn how to formulate an idea with clarity, how to analyze and evaluate art and its display in a thoughtful, meaningful way. A range of critical methods as well as different outlets (art magazine, newspaper, blog, etc.) are discussed.

With stage-by-stage guidance the participants are supported in their endeavor to experiment, to be creative, and especially to develop their own style. So we exercise, sharpen and shape both imagination and skill. Writing about art has no template, in the workshop we treat it as an evolving social form.

Participation fee: 148€
Language: English

Enroll here




Week 1:

  • the position of critical writing in the contemporary art world. The difficulties and
  • opportunities of writing and publishing art criticism
  • examining examples of art criticism: questioning and challenging clichés and
  • jargons of the genre
  • reflection: can we define the characteristics of good art critical writing?
  • homework: creating a “pillow book list”

Week 2:

  • discussion of art and its qualities
  • writing about exhibition displays: strategies, tools, and parameters of forming your
  • opinion of an exhibition
  • homework: writing exercise (involves visiting an exhibition opening)

Week 3:

  • feedback and workshopping texts
  • subjectivity and objectivity in critical writing: how are you positioned?
  • homework: writing exercise

Week 4:

  • workshopping texts
  • the advantages/disadvantages of various formats, such as blogging, reportage, etc.
  • negotiating fees for writing and the benefit of saying no/yes



About An Paenhuysen

An is a freelance writer, curator, and arts educator. She wrote her Phd about the cultural criticism of the Belgian avant-garde artists in the 1920s. As a post-doc An has been working on 1920s photography at Columbia University New York, UC Berkeley, and the Humboldt-University Berlin. At the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin An curated a show on Land Art and co-curated together with Wolfgang Müller a show on Valeska Gert. Together with Wolfgang Müller, An Paenhuysen also curated the exhibition Gesture Sign Art, Deaf Culture / Hearing Culture in Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin. She has written for exhibition catalogues such as The End of the 20th Century, The Best is Yet To Come (Hamburger Bahnhof, eds. Catherine Nichols and Eugen Blume, 2013), and for art magazines such as Spex, Artslant, and WhiteHotMagazine. An is a fervent blogger. Her website: and blog:

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