I Am Writing To… Open Letters in Art Criticism

– Node Center Notebooks Vol. 2 –

A collection of exercises from the online course “Creative Forms in Art Criticism and Writing”, lectured by An Paenhuysen


Authors: Hanako Fujii, Mercedes Carriquiry, Alex Bowron, Annette Abel, Claudio Cravero, Flavia Dalla Bernardina, Marina Kassianidou, Maeve Hanna, Annalisa Pellino, Sarah Mercadante, Sujin Jung.

Edited by
: An Paenhuysen
Produced by:
Node Center for Curatorial Studies
David Matos



Open letters are a genre that art critics rarely use. If they ever did so, these letters did’t seem to go viral. It’s different with artists’ letter writing. There are several famous ones: Adrian Piper critiquing art critic Donald Kuspit, Yvonne Rainer opposing museum director Jeffrey Deitch, Danh Vō fighting with his collector Bert Kreuk. 

Mostly, these open letters are written with emotion. The emotion tends often to be negative, coming from a place of anger. Open letters are a great way for releasing that anger, protesting against injustice or denouncing malpractice with the knowledge that also a wider audience will be informed. Instead, the positive thank-you letter seems to be a rather private matter. 

Like the private letter, the language of the open letter not only allows feelings, but it is also highly personal. Both feelings and the personal might be the reasons why art critics avoid the genre of open letter writing. Many art critics embrace the impersonal and the objective, sometimes even to the point of avoiding a clear, singular positioning.

“Sincere” and “authentic” might sound cheesy, but they define the spirit behind I Am Writing To… Open Letters in Art Criticism. These letters were written by worldwide based art critics during the online course “Creative Forms in Art Criticism and Writing” at Node Center – Curatorial Studies Online. It is surprising but, all the letters ended up being positive, and this is not because negative thoughts were censured. Yet, don’t we all know that expressing gratitude is not an easy thing to do privately, and does it get any easier when your praise goes public?

An Paenhuysen

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