Art 611

ART 611:  Critical Writing and Thinking in Art

Prerequisite: MFA status

Credit Hours: (3) Three hours lecture, discussion or reports

This graduate course focuses on the art of critical writing about art. The types of writing to be covered include: gallery/exhibition analysis; historical/social analysis of selected art works; and critiques of journal articles. The goal of the course will be the production of a preliminary thesis proposal to guide future art historical study and its relevance to the MFA thesis.


Detailed Description of Content of the Course

Specific art historical content will vary with the interests of students. Students may be asked to attend special lectures or exhibitions as stimuli for various forms of writing. Each student will be asked to identify a specific artist of interest and will be responsible for locating articles relevant to both the artist and the type of writing under examination that week. Articles and individual writing assignments will be shared with other students and jointly critiqued. The content is therefore forms of art writing, and the “media” for this class is the artist or period chosen by the student for examination, culminating in a written examination of the student’s own work.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The primary instructional methods will be informal lecture, the use of source readings, group discussion, comparisons of different approaches to the analysis of the same work, student writing projects and guided critique of other writing.


Goals and Objectives of this Course

• develop awareness of the major theoretical approaches to the analysis of art

• determine the theoretical point of view used by a writer and how this has affected

   that writer’s approach and conclusions

• develop ability to read and critique other writing about art, including mfa theses

• began preliminary formulation and writing of MFA thesis proposal


Assessment Measures

Writing assignments, in-class and instructor critique, and participation in writing assessment Activities will be used for assessment.

Draft of thesis proposal will be expected as final outcome.

Attendance and completion of all assigned activities will contribute to the grade.


Other Course Information:  

Primary text:

The specific text has not been determined and may not be necessary as essays in various anthologies will be appropriate. Readings may include books which model varieties of art criticism as well as books about art critical writing, such as the following examples:

Sarah Gill, The Critic Sees: A Guide to Art Criticism; Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing about Art, and other books of this type. Additional reading will come from books that provide models of serious and good art critical writing, such as Harold Rosenberg, The Tradition of the New, and essays by Donald Kuspit, Arthur Danto, Kirk Varnedoe and Susan Sontag.


Review and Approval

Approved:  May, 2010