If it’s not good writing, it can’t be good criticism, to paraphrase Walter Benjamin in “The Author as Producer.” That’s the basic premise of the graduate program in Art Writing at the School of Visual Arts. The real history of art writing and criticism is vast, including everyone who has ever written well on art and its relation to the rest of the world. The discipline of art history has its own traditions, methodologies, terminology, and biases. Criticism needs a new “expanded field” of its own now, and this expanded field has to be grounded in radical literature and philosophy.
We concentrate on the essay as form, as well as on shorter forms of review, and learn art writing by doing it. We want students to come out of this program better prepared to write in the world. (Watch a short film about life after the program here.)
From its inception, this program has also had a special emphasis on the history and future of the image. The writers of tomorrow must study images in all of their manifestations in order to better understand how we are subject to them.
In addition to our exceptional core faculty—including Nancy Princenthal, Dejan Lukic, Jennifer Krasinski, Thomas Beard, Lucy Raven, Susan Bell, Chuck Stein, and Lynne Tillman—we invite many writers, critics, philosophers, editors, artists, and art historians in each year to give lectures and to meet with our students individually and in small groups. Recent guests include: Susan Buck-Morss, Sylvère Lotringer, Holland Cotter, Michael Taussig, Boris Groys, Cuauhtémoc Medina, T. J. Clark, Peter Schjeldahl, Bill Berkson, Lucy Lippard, Amy Sillman, Linda Nochlin, Hilton Als, and Dave Hickey.
Our students come from all over the world—Nigeria, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Brazil, Ecuador, Ireland, France, England, and Canada—as well as from around the United States. They also come from a wide variety of backgrounds and education, with undergraduate degrees in Art, Art History, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and Creative Writing, among others. What they have in common is intellectual curiosity, a passion for art, and the desire to write well.
It is obviously a big advantage to have such a program situated in the heart of New York City, amidst the greatest concentration of artists and art activity in the world. The connections made in the program between students and others working in the field are invaluable and long-lasting.
We are now accepting applications for the fall 2016 term. Generous departmental scholarships, as well as other forms of assistance, are available on a competitive basis. Contact us at artwriting.sva.edu or T +212 592 2408 for further information or to set up an appointment.
To see sample programs, faculty bios, news, the online journal, recordings of our popular lecture series, and admissions procedures, go to artwriting.sva.edu.