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Writing about art is based on a sustained practice of rigorous analysis when first encountering an art object and the subsequent composition of prose that articulates that specific artwork’s aesthetic, social, and historical value. In Writing for the Art World: Style and Substance, students engage in close study of art objects and exhibitions. By reading exemplary texts, students will master the fundamental requirements for writing about art.

The course explores writing structure, tone, and point-of-view, as well as the professional vocabulary used to intelligently describe and analyze contemporary art exhibitions. Students will work under the guidance of the instructor as well as in an exchange with fellow students via a mid-course peer workshop. This course also allows students to practice art writing by generating and revising weekly writing material such as exhibition reviews, museum wall text, artist biographies, and catalog entries. Students’ work in the course will culminate in the composition of a 1000-word essay that describes, analyzes, and critiques an exhibition which presents a strong or unique position within the context of art history or contemporary culture.

This Premier Online Course features weekly recorded lectures and faculty-guided discussion boards to maximize flexibility and deliver an engaging and interactive digital experience.

Students will learn:

  • To identify and describe the types of contemporary art writings that contribute to exhibitions, auctions, and public conversations about art.
  • To assess the vocabulary and writing techniques applicable in a variety of spheres that require a written analysis of art.
  • To create a written review which showcases your writing skills and could be used to further your career in the arts.
The Details
  • Course Dates & Fees

    Course Dates & Fees

    October 28 - December 8, 2020
    Tuition includes six weeks of instructor guidance and an additional 90 days to review the course at your leisure.
    We offer this online course throughout the year with sessions starting approximately every four months. Contact us for more information.
  • Getting Started & How It Works

    Getting Started & How It Works

    SIA Online Community, our learning and networking space, opens two weeks before the course begins. This space provides an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the learning platform and introduce yourself to fellow students from around the world.
    Visit our How It Works page to learn more about the online learning experience.
  • Sample Topics

    Sample Topics

    Week 1: Introduction to Art Writing

    • Who Writes About Art, Why and How

    • The Building Blocks of Visual Writing

    Week 2: The Essence of Successful Art Writing I: Tone and Structure

    • An Overview of Writings Generated by Galleries and Museums

    • Analysis of Museum Wall Texts

    • Review of What Press Releases Say and Why

    Week 3: The Essence of Successful Art Writing II: Voice and Craft

    • Master Art Writers from Past and Present

    • Analyzing and Connecting with Your Subject Matter

    Week 4: History and Biography

    • How to Professionally Convey Valuable, Biographical Information on Artists

    • Analyzing an Artist’s Individual Experiences and Their Social Context

    Week Five: Getting to the Point

    • Focus on De Kooning: From a Formal Analysis of a Singular Work to an Exploration of the Artist

    • How De Kooning’s Work Is Reevaluated Over Time

    Week Six: Seeing and Writing the World

    • Scholarly Writing for Exhibition Catalogues, Historical Books, etc

    • Formal Analysis, Artists’ Biographies, Critical Evaluation, Historic Research

  • Faculty


    Aimee Walleston, Adjunct Faculty, Online
    M.F.A., Art Criticism and Writing, School of Visual Arts; B.A., Writing, Literature, and the Arts in Context, Eugene Lang College
    Aimee Walleston is New York City-based essayist and editor, who has worked for magazines including W, Interview, Jane and The Last Magazine. She has contributed reviews, essays, and interviews to numerous publications including Art in America, Flash Art, The Brooklyn Rail, T Magazine and CR Fashion Book. Previously, she held the position of an in-house casting director for photographer Bruce Weber.
  • Certificate Of Completion

    Certificate Of Completion

    For each course successfully completed, you receive a verified Certificate of Completion from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
    Our digital certificates allow you to share new skills with various social media platforms, including LinkedIn. Successful completion is defined by each instructor in the course syllabus and consists, at the least, of regular, thoughtful participation in online activities and timely submission of assigned papers or projects.
  • Register


    Click here to register.
    This course is listed under the Premier Course option in the online application. Premier Online Courses are open to anyone 18 years of age and older. Registration takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.
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