EU shipping is temporarily suspended

How to Write About Contemporary Art

Gilda Williams


The definitive guide to writing engagingly about contemporary art, packed with tips and real-life examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ writing

See Inside

Also available as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon


How to Write About Contemporary Art is the definitive guide to writing, engagingly about the art of our time. Invaluable for students, art professionals and other aspiring writers, the book first navigates readers through the key elements of style and content, from the aims and structure of a piece to its tone and language. Brimming with practical tips that range across the complete spectrum of art-writing, the second part of the book is organized around its specific forms, including academic essays; press releases and news articles; texts for auction and exhibition catalogues, gallery guides and wall labels; op-ed journalism and exhibition reviews; and writing for websites and blogs.

In counselling the reader against common pitfalls - such as jargon and poor structure - Gilda Williams points instead to the power of close looking and research, showing how to deploy language effectively; how to develop new ideas; and how to construct compelling texts. More than 30 illustrations throughout support closely analysed case studies of the best writing in Source Texts by 64 authors, including Claire Bishop, Thomas Crow, T.J. Demos, Okwui Enwezor, Dave Hickey, John Kelsey, Chris Kraus, Rosalind Krauss, Stuart Morgan, Hito Steyerl and Adam Szymczyk.

Supplemented by a general bibliography, advice on the use and misuse of grammar and tips on how to construct your own contemporary art library, How to Write About Contemporary Art is the essential handbook for all those interested in communicating about the art of today.

Read More


'An illuminating, engaging and urgent guide to contemporary art-writing. Essential reading for arts students … invaluable for anyone involved in the art world'
Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-Director, Serpentine Gallery

'Will become a standard text for anyone studying or interested in critical writing and the very vexed subject of “writing about art”'
Michael Bracewell, critic and novelist

'Williams’s methodology is flawless ... gives insight to the inner workings of very different industries: academia, auction houses and mainstream and professional press'

'Fantastic … a must-read for every writer, reader, artist and designer'

'A thoroughly sensible and accessible guide to writing that could almost be applied to any subject'

'Thrillingly clear … beautifully formed ... an incisive manual for clarity of thought. This guide could as easily apply to writing (and indeed thinking on any creative endeavour … Essential!'
Dressing the

Read More

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Size: 21.0 x 14.0 cm

Extent: 264 pp

Publication date: 1 September 2014

ISBN: 9780500291573

Contents List

Introduction • Section 1. The Job – Why Write about Contemporary Art? • Section 2. The Practice – How to Write about Contemporary Art • Section 3. The Ropes – How to Write Contemporary Art Formats

About the Author

Gilda Williams is a contemporary art critic, editor and teacher. She is a lecturer on the MFA in Curating programme, Goldsmiths College, and Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She is London correspondent for Artforum magazine and a member of the International Association of Art Critics.

Related Topics