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Monday, May 17, 2004

How to Write an Art Criticism Essay in 7 Easy Steps

  • Make up words. Turn nouns into adjectives by adding -esque and -ian to the end. Turn adjectives into verbs by adding -ing to the end. Turn everything into nouns by adding -ness to the end.

  • Overuse abstract terms. Combine them together in really long sentences so that the end result is unintelligible. Ex. "Stella's works took the critic's earlier dogma of formal self-containment to a deadpan conclusion expunging any residues of Abstract Expressionist emotionalism and seizing on John's use of systematic pictorial rationales, Stella deducted the internal logic of paintings such as 'Die Fahne Hoch!' form their nature as objects." by David Hopkins in Modernism in Retreat: Minimalist Aesthetics and Beyond.
  • Call art works everything and its opposite. Not only can you say anything about at artist's piece, but actually anything and the opposite too. Ex. "Nonsensical and profoundly meaningful", "Polke treats himself as both subject and object", "abstract and deeply realistic". by Donald Kuspit in At the Tomb of the Unknown Picture: Sigmar Polke's Art.
  • Pull comments out of your ass. Defy common sense and logic and make subjective comments that are ridiculously absurd. No one will say anything, because, well.. it's art. Ex. "The longer I look at the painting, the more attentive I become to my own body, its sensations and postural schema." "...the tacit knowledge I have about my own body becomes entirely conscious, as I become aware of that body that I experience at this precise moment.

    My living body sheds its anonymity as it assimilates this thinglike object, this seeming slice or slab of glistening black obsidian, thereby becoming an imagined body, brought into being by the painting and my attention to it."
    by Campbell, talking about Ron Martin's 'black painting' (to the right), in Imagination, Materiality, and Body-Image: Ron Martin.
  • Use extreme forms of metaphor that make you sound like you're having drug-induced hallucinations. Ex. "A modern Cuban composer, Caturla, earned his living as a judge. A man he sentenced to life imprisonment escaped and murdered Caturla not where it is within us, but like an empty glass into which at any moment anything may be poured, just something, finitely something, or even to be able to drink a glass of water." by John Cage in Juliard Lecture.
  • Make reference to obscure academic subjects, especially ones that specialize in making no sense, such as Postmodernism.
  • last but not least, write so horribly that you leave art professors no material to ask exam questions on, so as to force them to ask only feckless questions about names and dates.

Aren't we all glad it's Summer.