You have visited an art exhibition that has particularly struck you, and you would like to write a post about it. Great!
Writing reviews of art is a job that gives great satisfaction, but it is also very challenging.
Writing about art is not like writing about fashion. Ideas flow more slowly when it comes to transmitting what has struck us in an artistic work.
Art is subjective, our perception of it is influenced by our mentality, our beliefs, and even our education.
For this reason, when we approach the writing of art, we must consider that we are exposing our (personal) point of view that:
- Not the right one (there is no right point of view, there is a point of view)
- It could also be very different from meaning that the artist liked to give and that of others
- It can be influenced by our beliefs and our existential history
A first problem that could be posed by approaching the world of art journalism is the following: if my point of view concerning an art exhibition is different from that of the artist, what should I write about? About my point of view or that of the artist?
To answer this question, we must make a premise.
Sometimes the artist expresses his point of view, providing a notecard that illustrates the meaning of the exhibition. At other times this does not happen, and the artist wants the observer to explore his art freely.
If the artist expresses the meaning of his art, but this is different from our point of view, what is our duty to do is to communicate them both.
To do this, I advise you never to read the artist’s comments before having a clear interpretation of the gallery we are visiting.
An important aspect to keep in mind is that the artist and the art curator are always looking for visibility.
This aspect is not explicitly stated, but it is true.
Rarely an artist and a curator set up a gallery without ambitions. I do not say that it can not happen, but it is sporadic.
The art curator is interested in having his art gallery known, while the artist is interested in having his art-recognized and appreciated.
Both (artist and curator) seek recognition, also because they know that a negative (if influential) review is sufficient to bury a work for months.
I think that to write an appreciable art review, you need to ask yourself some questions that are able to help you share your point of view effectively.
Think about the meaning and purpose of the exhibition and works of art. Ask the following questions:
1. “Why are the works ordered and arranged in this way?”
“Is there a particular work that stands out from the rest?”
“What is the theme or subtext of this exhibition?”
“What is this show different from the others I’ve seen?”
2. Take note of the things that strike you.
If an artist or a particular work stands out in your eyes, take more detailed notes about it, most likely being something you feel you have a personal connection with.
3. Interview with a colleague invited to the exhibition to ask him for his opinion.
When interviewing a colleague, he starts by asking him general questions, then moving on to more direct questions directed towards specific works present in the exhibition.
A general question could be “How often do you go to an exhibition?”. A more direct instead it is “Which do you think is the most interesting aspect of the exhibition?” “Why this?”.
Try to keep the colleague in question and give a precise definition of the terms he uses. Also, try to understand the process that leads him to formulate specific answers. It will help you to structure your thoughts in the future.
Ask the colleague how he discovers the presence of art exhibitions. Ask him also what his opinion is on the value of the works.
4. Search for information on the gallery.
Usually, art galleries and museums tend to exhibit only certain types of works, to maintain a unitary character and take care of their reputation. Take some brochures, look at the gallery site and ask if you can have a press kit.
Conceptual mold galleries usually organize exhibitions focusing on critical current issues.
Other museums and galleries are more interested in specific technical characteristics of the works.
Recovers information about the gallery itself – from how much the structure exists, since it works as a gallery, etc.
5. Think about why a particular work of an artist has drawn your attention, and what makes it different from others.
6. When interviewing an artist, make sure your opinions are based on concrete elements.
Do not be afraid to express an opinion, but prepare to justify it.
If you do not like a particular work, use the details inside it to motivate your opinions, and put it in comparison with the actions of another artist that esteems more.
If you like artwork, think apparently what made it unique and fascinating in your eyes, try to understand what were the goals of the artist and how they were achieved.
• Be kind when you interview people.
• Do not use excessive superlatives. If you fall into the trap of defining any work of art you see as “breathtaking,” “magnificent” or “impeccable,” you will soon pass by a superficial and uninformed critic. Likewise, defining anything that you do not like “terrible,” “disgusting” or “immense” will give you a bad reputation, and you will probably make some enemy.
• Stay informed about trends and new ideas in the arts. Read newspapers, magazines, blogs and Twitter accounts that report the latest news from the art world.
• Do some research. Experts will dismiss you soon if you do not know the basics of art history and the contemporary art scene.
• Be open-minded. Do not go to an exhibition thinking that you will hate it. Try to always be open to the idea of knowing new methods and concepts.
Writing about art is challenging, but it is also a valuable tool to get in touch with our inner world and with our way of perceiving reality.
Our point of view can be interesting for our readers, and it can be useful for the visitor to read the way we see to better understand the sense of the gallery and some “nuances” that otherwise would escape the attention.
We will understand that we have done a good job when people start to share our writings, to comment on them and to consider our blog/magazine as a point of reference.