Art Criticism and Writing | MFA Program

Wednesday June 13th, 2012
Filed under Alumni, News, News, Events and Alumni

Charlie Schultz (class of 2011), Naked Art Criticism, taking off the text.

Methodology by Charlie Schultz

As an art critic I like to be well informed, maybe even the most informed. Being informed makes me feel secure, security makes me comfortable but comfort, eventually, makes me complacent. So I’ve created this little experiment to do what I do in a more vulnerable manner and see what happens.

Obviously the most pure form of NAC (if you haven’t gotten a grip on what nudity means on this blog pop over the About page) would be complete serendipity and total newness. You would stumble onto artwork you’d never seen, or heard of, in a place you didn’t expect it to be. ZOWIE! Those conditions might be feasible in a controlled lab experiment, but for a working critic in NYC it’s just not likely at all.

So, this methodology is the next best thing: choose a neighborhood, one or two artists who you  know, and one or two you don’t. Go see those shows. It’s imperative to refrain from reading any press whatsoever, no press releases or artist statements, and where the title of the work is not written directly on the work, that’s to be avoided too. Zero Text is the way we try to achieve Zero Extraneous Info.

Here’s the key: choose shows from Andrew Ginzel’s list. Ginzel puts this list together for the School of Visual Art; it’s ideal for NAC because the only info Ginzel gives is the name of the artist and the gallery. That’s all you need.

visit Naked Art Criticism

Tuesday June 12, 2012
Filed under Events, News, News, Events and Alumni

Faculty member Alan Gilbert contributed an essay to Martha Rosler’s exhibition catalog

Martha Rosler’s Virtual Minefield
Book signing

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Free and open to the public

This new catalogue was produced by Location One to accompany Martha Rosler’s 2007 exhibition Virtual Minefield at Location One (April 13-May 25, 2007) and features an introduction by Rosler and essays by Alan Gilbert and Maria Lind.
Please join us in celebrating the publication release with a reception and book signing on June 12, from 6-8pm. Martha Rosler and Alan Gilbert will be on hand to sign your copy.
Martha Rosler
Since the early 1970s, Martha Rosler has produced seminal work in the fields of video, performance, photography, critical writing, and theory. Her incisive, often humorous and transgressive, renderings of the social scene reflect her strong commitment to an art that engages with wider publics beyond the privileged spaces of the art world. Accessibility has always been a major concern of hers, as is the role of the viewer in constructing the meaning of the work. She presses viewers to rethink the boundaries between the public and the private as well as the social and the political.
Alan Gilbert
Alan Gilbert is the author of the poetry book, Late in the Antenna Fields (Futurepoem, 2011), and a collection of essays and articles entitled Another Future: Poetry and Art in a Postmodern Twilight(Wesleyan University Press, 2006). His poems have appeared in BOMB, Boston Review, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, jubilat, and The Nation, among other places. His writings on art and literature have appeared in a variety of publications, including Artforum, The Believer, Bookforum, Cabinet, Modern Painters, Parkett, and the Village Voice. He has contributed catalogue essays and entries for a number of biennials, group shows, and solo exhibitions. He lives in Brooklyn.

Thursday May 31st, 2012
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni

Faculty Member Nancy Princenthal Moderates a Panel Discussion: Meeting Environmental Challenges with Art in the Public Sphere

Date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Time: 6 to 8pm (panel program starts at 6:00 pm with discussion and reception to follow)

Location: Hunter College, Student Dining Room, Hunter West Building, 3rd floor,
Lexington & East 68th St., New York, NY 10065
Enter through the West Building Lobby on the SW corner of 68th Street and Lexington Avenue. (Photo ID required).

(646) 286-1593 or

PANEL: Meeting Environmental Challenges with Art in the Public Sphere:
perspectives on Mary Miss’s City as Living Laboratory for Sustainability in Urban Design and its project, BROADWAY: 1000 Steps

A moderated discussion of the implications of the installation at Montefiore Park

Panelists: Patricia Phillips, Dean of Graduate Studies, Rhode Island School of Design
Eleanor Heartney, art critic
Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director, The Queens Museum of Art
Niels Van Tomme, curator, critic and Director of Arts and Media, Provisions Learning Project

Moderator: Nancy Princenthal, art critic and former senior editor of Art in America

Opening remarks: Prof. William Solecki, PhD, Director, CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, Hunter College
Dr. John Fraser, PhD AIA, President CEO, New Knowledge Organization Ltd & Adjunct Faculty, Hunter College
Mary Miss, Artist and Founder of Mary Miss/City as a Living Lab, will introduce the installation.

Monday May 14th, 2012
Filed under Fall 2012, News

Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2012

The Art Criticism & Writing program at the School of Visual Arts is one of the only graduate programs in the world that focuses specifically on criticism and art writing. This program is not involved in “discourse production” or the prevarications of curatorial rhetoric, but rather in the practice of criticism writ large, aspiring to literature.

The practice of criticism involves making finer and finer distinctions among like things, but it is also a way to ask fundamental questions about art and life. The MFA program in Art Criticism & Writing is designed to give students a grounding in the philosophical and historical bases of criticism, to improve both their writing and their seeing, and to provide sources that they can draw on for the rest of their lives.

Critics cannot afford to be specialists, so our curriculum is wide-ranging. In addition to the foundation seminar, Bases of Criticism I & II, taught by chair David Levi Strauss, three levels of writing practicums, and the thesis seminar, we offer an array of continually changing electives taught by prominent writers and critics. We concentrate on the essay as form, as well as on shorter forms of review, and learn criticism by doing it. The thesis that students write at the end of their course of study is intended to be a substantial piece of criticism. We want students to come out of this program better prepared to write in the world.

From its inception, this program has had a special emphasis on the history and future of the image. The critics 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, 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, Robert Storr, Avital Ronell, W.J.T. Mitchell, Lynne Tillman, Michael Taussig, Boris Groys, Cuauhtémoc Medina, T. J. Clark, Peter Schjeldahl, Ann Lauterbach, Michael Brenson, Bill Berkson, Lucy Lippard, Amy Sillman, Linda Nochlin, and Dave Hickey.

Our acclaimed lecture series at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea continues this spring with anarchist anthropologist and principal contributor to the Occupy Wall Street movement David Graeber on January 19th, art historian Anne Wagner on February 14th, and scholar and writer Joan Richardson on April 12th.

In January 2012 we moved into our newly built facilities (including a new library) on the 6th floor of 132 West 21st Street in Chelsea. 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.

Our students produce an online journal of timely reviews of current exhibitions in New York City and other writings called Degree Critical, edited by Nancy Princenthal. Read Degree Critical on our website, at

We are now accepting applications for the Fall 2012 term. If you cannot apply by the January 20th early admission date, we will be accepting applications on a rolling admissions basis until all positions are filled. Generous departmental scholarships are available on a competitive basis. To download an application, go to, or (212) 592-2408 for further information.

To see sample programs, faculty bios, news, the Degree Critical online journal, recordings of past lectures, and admissions procedures, go to

Sunday December 2, 2012
Filed under Events, Fall 2012, News, Events and Alumni

Graduate Student Conference, Critical Information, December 2nd, 2012 SVA

Hosted by the MFA program in Art Criticism & Writing
at the School of Visual Arts, New York City, December 2, 2012

Facebook page:

Proposals due June 30, 2012 to

Critical Information is an interdisciplinary graduate student conference, which provides a platform to assess current scholarship and research at the intersection of art, media, and society. Critical Information is particularly interested in engaging both collaborative and individual papers or projects that address the following issues: Art and Social Theory, Philosophy and Media, Mediated Image Making, the Work of Art in the Information Age, Media and Memory, Identity and Representation in the Mediated Environment, Mediated Intercultural Exchange, Media Excess, and the History and Future of the Image, and more. All themes pertaining to the juncture of media, theory, society and the visual arts will be considered.

Open to all current graduate students and those who have received a graduate degree within the last year, Critical Information is sponsored by the MFA Art Criticism & Writing Department at the School of Visual Arts.

Submission Requirements:

Name, School, Department Affiliation, Academic Status

Phone Number, Email Address

Title of Paper or Project

Abstract including thesis statement and main argument. 100-150 words

Please submit the above information and your abstract within the body of an email. No attached word documents.

Important Dates:

Abstract Deadline: June 30, 2012

Decision Email: September 30, 2012

Paper Deadline; November 1, 2012

Conference Date: December 2, 2012


The MFA Art Criticism and Writing Department at SVA offers a two-year course of study leading to an MFA degree. For students who want to improve their writing and advance their knowledge of contemporary art, theory, literature, and history, this concentrated program offers seminars by practicing critics, editors, philosophers, poets, and artists. The focus in writing is on the essay as form, as well as on shorter forms of review, through intensive writing practicums.

School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the faculty has been comprised of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

Monday May 7th, 2012
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni

FROM METAPHYSICS TO INVECTIVE: Art Criticism as if it Still Matters*

by David Levi Strauss, published in the May 2012 issue of the Brooklyn Rail

My title comes from Paul Valéry, in a wonderful little essay he wrote about Corot in 1932, where he said:

‘Art criticism’ is that form of literature which condenses or amplifies, emphasizes or arranges, or attempts to bring into harmony all the ideas that come to the mind when it is confronted by artistic phenomena. Its domain extends from metaphysics to invective.

As you can tell from the titles of my books (Between Dog & Wolf, Between the Eyes, From Head to Hand) I have a weakness for prepositions, and I especially appreciate the order here, “from metaphysics to invective,” rather than the other way around. I’ve found that students who are beginning to write criticism usually start with the vehement denunciation and vituperation first, and it might be a very long time before they get around to the metaphysics. That Valéry began with metaphysics is probably a key to why we still read his criticism. And that of Baudelaire, who said, “There is never a moment when criticism is not in contact with metaphysics.” (click here to keep reading)

Tuesday February 14th, 2012
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2012

Aldrin Valdez (class of 2012) is a guest-blogger for Art 21

Tuesday February 7th, 2012
Filed under Alumni, Links, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2012

Sophie Landres (class of 2008), is the chair of the 2012 Art History and Criticism Lecture Series at Stony Brook University in NYC

2012 Art History and Criticism Lecture Series presents
Cinema, Architecture and Collectivity: Report on a Reversed Movie Production

This Friday, February 10, 2012

Stony Brook University Manhattan facility
101 East 27th Street,
Room 321 B
between Park Avenue South and Lexington Avenue

Imagine a reversed movie production process – one starting with the advertising campaign and – moving backwards through all the normal stages of postproduction and production, – ends where it all normally starts: with the writing of a screenplay. Imagine next the screening situation for the outcome of this production: an architectural environment built from the cinematic materials of this production – a veritable Cinecitta if there ever was one. No mere fantasy, such a project was in fact realized in 2007 under the direction of the German artist Tobias Rehberger and starring Hollywood luminaries such as Kim Basinger, Willem Dafoe and Danny de Vito, among many others.

In her lecture Blom will discuss the wider ramifications of an artistic project that is only one (if perhaps the most spectacular) among a series of recent artworks that stage encounters between architecture and moving image media such as cinema and television. The mediatic aspects of contemporary architecture are well known, as are the architectural qualities of various types of media spaces. However, by raising the very encounter between cinema and architecture to a principle, these works above all bring out the question of how collectivity is thought or figured within such an environment. The wider framework for the discussion is the question between art and social ontologies, brought on by the influx of so-called “social” or “relational” art productions.

Ina Blom is a professor at the Institute of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo. Recent publications include On the Style Site: Art, Sociality and Television Culture (Sternberg Press, 2007); The Postal Performance of Ray Johnson (Sittard, 2003); and Joseph Beuys (Gyldendal, 2001). 
A former music critic, she also works as an art critic, contributing to Artforum, Parkett, Afterall, frieze, and Texte zur Kunst. Ina Blom is currently heading the interdisciplinary research project named The Archive in Motion, which deals with changes in our understanding of social memory due to the impact of new media technologies.

Organized by the Art History and Criticism graduate students of Stony Brook University
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Tuesday January 31st, 2012
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni, Reviews, Spring 2012

Lynne Tillman on Gertrude Stein in the New York Times Book Review

Tuesday January 10th, 2012
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2012

David Levi Strauss will be speaking at USC on February 22nd

Rodney McMillian, “untitled,” 2010.
Courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; Photo Credit: Robert Wedemeyer.
Roski School of Fine Arts
University of Southern California

Graduate Lecture Series

The USC Roski School of Fine Arts is pleased to announce its Spring 2012 Graduate Lecture Series, featuring weekly, in-depth presentations by internationally recognized artists, curators, and writers in an intimate setting that fosters critical conversation.

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