The MFA program in Art Criticism & Writing is one of the only graduate writing programs in the world that focuses specifically on criticism. 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, 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 current transformations 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 artists, writers, critics, philosophers, editors, and art historians in each year to give lectures and to meet with our students individually or in small groups. 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.