Gi l d a   Wi l l i a m s

art critic

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the things she writes about

the things she does

a little
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‘Finally. A book that teaches you how to write and think clearly about art. Revolutionary, radical and long overdue. Bravo!’
-- Kenneth Goldsmith, poet and Founder, UbuWeb

‘Will become a standard text for anyone studying or interested in critical writing.’
-- Michael Bracewell, art critic and novelist

‘A rare guide to writing practice that's also a wonderfully engaging read in itself, Gilda Williams's How to Write about Contemporary Art interweaves plainspoken advice on the practical nuts-and-bolts of art criticism with trenchant observations about the conditions of the profession, all delivered in the voice of a savvy, generous friend.’  
-- Jeff Kastner, Editor, Cabinet magazine

‘Bless you, Gilda Williams, for reminding us that fear is the root of bad writing, and for showing us how to take courage. With any luck, How to Write about Contemporary Art will spark a renascence of the deep, accurate, surprising, beautiful art writing we so badly need.’
-- Barry Schwabsky, art critic, The Nation

Andrew Berardini, How to Write about Contemporary Art at

Jennifer Thatcher, How to Write about Contemporary Art in Art Monthly

Louis Bury, How to Write about Contemporary Art at

How to Write about Contemporary Art: Interview with Joe Nolan at

Peter Andersen, How to Write about Contemporary Art, Journal of Curatorial Studies, June 2015, Vol. 4, issue 2

How to Write about Contemporary Art: extract from the Dublin Review of Books

London, ICA, top 10 bestselling art-books: How to Write about Contemporary Art

Reviews in brief
‘Accessible, well-organized, and example-rich, How to Write ...  provides a welcome refresher course … relevant to newer art writers whatever their particular concerns. […] Like good art, the book … inspires you.’
-- Louis Bury,

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

‘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

‘Applies lessons in graceful prose to the field of art writing [...] 
Williams excels ... when giving nuts-and-bolts advice for crafting specific genres of art-world documents (catalogue essays, short news articles, academic essays, and the like). [This] how-to provides enough art-specific insights to cut through the garble so common in the field.”' (Publisher's Weekly)

‘Fantastic... a must-read for every writer, reader, artist and designer.’ (

‘Thrillingly clear’
‘A beautifully formed guide to writing ... 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

‘A thoroughly sensible and accessible guide to writing that could almost be applied to any subject.’

‘Gilda Williams has written a small and important book ... This is a worthwhile read for writers and artists, especially artists who struggle with how words can respectfully and meaningfully coexist with their visual work. This is as close to an art writing style guide as I have seen, and a worthwhile add to my bookshelf.‘                                                                                                     (
‘Books on Art’: Dreamlist


workshop, How to Write about Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 20 Oct

interview, ‘How NOT to Write about Contemporary Art’, by Bar Yerushalmi, TOHU online art magazine, March 2017. Translation in Hebrew:

talk, Royal College of Art, London, ‘Art-Writing for Curators’

talk, ‘Writing v Typing: On Writing About Art’, Hangar Bicocca, Milan

talk, ‘Publishing Art Writing Now’, Arnolfini, Bristol,


talk, ‘Writing for Artists’, Chisenhale Gallery, ‘Into the Wild’ programme

talk, South Bank Centre, ‘Art Writing for Curators’, with Ralph Rugoff and Morgan Quaintance

‘‘How to Write about Art’, day course, Whitechapel Art Gallery, ‘Inside the Gallery’

lecturer, ‘INSIDE/OUT’ lecture,  How to Write about Contemporary Art Leeds Beckett University, ‘Art Writing in the Second Machine Age’


how to write about contemporary art

- The definitive guide to writing engagingly about the art of our time, now in its 3rd edition.

The little red book everyone  in the art world should have’

-- Art Monthly, Feb 2015. Read full review here

  1. - Now in Russian, Korean and Estonian editions. Lithuanian and Taiwanese editions in 2018.

  1. -Ranging across the complete spectrum of art-writing, How to Write About Contemporary Art is organized around specific forms: 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.

  1. -More than 30 illustrations throughout support closely analysed case studies 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.

  1. -Supplemented by a general bibliography, advice on the use and misuse of grammar, and suggestions on beginning a contemporary art library.

  2. -

presentation of the Russian Edition at the

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, May 2017,  Gilda Williams  in conversation with critic

Valentin Diaconov, watch here

photo: Fullscream.com
read an extract

McGale, How to Write about Contemporary Art on flickr.

Interview with Gilda Williams --
‘How NOT to Write about Contemporary Art’
TOHU online art magazine, Mar 2017