how to write about contemporary art


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

~Art Monthly, Feb 2015

‘An illuminating and engaging guide… invaluable for anyone involved in the art world.’

~Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-Director, Serpentine Gallery

‘A gem of a primer.’

~Tom Morton, frieze blog


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,, +  reviews:

see all reviews on +

see all reviews on Goodreads


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

Rebecca Fairley, Book review: How to Write about Contemporary Art, Open College of the Arts, Sept 2018

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

ICA bestselling artbooks: How to Write about Contemporary Art

Katie Green blog, How to Write about Contemporary Art, review

Reviews in brief

Accessible, well-organized, and example-rich, How to Write … proves 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)

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!’ (

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




see Goodreads

With thanks for your many requests, I do not offer private mentoring. 


Talks and Workshops


workshop, ‘Writing for Artists‘, Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University

lecture, ‘Effective Art Writing‘, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London


workshop, ‘Writing about Art, for Artists’, Acme Studios, London

workshop, ‘Writing for Artists‘, Goldsmiths MFA

workshop, ‘Writing for Artists‘, Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University


lecture, ‘How to Write About Art’, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London

talk, ‘Art Writing Basics: Writing v. Typing about Art’, The Value of Visual Literacy panel, New College of the Humanities, London

talk and workshop, ‘Absolute Beginners: How to Write about Contemporary Art’, Unity Arts, Hackney, London, Jun

talk and workshop, ‘Writing the Exhibition’, Whitechapel Gallery, London, Jun

talk and workshop, ‘Writing Artist’s Statements’, Spike Island, Bristol, May

guest lecturer,’Art Writing and Publishing for Academics’, UCL, Doha, Qatar, May

talk and workshop, ‘Writing Artist’s Statements’, Chisenhale Gallery, London, Mar

presentation, ‘Writing Artist’s Statements’, SPACE, with Cedar Lewisohn and Rebecca Morrill, Feb

chair, ‘Writing into Art Symposium‘, with Katrina Palmer, Erica Scourti, Nick Thurston, Duncan Wooldridge, New Contemporaries/South London Gallery/Camberwell College of Arts, London, Feb

presentation, ‘How to Write about Contemporary Art’, Lithuanian edition, Art Book Fair, Vilnius, Feb

guest lecturer, ‘Writing Artist’s Statements’, Norwich University of the Arts, Jan

guest lecturer, ‘Writing Artist’s Statements’, Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, Jan


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

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, Southbank 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’

The definitive guide to writing engagingly about the art of our time.

Now in 7 languages: English, Estonian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Russian + Taiwanese editions. (Make that 8! There’s an ‘unofficial’ Farsi translation too!)

  • 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.
  • More than 30 illustrations throughout support closely analysed case studies by 64 authors, including Hilton Als, Claire Bishop, Thomas Crow, T.J. Demos, Manthia Diawara, Okwui Enwezor, Dave Hickey, John Kelsey, Chris Kraus, Hito Steyerl, and Adam Szymczyk.

presentation of the Russian edition at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, May 2017, Gilda Williams in conversation with critic Valentin Diaconov.

'How NOT to Write about Contemporary Art'

Interview with Gilda Williams
TOHU online art magazine, March 2017

Thank you Instagrammers! A few favorites at #gildawilliams  #howtowriteaboutcontemporaryart