SVA Art Criticism and Writing / MFA Program: Fall 2010 Lecture Series

SVA Art Criticism and Writing / MFA Program: Fall 2010 Lecture Series

School of Visual Arts (SVA)

September 16, 2010
SVA Art Criticism and Writing / MFA Program: Fall 2010 Lecture Series

Including Ammiel Alcalay, Lynne Tillman, Peter Schjeldahl, and Katy Siegel

All events all are free and open to the public, and begin at 7pm

SVA Theatre
333 West 23rd Street

“To Write a Republic”: Experience, Heroism, and Poetics
in the National Security State

Alcalay’s work has ranged from scholarship, translation, and activist writings on the Middle East and the Balkans, to recontextualizing the “New American Poetry” in political terms. His books include poetry, the cairo notebooks (1993), from the warring factions (2002), and Scrapmetal (2007); scholarship and essays, After Jews & Arabs (1993) and Memories of Our Future (1998); and translations from Bosnian, Hebrew, and Arabic, including Semezdin Mehmedinovic’s Sarajevo Blues (1998). His latest book, a novel called Islanders, was recently published by City Lights. A new book of essays, A Little History, is due out from Fred Dewey Books this year.

Words Are Images, Too

Thursday, October 14, 2010, 7 pm

Lynne Tillman will talk about her fiction, especially those pieces that address art and visual culture using stories and characters. In writing alongside art, Tillman engages a perpetual problem: How to discuss, describe, and comment upon one medium through another. She will also raise other issues, conundrums, and jokes: Make things new, renew them, or forget they’re old?

“Tillman tackles issues on her terms, freshly reshaping traditional literary forms,” said Booklist. She has crossed and recrossed the lines between fiction and criticism often, especially in This Is Not It: Stories by Lynne Tillman, published by D.A.P. in 2002. Tillman is the author of the novels Haunted Houses, Motion Sickness, Cast in Doubt, and No Lease on Life; and the story collections Absence Makes the Heart and The Madame Realism Complex. Her non-fiction books are The Velvet Years: Warhol’s Factory 1965-1967; The Broad Picture; and Bookstore: The Life and Times of Jeannette Watson and Books & Co. She writes regularly on art, books, and culture, and contributes frequently to artists’ books and museum catalogues.

Of Ourselves and of Our Origins: Subjects of Art

Thursday, November 18, 2010, 7 pm

At a time when art is being publicly gamed to exhaustion, can we still, or again, speak sensibly of what we like about it, deep down?

Peter Schjeldahl has been the art critic of The New Yorker since 1998. Prior to that he was a regular art critic for The Sunday New York Times, The Village Voice, ARTnews, and 7 Days, and published five books of poetry between 1967 and 1981. His collections of criticism include The Hydrogen Jukebox (1991) and Let’s See: Writings on Art from The New Yorker (2008). He won the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Excellence in Art Criticism in 1980, and the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing in 2008. The committee of selection for the Clark Prize wrote: “His insightful, fluid, and concise writing has increased the general public’s interest in art as it has contributed to our collective critical understanding of sometimes difficult and challenging work.”

Since ‘45: Contemporary Art and Art History’s Old Habits

Thursday, December 16, 2010, 7 pm

Katy Siegel’s new book, Since ‘45: America and the Making of Contemporary Art, details the collision of American History and modern art. In it, Dave Hickey wrote, “Siegel lays bare the fragile, historical co-existence of European ideas about avant-garde and the American predisposition for designed obsolescence.” And Richard Schiff wrote, “Katy Siegel may well be our most insightful critic of contemporary art. It helps that she is also an art historian who puts the contemporary and the modern in perspective, identifying the larger issues that pertain to both.” Siegel is a contributing editor for Artforum, and has published criticism and essays there for years. She has also written numerous catalogue essays and co-authored a book on the relationship between art and the market, with a focus on very recent art, Art Works: Money. She teaches at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center.


The MFA in Art Criticism & Writing program at the School of Visual Arts is now accepting applications for the Fall 2011 semester.

Contact [email protected], (212) 592-2408, or go to for more information about how to apply.

The Art Criticism & Writing graduate program at the School of Visual Arts offers a two-year course of study leading to an MFA degree. SVA is one of the nation’s leading independent colleges of art and design, located in the heart of Manhattan, just blocks from the Chelsea gallery district.

For students who want to improve their writing and advance their knowledge of contemporary art, theory, and history, this program offers specialized instruction from practitioner-teachers led by the Chair of the program, David Levi Strauss. Current faculty includes Michael Brenson, Nancy Princenthal, Lucy Raven, Fionn Meade, Phong Bui, Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, Raphael Rubinstein, Tom Huhn, Ken Johnson, Suzanne Anker, and Susan Bee. The core faculty is joined by visiting critics and scholars who come into the program to teach in various capacities on a frequent basis.

The sixty-credit program offers foundation courses in the bases of criticism and the fundamentals of critical writing, leading to the completion of the thesis in the final term. The small class size allows a great deal of one-on-one time with the faculty and extensive dialogue with other students. The focus in writing is on the essay as form, as well as on shorter forms of review, through our criticism blog Degree Critical.

An underlying principle of this program from its inception has been that the image should begin to occupy a place in the understanding of life comparable to that occupied by the humanities and sciences. To that end, we spend a good deal of time studying the history of images and how they currently operate in the world.

The deadline for applications for the Fall 2011 term is January 15, 2011. Scholarship packages are available on a competitive basis.

The Chair will be available throughout the year to meet with interested candidates to discuss the program and its philosophy. Potential applicants are also invited to sit in on the foundation seminar by appointment and invitation.

To download an application, go to, or contact [email protected], (212) 592-2408, to arrange an interview or visit.

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School of Visual Arts (SVA)
September 16, 2010

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