Call for applications: MFA Art Writing

Call for applications: MFA Art Writing

School of Visual Arts (SVA)

Walter Benjamin, carte de visite photo (detail). Atelier Gillert, 1902.

April 29, 2019
Call for applications: MFA Art Writing
Fall 2019
School of Visual Arts (SVA)
MFA Art Writing
132 West 21 Street
New York, NY 10010

If it’s not good writing, it can’t be good criticism, to paraphrase Walter Benjamin in “The Author as Producer.” That’s the basic premise of the graduate program in Art Writing (formerly called Art Criticism & Writing) at the School of Visual Arts. The real history of art writing and criticism is vast, including everyone who has ever written well on art and its relation to the rest of the world. The discipline of art history has its own traditions, methodologies, terminology, and biases. Art Writing needs a new expanded field of its own, now, and this field has to be grounded in radical poetics, literature, philosophy, and theory.

We concentrate on the essay as form, as well as on shorter forms of review, and learn criticism by doing it. We want students to come out of this program better prepared to write in the world.

Almost everyone who graduates from the MFA Art Writing program continues to write and publish (in Artforum, Art in America, Frieze, the Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, art critical, and our own online journal Degree Critical, among others). Many also work as senior editors at print and online publications (including Hyperallergic, Artforum, the Brooklyn Rail, Bomb, Art in America) and for museums (the Met, the Whitney, MoMA, Studio Museum), start their own publications, and publish books based on the work they do here on their theses (most recently, Emmanuel Iduma’s A Stranger’s Pose, Eric Sutphin’s Rosemarie Beck: Letters to a Young Painter and Other Writings, and Cindy Cruz’s Disquieting: Essays on Silence). They also teach (at SVA, NYU, Hunter, Columbia, San Francisco Art Institute, and elsewhere) twelve of them have gone on to distinguish themselves in PhD programs in Art History, Literature, History, Modern Culture and Media, and one completed law school, concentrating on art law. Watch a short film about life after the program here.

From its inception, this program has also had a special emphasis on the history and future of the image. The writers 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—David Levi Strauss (Chair), Nancy Princenthal, Jennifer Krasinski, Dejan Lukic, Chuck Stein, Emmanuel Iduma, Jen Kabat, Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Debra Bricker Balken, and Lynne Tillman—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. Guests have included Susan Buck-Morss, Sylvère Lotringer, Holland Cotter, Michael Taussig, Anne Waldman, Boris Groys, Cuauhtémoc Medina, T.J. Clark, Peter Schjeldahl, Lucy Lippard, Linda Nochlin, Michael Brenson, Teju Cole, Ann Lauterbach and Elaine Scarry.

Our students come from all over the world—Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Bosnia, the Philippines, China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Ecuador, Ireland, France, and Canada—as well as from around the United States. They also come from a wide variety of backgrounds and education, with undergraduate degrees in Art, Art History, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and Creative Writing, among others. What they have in common is intellectual curiosity, a passion for art, and the desire to write well.

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. The connections made in the program between students and others working in the field are invaluable and long lasting.

We are now accepting applications for the fall 2019 term. Generous departmental scholarships, as well as other forms of assistance, are available upon acceptance. Contact us at artwriting [​at​], or T (212) 592 2408 for further information or to set up an appointment.

To see sample programs, faculty bios, news, the online journal, recordings of our popular lecture series, and admissions procedures, go to

Apply online here.

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April 29, 2019

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