Writing about works of art can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to build up a body of knowledge from a standing start as well as link it — perhaps at the repeated behest of your tutor — to work that you’ve made. Finding a way to turn the experience of looking at something into meaningful text isn’t easy, but developing a way of clearly writing about the visual is an important skill to acquire when studying art.
This is an important book for anyone who writes about art and its related disciplines. From Textile Foundations to Sustaining Your Practice as a textile student you are asked to comment on the work of others and your own creative output. This is a skill that does not necessarily come naturally, and many students struggle with it. It is therefore important to get some help. This book is different from the many “how to” writing books because it makes a strong case for knowing your subject and writing creatively about it.
Anyone interested in pictures and representing the world ought to find something here of value. As an accessible primer on those issues it’s hard to beat. Read it, go and look at some of the work discussed in it, then re-read it.
A New Dictionary of Art is an absurd project, but a serious one and, to paraphrase a final definition from page 131, ‘makes the ordinary seem extraordinary’.