The course will familiarise students with diverse ways of writing about art. This is achieved through a series of lectures by experts and through workshops in which students will experiment with different approaches to ‘Writing Art’. There are as many different ways of writing about art as there are authors. However, it is possible to distinguish specific genres and traditions in writing art, such as art history, art criticism, performative writing, art fiction, writing by artists, etc.

Ed Ruscha, Oh No, 2011 hand-drilled intaglio on fore-edge of book, photo: Paul Ruscha


Dr. Janneke Wesseling, Liesbeth Fit, Dr. Marcel Cobussen, Prof. dr. Kitty Zijlmans and guest tutors

For whom?

For 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of KABK, KC and LU


14 Wednesday evening sessions, September – December 2015

Is it possible to bridge the gap between language on the one hand and the visual or auditive experience of an art work on the other? How can a personal experience of art be conveyed to the reader in a convincing and engaging way? What is the status, or the function, of text in relation to the art work, what are the possibilities and the potential limits in writing on art? Is it possible to engage in an art critical, academic or artistic discourse on visual imagery and auditive experience on the basis of text; and if so how does one do that?

The course considers a wide range of writing on art, from historical examples of art historical writing and art criticism to contemporary and experimental modes of writing on art. The aim of the course is to stimulate students to write and to develop a personal ‘voice’.

For 2nd, 3rd and 4th year BA students of the Royal Academy of Art, Royal Conservatoire and Leiden University.

Full attendance is obligatory in order to receive study points towards the Individual Study Trajectory (5 EC).

15 students will be selected for the course.
The course will be in English.

The course consists of fourteen meetings during the 1st semester on Wednesday evenings from 19.00-21.00 hrs in room PB004.  

  • Wednesday 9 September 2015 – Writing Art Criticism 1
  • Wednesday 16 September 2015 – Writing Art Criticism 2
  • Wednesday 23 September 2015 – Writing Art History 3
  • Wednesday 30 September 2015 – Writing Art History 4
  • Wednesday 7 October 2015 – Artists’ writing 5
  • Wednesday 14 October 2015 – Artists’ writing 6
  • Wednesday 28 October 2015 – Fact and fiction 7
  • Wednesday 4 November 2015 – Fact and fiction 8
  • Wednesday 11 November 2015 – Writing Music 9
  • Wednesday 18 November 2015 – Writing Music 10
  • Wednesday 25 November 2015 – Writing as experiment 11
  • Wednesday 2 December 2015 – Writing as experiment 12
  • Wednesday 9 December 2015 – Writing art (workshop) 13
  • Wednesday 16 December 2015 – Evaluation 14

Apply before 16 June 2015 by sending a brief motivation to:

The set-up of the course is thematic. A guest lecturer who is an expert in the particular field of writing will address each theme in a lecture or presentation. The lecturer will expand on the theme, using examples from writing practices. Preceding the lecture, each lecturer will give students an assignment to write a particular type of text. The texts will be commented on briefly at the end of the lecture. Students will then rewrite the text for the workshop the following week. During the workshop all the texts will be discussed in the group and the lecturer will give in-depth feedback. Short writing exercises are part of the workshops.

The final results will be collected in a portfolio. ECTS credits will be awarded on the basis of the portfolio and on the performance in class. A writing coach will be present at all lectures and workshops and will co-supervise the students’ writing.

How to write art criticism? What is art criticism? How to convey visual experience and engage the reader? Who is your audience?

  • Lecturer: Dr. Janneke Wesseling
    Co-director PhDArts, Leiden University; Professor Art and Theory, KABK, The Hague; Art critic NRC Handelsblad

How to approach a subject from (recent) art history? How to compare approaches and opinions, what is academic writing and why is this necessary?

  • Lecturer: Dr. Kitty Zijlmans
    Professor at the Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society. Expertise in contemporary art, theory and methodology, world art studies

Artists writing on their own work, as critics and/or as researchers.

  • Lecturer: Dr. Nicoline Timmer
    Artist and writer

What is the role of fact and fiction in writing on art? What are facts when dealing with art? How can fiction be applied in writing on art? Are there limitations?

  • Lecturer: Miek Zwamborn
    Artist and writer

How to write around music? How to write on something as ephemeral and volatile as music? And how to judge concert reviews?

  • Lecturer: Dr. Marcel Cobussen
    Lecturer at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts of Leiden University; Improvising musician

The subject or topic of a text will be explored in and through the writing itself, for example by using ‘constraints’, such as a cadavre exquis.

  • Lecturer: Drs. Anna Arov
    Artist and poet

Final assignment: students choose a personal perspective and approach in writing a text.

  • Lecturer: writing coach Drs. Liesbeth Fit
    Independent writer and editor; Lecturer at the Design Academy Eindhoven and the KABK, The Hague

What did students learn? Did students develop a personal perspective, or several perspectives, on writing and on art? What is their ambition?
Students hand in their portfolios.

  • Lecturers: Liesbeth Fit and Janneke Wesseling

This course is organised in collaboration with the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) of Leiden University.

For more information about the course see: