Artist statements for Dummies

 
 
 

An artist's statement (or artist statement) is an artist's written description of their work. The brief verbal representation is for, and in support of, his or her own work to give the viewer understanding. As such it aims to

inform,

connect

with an art context, and

present

the basis for the work; it is, therefore, didactic, descriptive, or reflective in nature. The artist's text intends to

explain,

justify,

extend,

and/or

contextualize

his or her body of work. It places or

attempts to place

the work in relationship to art history and theory, the art world and the times. Further, the statement serves to

show

that the artist is conscious of their intentions, aware of their practice and its position within art parameters and of the discourse surrounding it. Therefore not only does it

describe

and

place,

but it

indicates

the level of the artist's own comprehension of their field and making. The artist statement

serves

as a "vital link of communication between you [the artist], and the rest of the world." [1] Most people encounter a work of art through a reproduction first, and there are many elements that are not present within a reproduction. That is why it is imperative that the artist knows how to properly

convey

their work through their own words. What the artist writes in their statement may be integrated in wall text, hand outs at an exhibition or a paragraph in a press release. Judgments will be made based both on the nature of the art, as well as the words that accompany it. Artists often write a short (50-100 word) and/or a long (500-1000 word) version of the same statement, and they may maintain and revise these statements throughout their careers. [2] They may be edited to

suit

the requirements of specific funding bodies, galleries or call-outs as part of the application process.

 

The writing of artists' statements is a comparatively recent phenomenon beginning in the 1990s.[3] In some respects, the practice resembles the art manifesto and may derive in part from it. However, the artist's statement generally

speaks

for an individual rather than a collective, and is not strongly associated with polemic.[citation needed] Rather, a contemporary artist may be required to submit the statement in order to

tender

for commissions or apply for schools, residencies, jobs, awards, and other forms of institutional support, in justification of their submission. In their 2008 survey of North American art schools and university art programs, Garrett-Petts and Nash found that nearly 90% teach the writing of artist statements as part of the curriculum; in addition, they found that,

 

Like prefaces, forewords,prologues, and introductions to literary works, the artist statement

performs  

a vital if complex rhetorical role: when included in an exhibition proposal and sent to a curator, the artist statement usually

provides

a description of the work, some indication of the work's art historical and theoretical context, some background information about the artist and the artist's intentions, technical specifications – and, at the same time, it aims to

persuade

the reader of the artwork's value.

When hung on a gallery wall, the statement (or "didactic") becomes an invitation, an explanation, and, often indirectly, an element of the installation itself.[4]

 
 
 
 
 
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