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Learning to Crawl like an Art Critic

Course Description

It is the habit of art critics to go to a neighborhood - Chelsea, LES, Bushwick, 57th Street, DUMBO etc. - and make the rounds of the galleries, keeping up to date on the work being shown while looking for an exhibition to critique for publication. Most critics do this as a matter of course; it is part of their discipline. But others (laymen, if you will) mirror the practice, with lesser to greater degrees of professional austerity. This has been called an "art crawl", a term institutionalized by the Rema Hort Mann Art Foundation, which conducts seasonal "art crawls" as fundraisers. The practice is also common to the MFA curriculum, in which the artist/professor leads the class in tours of galleries, visits to studios, etc.
This class will make the rounds (optimum group, no more than 12 class members) of galleries for 2 - 3 hours (optimum number of galleries visited, 8 - 10), discuss the work being shown, the issues being raised, how the work fits into the career of the artist, and other topics relevant to the exhibition. Students will take notes during the crawl, and will submit a one page text that reviews one or more of the exhibitions visited. We are not seeking polished prose, rather a record of the issues raised and ideas transmitted, using the commercial galleries as a ready made cultural environment.

Depending on availability, there might be occasional discussions in the galleries with staff and/or the exhibiting artist. The class would probably alternate days of gallery visits with meetings of the class at BHQFU to share the reviews and discuss the issues which have resulted from the crawls.


Steven Kaplan

Steven Kaplan has been visiting galleries and writing about art since the 1980s, as well as curating exhibitions in such arcane neighborhoods as SoHo and the East Village. He has been active as an organizer of art fairs, has edited art magazines and websites, and is a frequent blogger on He is a former commenter on Most relevant to this course, he has, for years, led groups of art patrons and connoisseurs as part of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Art Crawlin Chelsea and the Lower East Side. He has literally "walked the walk".