Short Guide to Writing About Art by Sylvan

The Principles of a Painting Analysis in a Short Guide to Writing About Art By Sylvan

There are several mystical books that address physical art without revealing underpining theory. For instance, there are multitudes of people who are passionate about the arts, but have no knowledge of it. Their main quest is to find a book that offers theoretical and impactful knowledge on the subject that they love. The writer of this review finds his quest quenched in the book, The Principles of a Painting Analysis in A Short Guide to Writing about Art, authored by Sylvan Barnet. To begin with, this book offers a simplistic but fundamental lead and guidance to an amateur and informal artist. It is neither too advanced nor too basic for a budding artist. This is essentially applicable to one eager to practice serious writing on the arts.

The Principles of a Painting in a Short Guide to Writing about Art is 384 accurate and fundamental pages of concise and detailed instructions. These are particularly applicable to not only analysis, description, the examination and evaluation of arts, but also paragraph development, documenting sources of art, maintaining objectivity and eluding to sexism and Eurocentric conjectures (Rose, 2000). These elements substantially support this book for use in introductory Art History courses for students as well as instructors.

The simplicity with which this book is developed makes it an essential and effective pedagogical tool for the arts. Quintessentially, it is an indispensable book for eager students to learn art history as well as writing, especially where the students or learners have little or no prior experience. Notwithstanding, the writer finds the book additionally an equally excellent companion to students, learners and instructors keen to refresh their memory on arts history and arts writing. Rereading the book ushers an experience such as rekindling a friendship with a long lost pal that proved to be articulate and brilliant.

The ‘Sample Critical Essay’ that covers pages 14 – 21 offers an instance for the arts writing student to atone for their writing ills and improve on the same (Barnet, 2000). The essay bestows familiarity with junior college or high school level of writing. It reminds the learner of immense opportunities to be acquainted with history writing, making necessary revisions where necessary and finally composing successful art writing. Arts students will no longer concur that it is difficult to write and distinguish between an analysis evaluation and a thesis statement with this volume’s concise and clear format and insertion of quotable phrases.

A note on outlining at the very end of this section provides the student and arts writing learner with a precise, complete and accurate lead on laying out an outline prior to writing. Still, the sections offer an opportunity to the learner to chart out a paper outline. In consequence, the student is expected to develop strong topic sentences, realign paragraphs as well as orient the same towards a sound art paper argument.

Moreover, the clearly written and concise language addresses a number of art writing genres such as catalogs, essays, exhibitions as well as reviews. This creates an all-inclusive arts writing instruction manual to professional writers and in particular, the budding arts writer. It includes leads in forming personal opinions on art, an individualized writing style and the different specifics to address while writing on an art medium (Susan, 2000). I have a great appreciation of the book in regards to its contents and presentation. Nonetheless, the last part of the book is rather heavy in grammar, bibliography and form. However, the other parts were well put. I recommend this book to anyone interested in art writing with or without prior experience.

Rose, D. (2000, October 27). A Short Guide to Writing About Art (The Short Guide) (9780205708253): Sylvan Barnet: Books. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from A Short Guide to Writing About Art (Short Guides): Explore similar items. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2013, from

Barnet, S. (2000). A Short Guide to Writing About Art (6th ed.). New York: Longman.
E, W. S. (2000, September 28). A Short Guide to Writing About Art (9780321046055): Sylvan Barnet: Books. May 14, 2013, from