Beyond the mainstream essays on modern and contemporary art
You may have to write an art exhibition review for your job as a writer, or for a school assignment. Reflecting on and writing about art can be a creative experience, and reviews are very important for spreading awareness about new exhibitions and giving artists feedback. A well-written review should incorporate your viewing experience into an informed and critical analysis.
Method One of Three:Of course it's a good idea to have a general idea of what kind of artwork and/or exhibition you are going to see before your initial visit, but before you do extensive background research, it is advisable to visit the exhibition without too many preconceived ideas. Absolutely read any material that the gallery or museum offers, and you may do a little more research after your visit, especially if the exhibition left you with questions about the artist or about the artwork. It is always important to give your reader information that will help them understand the art and your ideas about the exhibition. Do not include a full-blown biography of the artist. The life of the artist is only important if it has a direct effect on the art that you are examining, or if it affects the viewer's experience of the work. For example, you do not need to include where the artist was born unless the art work is about this place and it will help the reader understand the work better. Useful information can include the period in which the artist worked, major influences on the artist that can be seen in the exhibited work, and any personal information that helps to explain the style or subject matter of the art. Similarly, you'll want to include any information that is relevant (and significant) to specific art in the exhibition. 
Experiencing and Describing the Exhibition Edit
Walk through the entire physical space to appreciate the exhibition as a whole, and get a sense of how it matches the curatorial goals.
- Art is never created in a vacuum. It is important to understand the historical, cultural and social circumstances behind the creation and creator. This will help you better understand the intentions of the artist.
Chronicle your viewing experience with notes. Although you will not want to include personal musings and notes in the review itself, when you visit the exhibition it's a great idea to write down notes of your impressions and experiences. Jot down all that you think and feel when viewing the work or works, and use your notes when you write your analysis later. Think about the goals of the exhibition. It can be helpful to ask the following questions: 
- After your initial walk-through, select a few works in the exhibition was primary examples to write about, and look at them very carefully. Pay attention to the larger composition and organization of each individual work, as well as the little details the become apparent upon close examination.
- Why are the works of art ordered or arranged this way?
- Does a particular work stand out from the rest?
- Is there a theme or a subtext to the exhibition?
- Does the theme or thesis become obvious as I walk through the space?
- How is this exhibition different from others I've seen?
Write a description of the exhibition (a visual inventory). What did you see? What is there? How did it look? You will want to save your interpretations for later in the review. Write a clear description of the significant formal elements (elements of the form) of each work of art that you discuss (for example, colors, shapes, line, use of light and dark, space, etc.), and then describe the subject matter. Your goal is to help the reader imagine what the exhibition looks like. This sort of straight forward description can be useful for your own references as you reflect on your own experience. Write about distinctive features of the exhibition. Analyze the use of shading, colors, line, the medium, etc. Then look for iconographic and symbolic elements in the work. Answer the question "What do you see?" in a way that goes beyond just physical description.
Identify important themes. Art historical scholarship can contribute. For example, if the exhibition features a Baroque artist, you should reference historical Baroque styles and content, and use appropriate terminology. Critique the exhibition. "Criticism" does not mean finding fault with your subject. Critical writing involves examining the evidence (visual or other) to make informed evaluations and conclusions. Your opinion is valid, but do not offer simple opinions before you have established evidence from your observations ad your analysis. Evaluate how effectively the artwork and the curatorial decisions (placement, viewing conditions, accompanying literature, etc.) communicate the thesis, or theme, of the exhibition. Consider subject matter and the artist's rendering of the subject matter. Engage the context of the works, and evaluate the exhibition in a nuanced way that highlights important themes.
If you can meet with a docent or curator, that's great. This can help you look at the work and better understand its contexts, and this can also give you insight into the curatorial process and the ideas the were intended to be communicated by the exhibition. Museum/Gallery personnel may be able to offer insights into the exhibition or individual works that are not readily available, as well as the rationale behind the arrangement of the space and pieces. 
- It is not enough to simply say you like or dislike a work; you should be able to say why. It is fine to mention that a particular piece evokes a certain feeling as long as you are specific (what aspect of the work triggers that particular emotion?) At this point you can also consider how the display, lighting, and the arrangement, as well as the choice of work, contributes to the effectiveness of the exhibition.
- Consider this as a persuasive argument and use evidence and research to back up your interpretation(s).
Another approach would be to interview a fellow attendee about their experience of the exhibition. This is a good way to see how your experience and insights compare to another viewer. Start with general questions and move on to more directed questions that address specific pieces within the exhibition.
- It is not necessary to speak with a Museum/Gallery staff member, or with a docent (docents are generally volunteers). Curators generally do not have time in their schedules to talk to visitors about their shows (although you may get lucky!). Besides, you need to remember that your review is not just a summary of the thesis and the creation of the exhibition -- it is the reviewer's job to look critically at the exhibition, from the point of view of a spectator. By all means search the internet or other current publications (newspapers, art magazines, etc.) to get an idea of what others have written about the exhibition. Most Museums and Galleries will issue press releases for upcoming exhibitions (and they will usually be happy to give you a copy). Press releases are good ways to learn what the curator(s) and sometimes the artist(s) want to communicate to people that visit the exhibition. An internet search can also yield public comments on a new exhibition, especially if it has been reviewed in online magazines, and all of that can help you formulate your own analysis and evaluation.
- For example, "How often do you visit art exhibitions?" A more directed question would be, "What do you think is the most appealing aspect of this exhibition?" "Why is that?"
Read other reviews on the exhibition. After you're done writing your piece, you may want to stand back and see how your thoughts compare to others reviewing the exhibition. You will have to be careful that the ideas of the other reviewer do not overly influence your experience of the work, but many times they can include information that add to your own understanding. Make sure to cite any other reviews that you use (and any other published sources of information, beyond the exhibition itself).Make sure the format of your review is correct. You will generally want to include an introduction paragraph with a thesis, sections about specific artworks in the exhibition, (including description(s), analysis, and then interpretation(s)), consideration of the space it is displayed in, and your own evaluations based on your analyses and interpretations. You will also want to include a concluding paragraph that wraps up major points and summarizes the review. 
Know the genre you're writing withinlanguage should be appropriate. Include meaningful adjectives and descriptions of the work. General adjectives like "beautiful" or vernacular expressions that relate to your personal reaction do not help the reader understand what is significant to your thesis. For example, unless you can properly and clearly explicate why it is beautiful, and what is significance about its beauty, the information is no useful to your reader (who may not agree, anyway!). Show that you took the time to understand and analyze the exhibition by choosing your words carefully. If this is a school assignment, most likely your teacher wants to learn more than whether it looked good to you or not. 
- If your teacher or professor gave a grading rubric for the assignment, make sure your work adheres to these standards including citation style, length, and subject requirements.
- Understand the connotations of your words. Remember that you are writing about art and terms like "classic" can have time-period connotations and should be used carefully and appropriately.
Know your audience. This is also important in the language that you use. If you are writing for an art history professor, chances are that they will not be impressed by jargon-laden, convoluted sentences. Rather, clear and precise language using appropriate terminology is generally what an art historian would want to read. However, if it is for a mainstream publication read by people without an extensive art history background, you will want to avoid jargon, and explain any discipline-specific terminology(that the public might not understand) within the text.
Make sure to cite your research properly. Although reviews are not usually the same as academic essays, you will not want to steal the words of another reviewer or background information without proper credit. Your publication may have certain requirements, but generally footnotes are avoided and you should simply find an in-text way to make reference to where you are getting your information. Finish early and let the work sit. This can be hard if you are on a strict deadline, but planning accordingly can help your writing immensely. Generally it is a good idea to write your review and then set it aside for at least 24 hours before re-visting it.
- This will help your writing and editorial process but can also help your evaluations. Perhaps you re-read a work after 24 hours and have come to a different analysis and conclusion about the exhibition. By making your writing a process, rather than a one-time sit down affair, you can get the best out of your work.
- If you can't find where the particular exhibition is or the artworks are displayed, you can ask someone at the museum who can point you in the right direction. Most museums will usually have maps or signs indicating where you should head to see the pieces you want to view.
Is there any way to make the article long without putting in unneeded details?
- If you stick to the major components of a review such as description, background and a critique of the work you should have plenty to write about. If you need more to write about you can include more relevant background on the artist, their time period, You can also look more through other people's reviews of the work, if available, and see what sorts of information they include. As long as you cover whatever the requirements are, you should have plenty of length to your review.