Art Exhibition Class

Exhibition Planning &
Gallery Management

MODULE 3: Biographical/Psychological review & proposal 






Listen to the in-class lecture and participate in the class discussion.

Students have to turn in their art review or show proposal each week.

You should be ready to present your finished review or show proposal in class every week.

[  ] Write a review of an biographical artwork in town (see below for details).

[  ] Make a show proposal poster for your exhibition about a retrospective look back at a single artists life work or a single period of an artist's work and it's relation to their life circumstances. Think in terms of your favorite artist or an artist you'd love to see a retrospective show of and how their life is reflected in their work.



Goal: Try to relate an artwork or artworks to what was happening in an artist’s life, the artist’s interests or a crucial period in an artist’s development.

Preparing to Write:

  • Select a work of art or works of art with some narrative or personal content.
  • Do some internet research on the artist and the key events in his or her life.
  • Investigate what is actually in the picture and how it may relate to the artist’s background, dreams, desires and motives.
  • Ask yourself, if these images emerged from in the artist’s conscious or unconscious intentions? What could they possibly mean or imply about what the artist is trying to communicate?
  • Try to focus as much on why an artist makes what they make as why it was made the way it is, or looks the way it looks.
  • Remember, all art is part of a life story, so incorporate some of the artist’s life story and struggles into your art review.


Writing Tips:

  • Almost all news reporting, especially tabloid report is a kind of sensational version of psycho-biography. Try not to write like a bad tabloid. Try to write like a well-informed news source.  
  • Make your writing interesting, full of observation and insights, but don’t assert your observations as facts unless they are indeed facts. Instead, explore the many possible motivations that exist for making any one work and don’t settle on just one single interpretation.
  • Make sure to connect your insights to imagery. Don’t just tell the story of the life of the artist, instead, try to tell us how their work shows us something about their life. Be descriptive and engaging!
  • Write the way you would want someone else to write about your life and art, with sincerity, thoughtfulness, and genuine considerations in discerning both your implicit and explicit motivations.


Hint: You should try to discover personal meanings behind the work or works of art that may not always be obvious at first, but which might form an important part of how we think about an artists’ work.

Art Review: 3-5 paragraphs, 1.5 type, 3-5 pictures when possible.




















Optional Reading (Art 560)

[  ] A Short Guide to Writing About Art. By Sylvan Barnet. Psychoanalytic Studies (pgs. 165-166)

[  ] Beginning Theory: An introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. By Peter Barry. Chapter 5: Psychoanalytic Criticism

[  ] The Methodologies of Art: An Introduction. By Laurie Schneider Adams. Chapter 9: Psychoanalysis I: Freud & Chapter 10: Psychoanalysis II: Winnicott and Lacan




Online Resources: Biography

Writing About Art: The Biography

A list of great artist biographies on Amazon

Notable Artist Biographies

Bio. Famous Artists

What we learned from writing 7,000 Artist Bios




Online Resources: Psychology

How Artists See: Bringing Psychology to the Surface

Psychology of Art, Wiki

Art Psychology


Alan de Botton on the 7 Psychological Functions of Art




Online resources: Psychology

The psychology of Creativity

The Psychology of Aesthetics




Video Resources

Art and Identity | Modern Art & Ideas

Artist Biographies

Artist Biographies and Documentaries

Art Documentaries

Artist Biographies for Kids




Artist Biographers / Psychological Interpreters 



Biography / Psychology  as Method

This method of writing often describes how an artist’s life and personal struggles are reflected in their works and their different periods of artistic production.

Example of a Biographical Art review:

Example of a Psychological Art review:




CLASS DISCUSSION - How do you think an artist's life effects their work?

Solo Shows


Solo Shows


100 Best Galleries




700,000 +


Claude Monet, Champs-Elysees, 1840-1926, 780,000 visitors in 4 months



Yayoi Kunama: Infinite Obsession, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, 754, 565




Picasso, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (2010), 703,256


600,000 +



Jeff Koons: The Retrospective, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 650, 045.




Anish Kapoor, Guggenheim, Bilbao, 601, 064


500, 000 +




David Grober: The Heart is Not a Metaphor, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 564, 917.


Yoko Ono: One Women Show 1960-71, Museum of Modern Art, 535, 270.


Salvador Dali, Instituto Tomie Ohatke, Sao Paulo, 537, 756.


Jean-Michel Basquiat: Nows the Time, Guggenheim Bilbao, 538, 475.


Van Gogh: The Adventure of Becoming an Artist, National Art Center Tokyo, 595,346.


Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Smithsonian American Museum, Smithsonian American Museum, Washington D.C., 586,000


The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Smithsonian American Art (SAAM), Washington D.C., 580, 400.


Carlos Amorales, NGV International, Melbourne, 512, 583.


Pierre Bonnard, Musee, d'Orsay, Paris, 510,412




Robert Rauschenberg: Gluts, 2010, Guggenheim, Bilbao


Cezanna, Philadelphia Musuem of Art, 1996, 548,000 visitors


J.W. Turner, Grand Palais, 1983-84 Paris, Half of a million Visitors (50th Anniversary of the British Council)



Yayoi Kunama: Infinite Obsession, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Sao, Paulo, 522,136. 


400,000 +



Ryan Trecartin: Re'Search Wait'S, NGV International, Melbourne, 493, 824.


Kandinsky, Everything Starts from a Dot, Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil, 441,865

Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, Guggenheim Bilbao, 493, 730.




Head: Milton Machado, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro. 447,799.


Ron Mueck, Pinacoteca do Estado, Sao Paulo, 402,117


Damien Hirst, Tate, 2012, 463,087


300,000 +



Rene Magritte, National Center Tokyo, 338,478.


Ai Weiwei, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, 372, 813.


Masters of Impressionism, Claude Monet, 2014, K11 Art Mall, Shanghai, 340,000 visitors





Rembrandt: The Late Works, National Gallery, 264,488


Late Turner: Painting Set Free, Tate, Britain, 267,704.



Ron Mueck, Museu, de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janerio, 298,848






Sonia Delaunay, Tate Modern, 141,637



Sam Taylor-Johnson, Saatchi Gallery, London, 116,426


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