Internatonal Art English

When I Lived in Chicago, I went to art gallery openings every month. They were extremely crowded and you could not see the art. The guests were all talking in a language I did not understand. They talked about what the artist meant in their work, and it all sounded foreign to me. But it was a must attend, if you wanted to be part of the art scene. Today’s article clears it all up for me. There is an International Art English. So I found a website that writes your About Me. You’ll find my art and me translated into this International Art English. I don’t understand a word of it, do you… Please comment your thoughts below. Thanks and enjoy.

Jackie-Jacobson- artist


A user’s guide to artspeak


Why do so many galleries use such pompous, overblown prose to describe their exhibits?
Well, there’s now a name for it: International Art English.
And you have to speak it to get on. Andy Beckett enters the world of waffle
art speak - art gallery
‘ Art Speak – Anyone know what “transversal” means?’

The Simon Lee Gallery in Mayfair is currently showing work by the veteran American artist Sherrie Levine. A dozen small pink skulls in glass cases face the door. A dozen small bronze mirrors, blandly framed but precisely arranged, wink from the walls.In the deep, quiet space of the London gallery, shut away from Mayfair’s millionaire traffic jams, all is minimal, tasteful and oddly calming.

Until you read the exhibition hand-out – “Art Speak”


Art Speak - Internation Art English


“The artist brings the viewer face to face with their own preconceived hierarchy of cultural values and assumptions of artistic worth,” it says. “Each mirror imaginatively propels its viewer forward into the seemingly infinite progression of possible reproductions that the artist’s practice engenders, whilst simultaneously pulling them backwards in a quest for the ‘original’ source or referent that underlines Levine’s oeuvre.”

If you’ve been to see contemporary art in the last three decades, you will probably be familiar with the feelings of bafflement, exhaustion or irritation that such gallery prose provokes. You may well have got used to ignoring it. As Polly Staple, art writer and director of the Chisenhale Gallery in London, puts it: “There are so many people who come to our shows who don’t even look at the programme sheet. They don’t want to look at anywriting about art.”

Painting - Jackie Jacobson

Dahia IX •Tile Art Mural ©Jacobson

Art Speak –  About Artist Jackie Jacobson

Here’s an example of my information translated into Art Speak.

These are the questions I answered, followed by the Art Speak about me and my painting

1. Personal Data

Gender: Male Female
First name:
Date of birth:

2. Media

Painting and Drawing

3. My main themes are . . .

Form and Representation

The “ART SPEAK VERSION” of artist…Jackie Jacobson 

Her paintings are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in painting. By choosing mainly formal solutions, she tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations.

Her works are based on formal associations which open a unique poetic vein. Multilayered images arise in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality is questioned. Jackie Jacobson currently lives and works in Indio, CA.

Is this the artist Jackie Jacobson that you know?

Art Speak ??? Exclusive or gibberish.

And here’s the rest of the article…

With its pompous paradoxes and its plagues of adverbs, its endless sentences and its strained rebellious poses, much of this promotional writing serves mainly, it seems, as ammunition for those who still insist contemporary art is a fraud. Surely no one sensible takes this jargon seriously?

David Levine and Alix Rule do. “Art English is something that everyone in the art world bitches about all the time,” says Levine, a 42-year-old American artist based in New York and Berlin. “But we all use it.” Three years ago, Levine and his friend Rule, a 29-year-old critic and sociology PhD student at Columbia university in New York, decided to try to anatomise it. “We wanted to map it out,” says Levine, “to describe its contours, rather than just complain about it.”

They christened it International Art English, or IAE, and concluded that its purest form was the gallery press release, which – in today’s increasingly globalised, internet-widened art world – has a greater audience than ever. “We spent hours just printing them out and reading them to each other,” says Levine. “We’d find some super-outrageous sentence and crack up about it. Then we’d try to understand the reality conveyed by that sentence.”

Next, they collated thousands of exhibition announcements published since 1999 by e-flux, a powerful New York-based subscriber network for art-world professionals. Then they used some language-analysing software called Sketch Engine, developed by a company in Brighton, to discover what, if anything, lay behind IAE’s great clouds of verbiage.

Their findings were published last year as an essay in the voguish American art journal Triple Canopy; it has since become one of the most widely and excitedly circulated pieces of online cultural criticism. It is easy to see why. Levine and Rule write about IAE in a droll, largely jargon-free style. They call it “a unique language” that has “everything to do with English, but is emphatically not English. [It] is oddly pornographic: we know it when we see it.”

IAE always uses “more rather than fewer words”. Sometimes it uses them with absurd looseness: “Ordinary words take on non-specific alien functions. ‘Reality,’ writes artist Tania Bruguera, ‘functions as my field of action.’” And sometimes it deploys words with faddish precision: “Usage of the word speculative spiked unaccountably in 2009; 2011 saw a sudden rage for rupture; transversal now seems poised to have its best year ever.”

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