The headline goes at the top, to the side, or at the bottom, sometimes across the first two pages of the story, and laid out in a way that lets you know what the story is about. Magazines use puns or quote the titles of recent movies [What Lies Beneath] or, if more highbrow, include a colon in the title [Carved From Time: The Art of Ricky Swallow] or an en or em dash [Inflatable Debatable – A Personal Response to The Work of Christopher Langton]. Whatever the style, the first part of the title alludes to the theme of the artist’s work, the second spells it out.
The opening of the article grabs the reader’s attention by describing elements of the artist’s work out of context: a truck in a gallery, blood used as paint, the artist once wore a cat skin as a hat. The next part explains that these astonishing images are not part of a movie or come from some other fiction, but are a part of the artist’s work. While some people may think that these things are not art, others do [always remembering that people who don’t think these things are art are given inordinate amount of respect despite the fact they don’t know anything about the subject of the story. If the artist’s work is painting, this only comes into play if the work is abstract or rude].
Some biographical detail of the artist: where they work, how they make a living [if not from art the importance of the other work should be downplayed] and quirky connections to their practice is mentioned [“Jane may work in a call centre but the telephones in her sculptures bear no relation to her 9 to 5 life.”] International travel, overseas education in foreign art schools and personal experiences while abroad are also mentioned. The writer draws out some parallels to the artist’s work from their life if they wish. [“Perhaps the isolation of Richard’s early life growing up in rural Victoria has had an impact on the development of his work but the artist himself believes his time at Goldsmith’s College in London has had a bigger influence.”]
A poetic gambit is an option – [perhaps the isolation of Richard’s early life combined with his gay identity has created something of interest in his work] – so the writer will search for more clues in the work – colour, scale, materials. The poetic gambit may bear no relation to the work at all, but just be something the writer is interested in, and is pasted onto the story holus bolus. Alternatively, the writer uses an obscure quote from a little known academic essay, noted philosopher or a moviw. The theme of the article is stated and will be returned to over the course of the next 1500 words.
The images of the artist’s work go here. The image takes up a whole page or there are many of them and are collaged into a pattern that looks great. [In it is not 100 per cent necessary to actually show the work. The magazine may just feature photographs of the artist].
The main arguments of the article follow. The importance of the artist’s work is stated by the writer – the artist has been doing it for a long time, a lot of people like it, it’s new and fresh and is a sign of something new, it’s been seen in shows and exhibitions in Australia and overseas, the artist exhibits with a good gallery, the work is historically important, it’s ‘collectable’, someone more important and famous than the author of the article said the artist’s work was good, it’s culturally important.
Quotes from artist come next. The artist’s words are heavily edited for clarity. [If the artist is not known for his or her ability to articulate their ideas but the quotes in the story are extremely erudite, this is because the artist has insisted on answering questions via email only. Alternatively, they are the words of the artist’s partner and/or dealer].
Quotes from experts add weight to the article. Curators, art writers, market analysts, dealers and gallerists are quoted [usually in that order]. Although there may be an impression of nepotism or cronyism, the quotes come from “art world insiders” and therefore it is impossible to find anyone not tainted by self interest with an opinion worth printing.
The topical raison detre for the article will come somewhere here: forthcoming shows, selling work in the secondary market, a new book coming out.
The article concludes with a funny quote from someone or a return to the poetic theme of the article.