Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic for New York magazine
Photo credit: Celeste Sloman
About Jerry Saltz
Jerry Saltz is the Senior Art Critic for New York magazine, where he writes about the constantly shifting dynamics of the art world, from up-and-coming artists to billionaire collectors to the role of criticism. Hailed as a “critic of the people” by Architectural Digest, he democratizes art for a broad audience through his irreverent column and his social media channels, where has nearly one million followers. In 2018, he won the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism for “My Life as a Failed Artist,” an essay about how his disappointing career as an artist is responsible for his success as a critic.
Saltz’s viral New York cover story, “How to Be an Artist,” sold nearly 400,000 print editions of the magazine and gained over 250,000 readers online, ultimately earning a National Magazine Award. In this daring to-do list for aspiring creatives, Saltz shared answers to the questions artists ask the most: “How do I get started? How do I get better? And is this even art at all?” Saltz’s forthcoming book, also entitled How to Be an Artist, expands on his prize-winning piece with dozens of brand new guidelines, exercises, prompts, and tips designed to help artists do what they do best—create. In his entertaining lectures, he dispenses valuable advice for amateurs and professionals alike, along with sharp analysis of the role of criticism in the art world today.
Saltz has been a columnist for New York magazine sine 2007. Formerly, he was the senior art critic for The Village Voice for almost ten years, where he was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. A frequent guest lecturer, he has spoken at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney Museum, and many others, and has appeared at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, and elsewhere. He has also contributed to Art in America, Flash Art International, Frieze, and Modern Painters, among other publications. He was the sole advisor for the 1995 Whitney Bienniel. In 2007, he received the Frank Jewett Mather Award for art criticism. Saltz has received honorary doctorates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Kansas City Art Institute. He was born and raised in Chicago and now lives in New York City.
How to Be an Artist
Art is for everyone. This snappy, practical talk is designed to help audiences break through creative blocks, spark motivation, build good habits, and help painters, photographers, writers, and artists of all stripes realize their dreams. Saltz provides short, actionable exercises and activities that appeal to everyone from novices to professional artists.
The Art World Problem
Popularly known as a “critic of the people,” Jerry Saltz possesses an admirable talent for accessibly dissecting art for all audiences. In this talk, Saltz addresses the current state of the art world, from systemic its problems to its emerging trends, while touching on key issues in contemporary visual art and criticism.
Praise for Jerry Saltz
Praise for How to be an Artist
Saltz offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, ‘How can I be an artist?’ …A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.— Kirkus Reviews
Trim, brilliant. . . . Whether you’re a proud amateur or a frustrated expert, these are words worth taking to heart. Saltz’s knowledge veins run deep, and his voice is crisp, frank, intimate and urgent.— BookPage
An excellent read for any would-be artist who’s looking for a blast of uplifting and inspirational advice[,] grounded in the real world.— Creative Boom
Saltz is to be applauded for his direct confrontation of issues of personal trauma, systemic sexism and financial hardship – and for proclaiming, in the fifth tip, that ‘All art comes from love’. Joy is palpable in these pages. We are told to connect with our raw emotions, to admire the constant creative work our artist’s brain is undertaking, to learn from our mistakes and to shake off criticism. Saltz even tells us to dance. We need such thinking right now.— Apollo
How to Be an Artist dispenses practical wisdom, inspiration, humor and honesty to nourish the artist in all of us. For those already taken by Saltz’s passionate criticism and witty storytelling—as well as those looking to persevere in creative professions—the book will prove to be a beautiful resource.— David Graver, Cool Hunting
The creative salve you need to assuage self-doubt and find inspiration.— Fast Company
Saltz has not written a book for insiders, but for the novice enthusiast – something all of us have been at one time. Valuable insight on the creative process [with] a surprising amount of solid advice.— Frieze
Saltz has a rare ability, useful for a critic, to speak declaratively without coming off as pushy or didactic. . . . The overwhelming impression is one of urgent generosity. . . . While others have written about the fear of failure that lies at the heart of any creative pursuit[,] few have offered such concrete advice for overcoming it.— Slate
An imaginative “handbook” for creatives of all kinds, full of wit, exercises, and insightful advice.— The Cut
I am so blown away by [How to Be an Artist], because it takes the tools of the literal masters and offers them to whoever wants them. Any reader would be lucky to escape their self-doubt to indulge in this straightforward, funny, and delightful guide.— Jill Soloway
How to Be an Artist is such a fun and juicy read for artists of all kinds. ‘Artists are cats,’ he says—such a simple but brilliant description of the artist’s relationship to the world. I read this and thought, I guess I am a real artist!— Kim Gordon
I was so moved by Jerry Saltz’s incredible new book, How to Be an Artist. . . . Deep and beautiful insights into how humans create.— Amy Sedaris
Being an artist is a lonely pursuit—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the rest of your life. Most of the time it hurts. This book will help the pain.— Tracey Emin
What is an artist? If most things make you bored or sad, but creating things makes you feel better, that's a sign that Fate is ushering you over to a tiny, rickety chair with a sign overhead that says, Hey, you. You might be an artist. The challenge then is, how to be a better artist. And Jerry Saltz is right: The truest answer is work. Practice. Make mistakes. Tear it up. Do it again. Get better. Keep going.— Roz Chast
An inspiring guide to making your art, putting it out into the world, and dealing with the consequences. I found a lot to steal here, and you will too.— Austin Kleon
Jerry is an impassioned lover of all art and all artists, heartbroken when they’re not good and joyous when they are. You don’t read so much as bathe in his prose, turbulent but clear, emerging each time as hopeful as this morning.— Peter Schjeldahl
In How to Be an Artist, Jerry Saltz is so right-on it scares me.— Cindy Sherman
Praise for Seeing Out Loud: Village Voice Art
In Seeing Out Loud, Saltz critically engages with notable works of art by over one-hundred notable artists ranging from Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol to Matthew Barney, Gerhard Richter, and Chris Ofili. These reviews appeared in the Village Voice between November 1998 and winter 2003. "Jerry Saltz is the best informed and hair-trigger liveliest of contemporary art critics, tracking pleasure and jump-starting intelligence on the fly. Jerry's fast takes usually stand up better in retrospect than other people's long views.— Peter Schjedahl
Jerry Saltz looks at art from the perspective of the viewer, the ignorant, the lover, and the enemy. His writing is overwhelmingly passionate, yet without sentimentality. His words pierce the content and beauty of each work of art to test its endurance in time and memory.— Francesco Bonami, Curator, 2003 Venice Biennale
Books by Jerry Saltz
Media About Jerry Saltz
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- Jerry Saltz travels from New York, NY
How to Be an Artist
“Inspiration leaps off the pages from Jerry Saltz’s new book on creativity. One wants to say he’s revealing secrets, but really, he’s revealing intuition—intuition formed from decades of thinking about art. This book is for the artist or non-artist, for the person who gets plain English, for the person who understands that practical talk can coax out the mystical messages that lie underneath.” —Steve Martin