Critical Read brings the true stories of the fine, literary and performing arts to a wide readership. We publish artwork biographies, reported stories, profiles, cultural history, essay, interviews and first person stories. 

Our mission is to re-imagine critical writing about the arts, and to make American art and art history more accessible and discoverable. Before you pitch us, please take the time to read the work on our site.

We read pitches and unsolicited submissions. We read pitches for Artwork Biographies from September 6, 2021 to December 31, 2021. We accept personal submissions year-round. Please allow up to six months for response. We will only consider previously unpublished work. 

We pay our writers. Rates vary by assignment. 

For our new series, Open Canon, we're looking for stories of underappreciated American artists. 

We are particularly interested in those writers, artists, and performers whose work has been unfairly overlooked or forgotten because of their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. 

We want short, informative profiles of these American artists whose work hasn't historically been considered canonical but maybe should be. What was their most important contribution to American art history? Was it a particular way of working, an idea, a style? 

Please note: This is not the space for contemporary artists. Those interested in pitching stories about contemporary artists should look at our Pitch a Reported Story form. 

Artwork biographies are our deep dives. These stories are fact-based and narrative-driven. They balance opinion with  research and reporting, but their emphasis is on storytelling. You can think of them as  non-academic criticism aimed at the general interest reader, or as the  best program notes you've ever read. 

For these stories we are  particularly interested in non-canonical American artists whose legacies  have not been adequately protected.   

Artwork biographies are typically assigned at 4,000-5,000 words.  

Critical Read is a nonprofit organization supporting the promotion of the arts and culture in the United States. By 'art' we mean nonprofit arts including but not limited to ballet, drama, classical music, opera, jazz, performance, installation, visual art and more. We have a particular interest in deserving works of art that are not (yet) considered canonical. Our priority is works of art by American artists. We are very interested in pitches about works of art by American artists whose legacies have not been adequately protected. 

We will consider pitches for stories that touch on works of obscure or vintage pop culture and Americana. Your pitch should not be tied to the publicity cycle.  

To pitch an artwork biography, please complete the form. This will tell us which work of art you want to profile, define the characters in the story, explain the central conflict and themes of the story you want to tell. If we are interested we'll ask you to submit a formal pitch, including the following:

  • A draft outline of how you would treat the subject
  • A sample introduction to the work – ~500 words

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