This guide is intended to help you research topics in art and art history, a field with a wide variety of library resources. Art research encompasses the study of painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, design, graphic arts, and intersects other subjects such as geography, anthropology, and mass media.
Using the tabs at the top of the Research Guide, navigate through the tabs to locate the specific type of resources you need including reference encyclopedias and dictionaries, books, journals and research databases, and web resources. Use the tab for Image Resources to find links to many online sources for images to use for study and research.
Hans Bellmer, The Hand Hat (from the book, Le Surréalisme), circa 1947. Image courtesy of ARTstor.
Include the following information in your paper:
1. Formal Analysis
Describe the technique and style of the art object using the elements and principles of design for your discussion.
Talk about the choice of medium for the work.
2. Contextual Analysis
a. What is the mode of representation (abstract, representational, etc.)? What is the subject matter? Is there a universal theme being addressed (shame, love, loneliness, etc)?
b. What is the style of the work (period, region)?
c. Biographic information on the artist: birthplace, childhood, influences, history, patron, school, style. What does the artist have to say about the work?
d. What was happening in the world during the time this object was created? Was the artist working during a time of war or prosperity? Discuss the social and political climate that would affect how the artist perceived the world and what may have motivated him/her. Were there any other relevant works by this artist? Did he gain success during his lifetime?
c. Analyze the iconography
3. Subjective Analysis
a. How does the artwork make you feel? Do you like it?
b. Do you have any associations with it (person, place, experience, dream)?
c. Do you resonate with the iconography/theme?