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Art History: 1: Choose Your Piece
This guide demonstrates the Art History research process, gives examples of art theories, searching strategies, and links to citation help.
This Art History research guides you through the process of art history research, from selecting a piece to finding sources.
1: Choose Your Piece
2: Review and Evaluate the Piece
3: Develop Your Argument
4. Art Analysis and Theories
5. Searching Strategies
6. Citation Help
Step 1: Choose a piece, artifact, or artist
Choose something (or someone):
you are interested in learning more about
you feel makes a social, culture, historical, or political impact
that can be researched
that is human-designed (NOT found in nature, intangible, supernatural, or mythical)
It can be anything visual, like:
a piece of art, like a painting or print
graffiti or a cereal box
marketing or political campaigns
3D objects, like statues or cars
physical spaces, like malls or museums
landscape designs, like gardens or a college campus
Advice from your librarian
Unlike other fields of study, there isn't a lot of art history scholarship. If your piece or artist isn't well known or still alive and creating, chances are the amount of scholarship or any written sources about them are going to be even fewer. You can still research the piece or artist. You have to be more creative and broaden your search. Use the questions in Step 2 to think creatively about ways to research the piece(s) or artist you are interested in.
Over one million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences with a set of tools to view, present, and manage images for research and teaching. All users must register for a personal Artstor account in order to download images. Use the "register" link at the upper right after accessing the database. Licensed for BGSU Main Campus Users only.
Faculty can create course folders in ARTstor to share specific images with students. In order to access this feature, faculty must register for ARTstor instructor privileges, which requires an authorization code and password. Contact the Jerome Library reference desk for this information.
A selection of digitized collections from the BGSU Special Collections, made available on JSTOR’s Community Collections discovery platform. Current BGSU provided collections include: BG News; Key Yearbooks; Football Game Programs; Football Media Guides; Nickel Weeklies; Marine Board of Investigations; and Sheet Music Collection.
Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive provides access to fully searchable scans of a number of music magazines held in the BGSU Music Library. Genres covered include folk, hip-hop, jazz, pop, punk, and indie. A full list of titles and coverage is available here.
Thousands of images relating to people, natural science, places, history, maps, and flags. The collection consists of a wide array of photos and maps, with an emphasis on world news and events. Other areas of coverage include contemporary and historical photos of people, places, and the natural kingdom.
Step 2: Consider the context
WHO is/was the creator?
Is/was it an individual, group, or corporation?
What else has the author created?
Who did the creator make the visual for? Who is/was affected by it?
What do you know about the creator/s background, heritage, education, etc?
WHAT kind of an artifact or piece is it?
What genre or category would you label it as?
What seems to be the creator's attitude toward the subject?
What makes it special or important? What impact has it had on society or culture?
What is the artifact made out of (wood, stone, plaster, etc.) and what is included in it (images, colors, shapes, text, etc.)?
WHERE was the artifact or piece originally constructed?
Where was the artifact intended to be viewed?
Where was it actually viewed?
Where might the artifact be viewed in the future?
Who owned the artifact originally? Who owns it now?
Was it stolen or taken from the original owner(s)? Or taken from the country of origin from colonizers?
WHEN was the artifact or piece created?
What other historical and cultural events were occurring the same time period? How did they influence the artifact and/or the creator?
How did the artifact and/or the creator influence the cultural and historical events during the time period?
When did the artifact have its greatest significance? Might that happen again?
This best-selling text has guided tens of thousands of art students through the writing process. Students are shown how to analyze pictures (drawings, paintings, photographs), sculptures and architecture, and are prepared with the tools they need to present their ideas through effective writing.
Sayre's (Oregon State U., Corvallis, Ore.) text remains one of the most useful resources for a new student to art history. Helpful for research and writing, it's also a rewarding guide to some of art history's basic tenets, such as looking critically at art and understanding art and architecture in
Since the 19th century, when art history became an established academic discipline, works of art have been "read" in a variety of ways. These different ways of describing and interpreting art are the methodologies of artistic analysis, the divining rods of meaning.Regardless of a work's perceived difficulty, an art object is, in theory, complex. Every work of art is an expression of its culture (time and place) and its maker (the artist) and is dependent on its media (what it's made of). The methodologies discussed here--formal analysis, iconology and iconography, Marxism, feminism, biography and autobiography, psychoanalysis, and structuralism--reflect the multiplicity of meanings in an artistic image.