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Art Appreciation: Art Research Strategy

This guide is designed to assist you in finding information on artists and/or the field of art/art history

This guide gives you some tools to better understand how a work of art is a product of a particular place and time in history. The style - how they used the principles and elements of art, media (materials), and subject matter can all be clues to what people of a certain culture thought was important in their world and what they thought was beautiful. Through the tabs above, explore recommended websites, databases, and books to give you a better idea of how art documents human history

principles of design.  elements of art

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Art Research Strategy

To learn about art, you have to work with a variety of strategies. You can search by artist, title, subject, medium of the work, the style of the work, the period and place in which the work was made, or anything that the art itself references (could be another time or place). 

I. Search your SUBJECT from major general categories: portrait, nude, still life, landscape, religious, non-objective / abstract (no identifiable real thing), genre (scenes from everyday life) - IF APPLICABLE! Many decorative arts have no subject - a chair is a chair.
II. Search your MEDIUM starting with technique books and articles to learn about how your piece was made: oil, mixed-media, wood, acrylic, ink, types of photograph, what type/process of clay, etc.
III. Search your STYLE by identifying what period of history your work was made and where. Identify in a general art history book what the characteristics of this style were. Search articles for that type of style, perhaps in conjunction with your artist's name or the subject.

Learn how to talk about the elements of art and principles of design - line, color, texture, space, shape, rhythm, unity, balance, etc. in general books and websites aimed at artists.


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Need help? See the "How to Search JSTOR" guide.