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Art History & Appreciation: Home

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

Introductory Art History Books

Art: A Visual History

Art: A Visual History

"This beautifully illustrated book offers a comprehensive guide to western artists, themes, paintings, techniques and stories."

Art firsts: the story of art in 30 pioneering works

Art Firsts: the Story of Art in 30 Pioneering Works

"Art Firsts brings together 30... pioneering firsts to piece together an original approach to looking at and appreciating art, as well as understanding where it has come from and how it relates to you." (Provided by publisher.)

Contemporary art

Contemporary Art

"... Explains the many aspects of contemporary art, from its backstory to today, including different approaches, media and recurring themes."

Abstract art: a global history

Abstract Art: a Global History

"... Focusing on subject matter and content rather than simply color and form, Karmel reconsiders the history of abstraction from a global perspective." (Book jacket.)

Art History

Art History

Classic art history survey textbook combining "formal analysis with contextual art history." (Google Books, 2024)

How to Understand Art

How to Understand Art

"... Guides the reader to re-evaluate their experiences of looking at art by learning to move beyond 'I don't know much about art, but I know what I like,' and shift towards an understanding of 'why...'"

A Chronology of Art

A fresh take on the history of art, using cultural timelines to reveal little-known connections and influences between artworks and artistic movements.

Art in America

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). All of these strategies might not be relevant to your selected work of art and that's ok. 

I. Who made it? Search by the ARTIST'S NAME. Biographical information can be very helpful in understanding the context of the creation of the work, especially if they are very famous.
II. What does it look like? Search the STYLE of the piece. 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 of the work.
III. When and where was it made? Search by the PERIOD and LOCATION. Examples: Nineteenth century France, 10th century Japanese, Contemporary American art.
IV. What is the work an image of or about? 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 arts have no subject - a chair is a chair, but it is furniture and will likely have things in common with other pieces of furniture in terms of how style and theme is expressed in that form.
V. What's it made of? 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.


Art Principles & Elements of Design: Think about these things when you're researching

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. Use the vocabulary of formal analysis - line, color, texture, space, shape, rhythm, unity, balance, etc. - explain how the cultural context of a work is translated into visual art. 

principles of design.  elements of art















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