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VIC164: Ideas & their Consequences: Literary & Artistic Realms of the Imagination

Suggested Research Process


This guide is based on the VIC164 research assignments for Prof. Maria Cichosz' class, (e.g., Essay on Artwork in Context, or Description of an Artwork which starts with selecting a modern or postmodern work from the AGO's Collection).

small photo of painting entitled Fire at Full Moon by Paul Klee, 1933

  Paul Klee (1879-1940). Fire at Full Moon. 1933.

  (slightly cropped) image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives, in Artstor

1st Step: 

Look up the artist you selected in:

Screen shot of Oxford Art Online title as it appears on database page Oxford Art Online
(contains Grove Art Online & the Benezit Dictionary of Artists)

While you can search for the title of the artwork, that piece may not be mentioned in these overview sources, so it's best to search for the name of the artist. You'll gain the broader context of their art-making career, and you can focus on the section about the time period during which your selected artwork was created. This will give you valuable information; for instance, the art style or movement it belonged to, any historical events or life changes for the artist that could possibly be related to the creation of your selected artwork. That broader information can be used to help frame what you write about and provide terms and information that will help you find more specific sources. 

Optional: For images of other artworks, not in the AGO's Collection, try searching:

artstor database logo and name Artstor

2nd Step:

Search the art style/movement, cultural milieu, historical event/era that the work, or the artist is associated with.

For detailed entries/articles on the specific style, movement, theme, or a group of artists that your selected artist was associated with (e.g., cubism, abstract expressionism, etc.) look up that term in the various reference sources listed on the next section of this guide (in some cases, you will need to use the index for the eBook).

3rd Step:

Searching for more specific resources:

Analyses of the artist's work, or more broadly of the movement they have been associated with can also be found within book chapters and scholarly journals about visual art/culture.

For books and/or articles, you can use LibrarySearch

It but it may not retrieve all relevant articles, so it's recommended you aslo search within the recomended Art sources databases.
Example of an advanced search formula in LibrarySearch below:

LibrarySearch with subject of "Edouard Manet" and keywords "women OR Paris"

To search in "art-specific collections/databases

Navigate to the "Scholarly journal articles" section of this guide (see the sections menu at left, or above if viewing this guide from within  the Quercus course).
Note: It's possible there is no detailed analysis of the specific work that you selected, but it's perfectly valid to extend the critique or reception of similar works by the same artist to the work you are focusing on for your assignment.