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* Art & Art History: writing about art

art information and art historical research

Writing About Art

For those new to art history (and for general inspiration for everyone) discipline-specific guides to art research and writing about art can be very useful:

Writing an Artist's Statement

Citing Your Sources

Writing a research paper means documenting, or "citing," the sources of the information you use. How do you cite your sources? Every time you quote from or mention another person's writing or research in your own paper, you also mention the source of that work in a little aside called an "annotation." At the end of your paper, you include a list called a bibliography of all the sources you used throughout.

There are many different ways to annotate or call out sources in your paper, and many different ways to format the bibliography. These are called citation styles, and the professor who assigns a paper (or the publisher of a paper if it is being written for publication) tells writers which style they should use for any particular paper. Two common styles used when writing about the arts are Chicago (the Chicago Manual of Style) and MLA (the MLA Handbook).

citations

The Chicago Manual of Style contains the required format for all art history courses.  See chapters 16 and 17 for rules and examples for creating notes and bibliographies.

Use the Quick Guide for examples of the humanities style which is preferred by many in literature, history, and the arts.

Chicago Manual of Style, examples

(from: Colgate Visual Resources Library, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. https://sites.google.com/a/colgate.edu/colgatevr/citing-images/citing-images-chicago (accessed October 28, 2015)

Image scanned from a book:

Alice Neel, Nancy and the Rubber Plant. 1975, Oil on canvas, 203.2 x 91.4 cm. The Estate of Alice Neel. From: Ann Temkin et al. Alice Neel. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000. Plate 64.

Image downloaded from ARTstor:

Rogier van der Weyden, Saint Catherine of Alexandria. 1430-1432, Diptych panel, 18.5 x 12 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. Available from: ARTstor, http://www.artstor.org (accessed September 30. 2009).

Image downloaded from museum website:

Caravaggio, The Denial of Saint Peter. Early 15th century. Oil on canvas, 94 x 125.4 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. From: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://www.metmuseum.org (accessed September 29, 2009).

Image downloaded from Flickr Commons:

Thomas Eakins, William Rudolf O'Donovan. 1981, Black and white photographic print, 6 x 8 cm. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Available from: Flickr Commons, http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/2547841439 (accessed September 29, 2009).

Image downloaded from Flickr (personal images uploaded by others):

Friedrich von Schmidt, Vienna Rathaus. 1872-1883. Source: Harshil Shah, Vienna - Rathaus. 2009, Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/harshilshah/3823135957 (accessed September 14, 2012).

The Writing Center

Writing Center logo

The Robert E. Hemenway Writing Center at the the University of Kentucky offers free and friendly help to all UK students, faculty, and staff. Graduate student consultants and undergraduate consultants assist with the process of composing and communicating in writing, speaking, and multimedia projects across the curriculum, at every stage of the composing and communicating process.

The Writing Center is located in the W. T. Young Library Hub in room B108B.

Style Manuals

Citing Images

Artstor logo

Here is a short, authoritative guide to image citation from Artstor (a non-profit organization that builds and distributes the Digital Library, an online resource of more than 1.9 million images):

 

I also like this guide from Colgate University: