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ART 315: Writing About Art: Home


Welcome to your course guide for Art 315: Writing About Art. Here you will find links to resources and tips to use when doing art research. Use the tabs at the top to navigate through the sections.

Form & Process

Things to consider:

  • What's the size, shape, and orientation of the artwork? Was this influenced by practical factors?
  • Are there separate parts of the artwork, like in a diptych or triptych?
  • Is the artwork meant for a specific location, or can it be displayed in different places?
  • How does the size and format relate to its environment? Is it meant to be viewed from a specific angle or multiple angles?
  • Are there any 3D elements, like carved pieces? How does this change when viewed from different angles?
  • Are there many shapes or just a few repeated? How are shapes arranged in relation to each other and the frame?
  • Are there interesting textures or surfaces in the artwork? How were these made?
  • Is the space in the artwork shallow or deep? How is depth created?
  • Is there an unusual viewpoint used? What's the effect?
  • How does the artwork interact with real space?Is the emphasis on objects or the space around them? How does this affect the mood?
  • What materials were used in the artwork and why? What techniques were used and how do they help convey ideas?

Vocabulary & Terms: Online Resources

Reference Materials: Art Dictionaries

Content & Context

Things to consider:

  • Can the artwork be categorized within a known genre?
  • Can you identify recognizable objects, places, or scenes?
  • Are there people depicted, and what can we infer about them? 
  • Does the artwork tell a story or convey an action? 
  • Do key objects or images hold symbolic meaning or contribute to deeper themes?
  • Can you find out when, where, and why the artwork was made and what it was meant for? How did these factors shape its creation?
  • Where was it made, and how does this affect the artwork? Was it originally placed somewhere else?
  • What events or environments influenced the work? How did they impact it?
  • Does the artwork reflect a certain style, movement, or era? Has it been influenced by trends or ideologies?
  • Can you compare it to other artworks or relate it to different fields?
  • What biographical details about the artist are relevant?
  • Is this piece part of a larger collection, and does it represent the artist's typical style?


Content & Context Reference Materials

Biographical Reference Materials

Cataloging & Discovery Librarian

Profile Photo
Mike Olson
Cataloging & Discovery Librarian
Assistant Professor
113 Murphy Library

Books about Art Research