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AMD 419 Research to Production

Guide to arts research

Let's get started with researching contemporary artists...

Broken sign reading "Contemporary Art Centre"

"Contemporary Art Centre" by throgers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; image resized from original.

Researching the process of art is accomplished by both focusing on individual artists and their work. This will involve looking for biographical and historical information, discussion of their methods, and critical analysis of their place in the arts.

Looking at the artist

  • Biographical means you are looking for facts about their life, education, experience and world events that shaped their thinking.
  • Discussion of the medium (why they choose the materials they do and their choice of methods.)
  • Look for discussion by the artist on their collaboration with, or inspiration by, others.
  • How do they react/incorporate the environment they find themselves in?
  • Note that much of this comes from the artist themselves through writings, lectures, interviews and exhibition notes.

Looking at the work

  • Is there discussion of the degree of experimentation they are demonstrating?
  • Look for reviews and responses to the work created from experts, other artists and the intended public. 
  • Note that much of this comes from reviews of work, exhibits and secondary source materials, such as books and journals.

This variety means you have a number of different resources to look at, each valuable for its contribution to your research. This variety also means you need different search strategies when working with different resources. The following tabs will divide up this task to show the appropriate places and strategies for the research needed.