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AMD 419 Research to Production

Guide to artist research (Arnold, Fall 2020)

Biographical research

Biographical information from the library catalog can come from:

  • books about (the artist as subject) or by (the artist as author),
  • reference sources such as biographical dictionaries,
  • exhibition catalogs front matter where they describe the artist and their philosophy to 'set the stage' for the exhibit.

To locate material about an artist, use the SUBJECT search by lastname, firstname. Review the results to find works about the artist or their works.

If you are not finding books on your artist, there can be a couple of reasons and of course, solutions!

They may be so new to the arts (or getting attention only recently) that they have not been discussed yet or the in-depth study you find in books has not had time to be published.

  • You may find resources in journals which have a faster publication cycle.
  • You may find them in larger works about many artists.
  • You may want to research the art genre and the materials they use to find mentions of them.

Biographical information from periodicals:

Use the reference databases below to look for interviews and reviews of exhibits or exhibit catalogs. These will include pieces of information, but it is a great deal of effort to assemble what you find into a coherent whole AND, sometimes that information is incorrect in these secondary sources. That places responsibility on you as the researcher, to verify any information from secondary sources.

Biographical information from the internet:

The first thing is to question the source. Is it from a reputable site? Do not just assume that it is. Look for interviews with the artist, or sites that provide a reference to the source the information came from.

Try searches on your artist's name with the words "interview", "biography" or "background".

If searching Google, add domain limiters such as site:edu or site:org to locate more reputable sources. Of course, the artist is likely to have their own website which can be a wealth of information. If they are teaching faculty at a university, they may have posted their curriculum vitae on the web which will provide some professional biographical material. And of course, check your favorite visual social media sources.

Despite what you may have heard, Wikipedia is actually a great place to check when looking for more obscure artists. Often, so few people have heard of them that they are editing their own entry; or their obscurity means that only people who really care about their work are editing their entry.