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Art History Research Methods

Research Reminders

  1. Finding information on art objects takes time. Give yourself several days to locate enough relevant information.
  2. Accept that you may not find information about your specific object. Discussing your object as it relates to similar objects of the same style, period, location, artist is legitimate. Compare your object to these other objects.
  3. Find sources by searching by movement, style/period, location, medium/technique, creator, title.
  4. ALWAYS collect more sources than the minimum requirement.
  5. Connect the dots. Think critically. Be flexible.

Example Object

Frida Kahlo, Mexican, 1907-1954
My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (Family Tree)
Work Type
Oil and tempera on zinc
12 1/8 x 13 5/8" (30.7 x 34.5 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art
Gift of Allan Roos, M. D., and B. Mathieu Roos
Accession Number
The Museum of Modern Art: Painting and Sculpture
ID Number
Image and original data provided by the The Museum of Modern Art


Background Information

  • Create a foundation of knowledge.
  • Give yourself a starting point.
  • Place your object in context (time, place, etc.)
  • Explore museum websites.
  • Utilize bibliographies for further reading.

Find Books

  • Search our catalog using OneSearch to find books on your topic. Request books Hunter doesn't have from other CUNY schools
  • OneSearch searches our library and all other CUNY schools.
  • Search other library catalogs: WorldCat, Arcade, etc. Request books outside of CUNY using InterLibrary Loan (ILL).

Find Articles

  • Journal databases provide articles related to your object - some are specific to art history and some cover more subject areas.
  • Search the databases by keywords, artist, movement, period, style, and other keywords.
  • Search general periodical databases for context and supporting documentation.

Find Images

  • Compare your object to related images.
  • What else was created by your artist?
  • What else was created during the same period?

Cite Your Work

  • Cite all quotes and paraphrased references used in the body of the paper.
  • Use a bibliographic manager (e.g. RefWorks, EndNote, Zotero) to organize and easily cite your research.