How can I research and write about visual materials?
This site has a number of guides to help you get started looking at works of art and objects. Each guide features background information, questions, and additional resources. You can start with the “Looking,” or begin with more specialized topics, looking by medium (the material), genre, culture, and/or time period. You can also look more broadly, asking questions about exhibitions and/or collecting. There is even a guide to help you look using various methodologies, or approaches.
Check out the links below for tips on finding, citing, researching, and writing about visual materials.
Links to Find Images
Explore the Nasher Museum’s Online Collection
Want to see something in the Nasher Museum’s collection that isn’t on view?
Contact Molly Boarati, Academic Program Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Marianne Wardle, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Academic Programs (email@example.com)
Search the Duke Libraries’ Image Resources
Discover Duke Digital Collections
Visit Documentary Arts, a website featuring the photo collection from Duke’s Rubenstein library.
Look at the Visual Media Collections @ Duke (log in with your Duke NetID and password)
Links to Cite Images
Find examples on the Duke Libraries’ Visual Literacy Page
Guides to Research and Writing about Images
Thompson Writing Center Guides
Sources on Visual Literacy
Formal Analysis (understanding the visual makeup of an image)
Art Criticism and Formal Analysis
Visuals and Design
Dictionaries of Art Terms and Symbols
Clarke, Michael. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms. Second edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Hall, James. Dictionary of Signs and Symbols in Art. Boulder: Westview Press, 2008.
Lucie-Smith, Edward. The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms. London: Thames & Hudson, 2003.
Oxford Art Online database (includes Grove Art Online, Benezit Dictionary of Artists, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and The Oxford Companion to Western Art). NOTE: You must be connected through Duke’s internet server for the link to work.
Pierce, James Smith. From Abacus to Zeus: A Handbook of Art History. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc., 2004.
Selected Bibliography on Art and Visual Literacy
Beall-Fonfana, Barbara A. Understanding the Art Museum. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006.
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. New York: Penguin Books, 1977.
D’Alleva, Anne. Look! The Fundamentals of Art History. Third edition. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2010.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Livingston, Margaret. Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2002.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. An Introduction to Visual Culture. Second edition. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Smarthistory at Khan Academy.
Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Second edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Tucker, Amy. Visual Literacy: Writing about Art. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2002.