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LCC Library

Art and Art History: Topics in Art & Art History

A guide to help you research topics in art and art history in the LCC Library.

Finding relevant resources

Research topics in art and art history can be rich combinations of ideas and concepts. You can develop your topic with a material in mind (such as porcelain or bronze), or a technique (such as photogravure or encaustic painting). Combining materials and styles in a particular location or culture is a common way to develop a more complex research topic. For example: What are some of the key features of Abstract Expressionist painting? What materials have been used in feminist body art? Are there common motifs used in Scandinavian weaving and embroidery?

It is easy to develop topics further by also considering a time period, a geographic location, or practitioners. For example: Who are some of Mexico's women photographers and what symbols are used in their work? Are there differences in the graffiti art of Los Angeles and Brazil? Is there a Pacific Northwest style of art?

Styles and periods are central concepts in the discipline. Distinct stylistic periods such as Baroque, Mycenaean, and Renaissance are organizing concepts used to describe significant periods of artistic activity. Other important organizing concepts refer to stylist attributes, such as Mannerist, Gothic, or Moderne. Sometimes groups of artists give rise to a school of work that refers both to stylistic or philosophical tendencies called movements or genres. Dada, Bauhaus, and Postmodern are some examples.

Before you begin your research, brainstorm keywords that will help you locate relevant material.

Examples of materials and techniques:

Examples of movements and genres:

 Examples of periods and styles:

Lorenzo Costa, Portrait of a Cardinal in his Study, circa 1519. Image from The Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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