Research an Art Object
Curious about your art?
To research artwork that you own, gather all the information you already have. Key facts are artist name, title or subject of the work, date of the work, and the medium. Usually, an artist name is essential.
Try to find out more about the artist. Most libraries have indexes and biographical dictionaries that give brief descriptions of artists' careers, including life dates, education, exhibitions, and awards. In many cases, this may be the only information available. Ask a librarian to help you get started. Three good basic resources to check are:
Artist Biography Master Index (McNeil), 1986. The most comprehensive reference to 275,000 artists. Refers you to other reference books that have biographical information.
Grove's Dictionary of Art (Turner), 1996. 34-volume encyclopedia of art and artists. Informative articles with useful bibliographies.
Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Benezit), 1999. Good current source of information on international artists. In French.
Searching the Internet can be helpful, but remember, the more obscure the artist, the less likely you are to find information on the Web.
If you are interested in finding out a comparative value for your piece, use auction price indexes to find sales results for other work by your artist:
Art Sales Index (Hislop). An index to international auction sales for artists and sculptors.
To find out the monetary value of your piece, consult a professional appraiser. You might contact either the American Society of Appraisers (800-272-8258), the Appraisers Association of America (212-889-5404), or the International Society of Appraisers (312-981-6778).
To research furniture, silver, china, or collectibles, start by examining your piece carefully. Take note of any maker's marks, hallmarks, or other evidence of origin. Photograph, draw, or trace it from all angles to show stylistic features.
Visit an art library and look for books that list marks (there are many), and general books on the subject of your piece. Check price guides and auction result indexes.
Looking for a reproduction?
The Dallas Museum of Art Store sells postcards and posters of some of the works in the DMA's collections. If you are interested in a reproduction of a piece not owned by the DMA, there are several options. First, check the Web for sites like www.corbisimages.com or www.barewalls.com that sell thousands of prints and posters by well-known (and not so well known) artists. Another resource is the museum that owns the work; try to locate the museum that owns the piece and contact that museum's store. Finally, check a frame shop or poster shop. Many have catalogs of posters and prints available from all over the world.
Got damaged art?
The conservation and restoration of art is a job for a trained professional. For free referrals to conservators in your area, contact the American Institute of Historic and Artistic Works, at (202) 452-9545. The AIC has an excellent Web site full of useful information: www.conservation-us.org