Writing about art in the DMA collection

If your assignment is to write about a piece of artwork at the Dallas Museum of Art, try to select several that interest you. If you select a piece that is on loan to the Museum, the library may not have much information on that piece. Read the label copy carefully, and take note of the following:

a. name of the artist, or culture that produced the piece
b. title of the work
c. accession number, which will look something like this: 

1987.53
T15770
156.8905

Dallas Museum of Art Publications

Consult Dallas Museum of Art publications on the permanent collection, such as Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection Dallas Museum of Art: Selected Works Gods, Men, and Heroes Lone Star Regionalism. Ask the reference librarian for help in finding these titles. Not all the works in the Museum’s collections are included.

Additional Publications: Reference

In many cases, you will need to research either the artist or culture that produced the art. Start by browsing the reference section of the library. The Dictionary of Art provides authoritative background material on many artists and cultures. If you don’t have much experience in art research, consult A Short Guide to Writing About Art by Sylvan Barnet.

Additional Publications: Books 

You may also search the catalog for books on your artist or culture. If you find a book of interest, note the complete call number and ask the reference librarian to pull the book. Be sure to note the author, title, and publication information for your citation. You may only request five books to be pulled for each visit to the library, so please choose judiciously.

Periodicals and Indexes

The Mayer Library subscribes to Art Abstracts (on site use only), a resource providing citations to periodicals. Please note that the library may not own the periodicals cited. Ask the reference librarian for assistance if you have not used this resource before.

Images

If you need an image of the work you have selected, try searching the collections on the DMA website.   Not all pieces are represented.

Artist Files

The library may have an artist file for your artist, which can provide some good background information. These files contain clippings, small exhibition catalogs, and brochures. Ask the reference librarian for assistance.

Area Libraries

Other area libraries have similar reference materials. Both the Hamon Art Library at SMU and the Dallas Public Library downtown have excellent art research resources.