Writing About Art Objects at the Dallas Museum of Art
What’s the Assignment?
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:
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 Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) 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, 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.
Need an Image?
If you need an image of the work you have selected, try the Museum Store for postcards. You may use the library’s copy machine to make a black-and-white photocopy if you find an image in a book. Photocopy charges are 15 cents per page for students.
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.
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.