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Art & Architectural History

Guide to resources in art and architectural history.

Introductory Sources for Art History

Listed below are fundamental texts for beginners in art historical study. The following books give examples and recommendations on how to write using the Chicago Manual of Style along with basic introductions to the theories and methodologies used in the discipline of Art History. 

Formal Analysis

Sylvan Barnet describes the formal analysis as "the result of looking analysis of the form the artist produces; that is, an analysis of the work of art, which is made up of such things as line, shape, color, texture, mass, composition." 
       A Short Guide to Writing About Art, 10th ed. (New York: Pearson, 2011), 46.

Conducting a formal (visual) analysis is a useful exercise that can assist you in looking and understanding a work of art. By breaking down a work's formal elements, you might find insight into the artist's creative process. Often times a formal analysis will aid you in identifying a starting point for discussion by using descriptions of the work's line, shape, color, texture, or composition. Below are some helpful links that describe in further detail how to conduct a formal analysis.

Study Tip - Use ARTstor to create study guides or presentations!

ARTstor is not only a valuable tool for finding images. It also has a feature that allows you to import your saved images into a Power Point. Once imported into Power Point you can use the notes field to write about each work. This comes in handy for presentations and when you need to study for exams!