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SPAN 212: Introduction to Latin American Cultures

Use this guide to get started with your research for Arte contemporáneo latinoamericano!

Locating Images

Before you begin analyzing your piece, consider looking for additional images of the work. Viewing a work of art in text can be limiting, because its size, scope, and details cannot be easily ascertained. Locating additional images can provide you with different angles or details to consider in your analysis. Digital images can be found through library resources like ArtStor and Oxford Art Online, via the artist's website (if available), or an open web search. Always read the small print to confirm that you can use this material for your project!

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Resources for Locating Images

Exhibition Catalogs

Exhibition catalogs can be valuable resources for learning more about a particular artist and their work. These collections often include a mixture of primary and secondary sources such as: Artists' statements; Essays about the artists' work; Artists' biographies including exhibition and award history; Images of the artists' work. 

For less well known artists, these catalogues may be one of the few sources of information available about their work.

How to Find:

  • Search Primo using the artist's name and the phrase "exhibition catalogs"

Analyzing a Work of Art

In your exhibit, you will offer short reflections of representative works of your chosen artist. In this sense, your primary sources are the artworks on which you choose to anchor your analysis. When viewing the work, ask yourself the the following questions. Seek out high-quality images of the work in question - including pictures of the entire piece, close-ups of important details, the label for the work, etc. - so you can refer to them later.

As you view a work of art, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my personal response to the work? What do I feel?
  • What is the title? Does it help explain the work?
  • When, where, and why was the work made? By whom?
  • What is the medium of the work?
  • What is the size of the work?
  • What is the subject matter? Is there symbolic meaning?
  • How does the work reflect its time? Historical? Cultural? Political? Social?
  • How do the visual elements (line, color, space, texture) contribute to the work? What about the design (proportion, balance, unity/variety, rhythm)?
  • What is the focal point of the work that draws in the viewer's eye?
  • If the work represents a person, what is the facial expression? Gestures? Posture? Position of the body or hands?

For information about formal analysis, see The Art of Writing about Art and A Short Guide to Writing about Art (also ebook version available).