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Research Techniques

  • Start with a broad search, like "Abstract Expressionism" in a Research Starter database to learn more about the topic and help you choose an artist to focus on.
  • Keywords - Instead of typing in a full sentence, use only the most important terms from your question or thesis.
    • Example: "When was Mark Rothko born?" vs. Mark Rothko biography, or even just Mark Rothko (in a research starter database)
  • Advanced search techniques - Strategies to focus or broaden your search
    • AND: Combines both/all of your search terms or phrases
    • OR: Looks for one or the other search term or phrase
    • "Quotation marks": Searches for a phrase in the exact order you type it
    • Truncation: Searching for abstract expressionis* will find both abstract expressionism and abstract expressionist

Library Resources

Your assignment requires you to find three different types of information or content:

  • a brief history and overview of Abstract Expressionism
  • a brief overview and analysis of your chosen Abstract Expressionist artist 
  • gathering 10-15 high resolution images
    • note actual titles, sizes and locations for each piece

Each may be found in different types of sources and different databases.


Overview of Abstract Expressionism and artist

Background information is found in reference sources like encyclopedias. RVCC has online "research starter" databases that will provide you with background info:


Analysis and Critique

Critical discussions of an artist and their work can be found in a variety of types of resources:

  • Magazine and news articles will provide a commentary meant for the general public.
  • Scholarly articles, written by experts in a field of study, will contain advanced analyses intended for others who are knowledgeable about a topic.
  • Books can provide a broad look at a topic or person, or offer in-depth information on a particular aspect.

The following RVCC Library resources are recommended for analytical and critical art research:


High-resolution images

Locating high quality digital images with info about the original artwork that are licensed for use by others is harder than you think! The library database Artstor contains over 2.5 million images that have been rights-cleared for educational use.