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ART H 326: Art Since 1940

Welcome to the library guide for Dr. Kavky's ART H 326 course at Penn State Berks!

Research Project

decorative onlyBasic Requirements for the Research Project:

"For your final project in this class you will each select a contemporary artist, present the artist to the class and write a short research paper which analyzes the artist’s work in the context of a contemporary issue such as sexual or racial equality, environmental concerns, consumerism, censorship, political activism, surveillance, immigration, etc....

After you select your artist, you will research your artist, briefly present your artist to the class, and write a 3-4 page paper plus images, citations and a work cited list (or endnotes and bibliography). 

Please do not write a biography of the artist. Artist biographies can be found easily on the internet. Your paper should be a critical analysis of the artist’s work in relation to contemporary issues. Use this as an opportunity to relate contemporary art to other fields of knowledge and issues that interest you! "  --From Dr. Kavky's assignment



Acceptable Sources

        Sources by Art Historians and Art Critics

  • Scholarly journal articles (required to have some)--these are a special type of article that are written by scholars (professors), published in journals, often have long lists of citations.  Check out this example--you might recognize the author!
  • Book (required to have some)--you can find books at Thun Library or order books from other campuses if Thun does not have what you need.
  • Critical reviews of exhibitions--these are well-thought-out, substantial reviews of exhibitions by your artists.  They are often found in art journals or credible newspaper like the New York Times.  Please be aware that the reviews are opinions.

        Sources by the Artist  

  • The author's web site or blog (if the artist has written the site)
  • The artist's memoirs or autobiographies
  • Interviews with the artists that appeared in newspapers, magazines, TV news shows


Unacceptable Sources

  • Wikipedia
  • Web Sites that lack credibility
  • Exhibition reviews that are not scholarly (some exhibition reviews only offer dates and times of the exhibit and very short summaries of the artwork--avoid these).


Which of these sources are acceptable, and which are not acceptable?

How To Find Scholarly, Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

Search for the name of the artist along with a relevant contemporary issue:

Georgia O'Keeffe and feminism

Power Tip: You can enclose the author's name in quotation marks to perform an exact phrase search.


What if this search strategy doesn't find enough good sources? 

1. Try slightly different search words:

Georgia O'Keeffe  and women's issues

Georgia O'Keeffe  and women's rights

2. Switch to another database.  If JSTOR does not find enough, try Art Full Text instead.

3.  Consider changing the topic slightly, maybe changing the artist or changing the contemporary issue.

If I can't find enough on Georgia O'Keeffe and feminism:

--I could try changing the contemporary issue. I could search for Georgia O'Keeffe and environmentalism 

--I could try changing the artist.  I could search for Cindy Sherman and feminism instead.


How To Find Scholarly Art Books

The CAT is the main search tool for finding books at all Penn State Libraries.

--Look over the list of books in Canvas and your textbook.  Search for those books in the CAT by changing the drop-down box to Title.

screenshot of the Quick Search in the Cat.  Yellow arrow points at the drop-down box with title search



--Search for the name of the artist in quotation marks in the CAT (after you search, you can also use the filters on the right sidebar to select "Visual Arts").

"Andy Warhol"

--Look for books on movements or trends in contemporary art that may include a discussion of your artist.  For example, if I can't find books solely on Andy Warhol, I could type in pop art and look through books on pop art for mentions of Andy Warhol.


a blue button from the Cat that says "I want It"

Bonus: How To Find Critical Exhibition Reviews