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Art & Art History

This guide is intended to help you get started with your art research.

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources provide direct testimony or evidence about a particular subject or topic. Primary sources are original documents created by witnesses or observers who experienced the events or conditions being documented, and are typically created contemporaneously to the event. The important thing to note about primary sources is that they are characterized by their content, rather than format. Careful attention should be paid to the purpose and authority of the source.

To read more about Primary Sources, check out our Primary Sources Research Guide.

Primary Sources in Art

There are many ways to use primary sources in your art and art history research. Primary sources in art may take many forms, including:

  • artworks
  • autobiographies
  • films of the artist
  • interviews, diaries, speeches, letters
  • artifacts of the artist
  • archives of the artist
  • exhibition archives
  • photographs of artwork or artists