Art history notes
June 7, 2022 10:13 AM   Subscribe

How do I make the most out of an upcoming holiday? I want to take notes on paintings, monuments, and local architecture.

Is there a standard format I can follow? I'd prefer to take notes on paper but I will also have my phone and tablet with me. Ideally, I'd like to make notes and then come home and supplement them with research. I took several art history courses in my undergrad so I am sort of familiar with the field.
posted by bigyellowtaxi to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might find taking a look at ICOM's Object ID helpful to get some ideas; specifically their checklist (link goes to the pdf version in English).
posted by gudrun at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

It depends entirely on your reason for doing this. What aspects interest you? If it's the history, you need notes on how the work was commissioned, when and by whom, on the artist, his or her influences, and so on. If it's the physical materials, notes on the origin of the stone or the pigments. If it's the literary background, as so often with pieces based on historical, biblical or mythological stories, you might want notes comparing how other artists treated the same characters and incidents.

You could work up a Google spreadsheet to compare these aspects, once you figure out which ones are of interest to you.
posted by zadcat at 10:49 AM on June 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Date-and-time your paper notes, make sure that your cameras are logging the same time zone, and all three are indexed to each other. Also to your ticket stubs and text messages etc. You can do voracious freeform capture in the moment and cross-reference stuff later.

Date, time, and lat-Lon, maybe. I turn off location in my photos but for this kind of vacation I’d turn it back on.
posted by clew at 10:54 AM on June 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Agreed with clew, making sure you can cross reference your photos with any written notes is important. I would take photos of wall labels wherever possible, so that you have object data and gift/purchase data along with accession number (I am interested in collecting and its history so am always sniffing labels).

Sometimes when I am taking snapshots for later reference, I write a little note with the identifying information in it and make sure it's visible in the photo.

My advisor, in a memorable class about archival research, pulled a moleskine-sized notebook out of his pocket and told us all that he liked to carry something small for notes, so that it was always on hand. Another gem: write down the thing that catches your eye, even if you don't think it relates to your current project - it is probably going to be important at some point, and if you don't record what/where it is, you'll never find it again when you need it. He also uttered the immortal phrase, since constantly reiterated by me and my partner in imitation of his English accent, "eat a good breakfast". Make sure you have enough fuel in your body to carry you through the city/museum, since traveling often means you are isolated without your customary foods and kitchen available.

Don't forget to have aesthetic experiences wherever possible! Sometimes your emotional/aesthetic experience needs to come first, and documentation can wait until you've looked/walked/smelled/felt your full. I have only rarely felt overwhelmed by buildings and paintings, it is special and not to be foreclosed.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 11:54 AM on June 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

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