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Artists' Writings and Interviews

A guide to finding artists’ writings, interviews, and other primary source material.

Introduction

An artist's published writings, interviews, and other primary sources such as letters and notebooks can provide insights into

  • their interpretations of and intentions for their work
  • ideas about its display and preservation
  • their artistic processes and techniques
  • their inspirations
  • and aspects of their everyday life.

You may find these primary sources helpful when determining how to exhibit or treat artwork with an artist's wishes and working methods in mind. They could also serve as inspiration in your own art and writing. If you plan to incorporate these sources into a paper or project, it's important to critically evaluate the artists' words, and to consider, among other things

  • why they might have written or stated something
  • who they were writing for or speaking to
  • greater context and societal forces at play
  • and how much you want to focus on an artists' words versus the interpretations of viewers and the reception of the artwork.

The resources in this guide are organized by format, but many defy easy categorization; interviews may originally be audio recordings, which are then transcribed and printed, or essays may originally published in journals and then gathered together into an anthology. Take a look across all tabs for a fuller picture.

Related Research Guides

See the Primary Sources research guide for more in depth information on understanding and evaluating primary sources. For information on developing your own artist statement, see the Resources for Artists research guide. The Museum Studies research guide contains helpful guidance on conducting interviews.

Search Strategies

Keyword Searches

Keyword searches in Bobcat can be effective ways to locate artists' writings and interviews. Resource type filters can further narrow a search to just items such as books or videos. In addition to searching using an artist's name, the terms listed below can be used to aid in locating these resources.

Subject Searches

The following terms can be used as subject searches in Bobcat to locate resources.

Secondary Sources

Artists' written and spoken words are frequently published. However, resources that offer interpretations or advice on critically evaluating these specific primary sources are less common. Below are a few resources that may help researchers better understand and interpret artists' writings and interviews.