"Art," wrote the English poet and art critic Sir
Herbert Read, "is most simply and most usually
defined as an attempt to create pleasing forms.
Such forms satisfy our sense of beauty and the
sense of beauty is satisfied when we are able to
appreciate a unity or harmony of formal relations
among our sense perceptions.“
"Art today is a new kind of instrument, an
instrument for modifying consciousness and
organizing new modes of sensibility . Artists
have had to become self-conscious
aestheticians: continually challenging their
means, their materials and methods."
Art is a direct communication between artist and viewer.
Art communicates the highest aesthetic values of our
Art reflects the history of man and his environment through
the eyes of the artist in an aesthetically and uniquely
Art, the oldest means of communication, is still available
today for us to experience; it is centuries older than the
Art Communicates through a wide variety of visual
elements: line, color, form, tone, texture, space.
Art can be appreciated on many levels, and appreciated on
a different level each time it is viewed.
The monetary as well as the aesthetic value of quality
works of art increases with time.
Each art object is unique and can only be reproduced,
Original works of art are unique, which means that each
institution will own the only copy of each piece it acquires.
Benefits received from viewing original art works are immediate.
Yet art is something that one can return to, over and over, for
renewed enjoyment and appreciation.
The study of original works of art is the best way to learn about
art and art appreciation.
Quality works of art increase in value and are, therefore, an
excellent institutional investment.
When works of art are put on display, they can greatly enhance
an institution's appearance and image.
With proper handling, art works last indefinitely, even when lent
If the institution lends works of art, users can have original art in
their homes without incurring the expense of ownership.
Original works of art complement other institutional holdings and
programs, such as books about art, art lectures, AV
presentations, and institutional tours.
Many "outside" activities (traveling exhibits, craft
demonstrations, exhibits by local artists, classroom tours,
etc.) can be easily incorporated into the institution's
original art program at little or no cost.
The library can provide a place for showing and viewing
artwork in towns that have no gallery or museum. It can
also provide opportunities for local artists.
Original works of art can be used to reach users not easily
reached through books and other materials. For example,
mobile art exhibits can be sent to community centers,
nursing homes, day-care centers, hospitals, and even to
the homes of shut-ins. Also, minorities who understand
little or no English and preschoolers who have not yet
learned to read can appreciate original works of art.
Everyone, though they won't relate to every art piece, can
relate to the language art speaks.
Because each work of art is one of a kind, each is
irreplaceable if lost or destroyed. If a work of art
is mishandled or damaged, besides
the monetary loss it is also disrespectful to the
artist, who put so much time into the creation of
Because each work of art is unique, it is difficult to
know the value of any particular piece at any
The institution must often absorb extra expenses
for storage and display facilities, insurance and
security measures, and the framing and handling
of art works.
Because of the nature of original art works, not all
items can be lent to users.
Original works of art are not available through
traditional book and non-book sources.
Staff members must have special knowledge and
appreciation to select and properly care for
original works of art and to interpret the
institution's collection to users.
Select work from a reputable artist. This does not
necessarily mean a nationally recognized artist.
There are ways to determine local reputable
artists, such as their exhibition record, positive
local art reviews, galleries or collections that have
collected their work, etc.
Select works that are convenient for framing,
storage, display, circulating, and handling.
Select pieces that are in top condition. Always
check for abuse, misuse, damage, wear and tear.
At least at first, limit the selection of art to specific
media (original prints, local crafts, oil paintings,
sculpture) and/or to specific artists, periods,
styles, subject matter, or combinations of these
for example: 20th century original prints by local
artists on Western subjects.
Don't try to build a complete collection in any
area. Instead, strive for a balanced collection
within each specialty.
Emphasize the works of local artists. Local artists
(and local users) should be the first consideration
when planning and developing an institution's art
Select quality pieces that are characteristic of each
artist's best known period and style. It's better to
collect a few recognizable, quality works than many
idiosyncratic works of doubtful quality.
Don't buy specifically with investment in mind.
Although original works of art are an excellent long-
term investment, concentrate mainly on artistic value.
Consider user needs, including the needs of various
segments of the community (minority groups,
children, senior citizens, artists, students, etc.).
Buy only from reputable dealers and trustworthy
sources. If there are no art dealers in the area, order
through dealers' catalogs. Other sources include art
fairs and shows, art associations, antique shops,
auction houses, and of course the artists themselves.
Make gifts a basic part of the selection policy.
Encourage donations, both cash and art works, from
organizations and individuals, including the artists
themselves. Be cautious, however, about accepting
"vanity" gifts from "Sunday painters."
Establish a special line-item budget allocation for
original art. If this is impractical, the book, AV, or other
budget can be used, perhaps with loan and overdue
fees as a supplement.
In writing, establish an art selection policy for the
institution. Include in the policy any restrictions on
media, styles, subjects, and periods of art to be
collected and state the emphasis the collection is to
Know the art market, including availability of works,
prices, and popular artists and styles.
Visit places where original works of art are sold,
created, and exhibited (including artists' studios),
to learn about the art world.
Consult experts in the field (museum curators, art
critics, local artists, art teachers, dealers)
whenever questions arise about selection criteria.
Consider establishing a committee to help in the
selection of art works. The committee could
include staff members as well as community
artists, teachers, curators, and other art experts.
Evaluative Review Sources
Each original work of art is one of a kind, which
means that only the more expensive works,
created by well known artists, will be evaluated in
journals and other sources, and then only
indirectly. In short, review sources for individual
works of art do not exist.
The value of a work of art, both monetary and
aesthetic, is based- more than anything else-on
the latest recorded offering or sale by a dealer,
auction house, or artist of a similar work by the
same artist or by an artist of similar reputation
and creative abilities. The chief selection authority
for original works of art is, therefore, “comparison
shopping”, based upon:
The selector's aesthetic appreciation of original art
The reputation of the artist and his works
Advice from experts in the art community
Past purchases of works of similar quality, size, and
subject matter, created by the same artist or by an
artist of similar reputation and abilities
Continual perusal of art books, exhibition catalogs,
magazine articles, and dealers' catalogs about the
artist and his works (or similar artists and works)
and about the art world in general.
Storage and Care
Designate a special area of the institution,
preferably a separate room, as the art
Include in this area the following furnishings: desk
and chairs; typewriter and office supplies; one or
more work tables; filing, tool, and supply cabinets;
storage facilities for frames, mats, and similar
materials; shelving for reference materials;
equipment and facilities for cleaning, framing,
matting, and repairing art materials (including
running water); storage facilities for original art. 2
Store like objects together. For ease of storage,
identification, and handling, try to arrange
paintings, sculptures, prints, pottery, and other art
Keep storage, ivory, and display areas clean, well
ventilated, and free of clutter.
Handle art works as little as possible. The more you
move a piece, the more you risk damage.
Handle art works with clean hands. Dirt and
perspiration can cause permanent damage.
Plan what you're going to do before you touch a work
of art. Know the nature of the work, and where and
how you're going to move, store, or display it.
At least once a year, inspect each work of art for
deterioration and damage. Also inspect every piece
each time it is moved.
Consider all works of art as irreplaceable. Treat each
piece as if it were the most valuable object in the
Store all art objects at least 1 1/2 inches off the floor,
on shelves, or in bins, cabinets, or trays.
If damage occurs, collect and save for restoration all
detached fragments, including paint chips, torn
comers, broken pieces, and fabric strands.
Leave major cleaning and restoration to the experts.
Don't subject art to extreme temperature change. A
uniform 70 F is ideal, and good air conditioning is
essential, especially for works of art on paper.
Never allow the humidity to go above 70% (50% is
best). High humidity can cause mildew.
Keep art objects away from direct sunlight. Even
indirect sunlight and strong fluorescent or other
artificial light can fade colors and accelerate the
degeneration of art works.
Guard against air pollution. Sulphur dioxide is particularly
dangerous, especially to works of art on paper. The best
prevention is a good air conditioning system.
Watch out for insects. Bookworms, cockroaches, silver
fish, and termites are just as destructive to art works as
they are to books and other non-book media. The best
precaution is a dry, air conditioned, well ventilated,
properly lighted, and soundly constructed building.
Know local laws and ordinances concerning the
destruction and theft of art works.
Make sure that the institution's insurance policy covers all
original art works in the collection.
Install (if necessary) window and door locks, electric alarm
systems, fire extinguishers, and other security and safety
Keep accurate, up-to-date records on all pieces --
if possible, photographic records.
Know where each art work is at all times -- on
loan, in storage, on display, wherever.
Never display or circulate a damaged or soiled art
work; this can encourage even more damage.
Inventory art holdings periodically, and at least
daily for items on display.
Observe these special guidelines
Do not carry paintings on one side or by the frame.
Instead, carry with one hand beneath and one hand
on the side of the frame.
The best way to store paintings is on sliding screens.
The units can be hung from tracks attached either to
the ceiling or to a free-standing structure.
Otherwise, store paintings in plywood bins in an
upright position. You can construct the bins yourself a
foot or so wide and tall enough to accommodate
standard size pictures.4
Avoid stacking paintings on top of each other. If
stacking is unavoidable, be sure to separate paintings
by corrugated cardboard or another protective
Avoid touching the surface (or even the backs) of
paintings. It's a good idea to protect the back of
each painting with cardboard or other
backing. This will keep moisture from attacking
the back of the painting. Hang it by the solid
construction of the frame. Avoid eye hooks, use
mirror hangers or d-rings.5
Store paintings framed. This avoids moving
paintings into and out of frames.
Cover stored paintings with canvas, cardboard, or
other material to protect the surfaces. Pad bins
and other storage areas to protect the frames.
When displaying pictures, place rubber or cork
bumpers at the bottom corners of the back of
each frame. This prevents dust streaks and
allows air to circulate behind the pictures, and
also helps to keep pictures straight. The pressure
of the frame against the wall will hold the
bumpers in place.
Dust the surface of paintings periodically with
soft bristled brushes. Keep the brushes for this
purpose only. Store them in a bag. NEVER use
polishes, waxes, oils, or sprays! These will
destroy your valuable art.
Observe these special guidelines for
sculpture, crafts, and other three-
Never carry sculpture, ceramics, and other objects by
their projecting parts, such as handles, arms, edges,
or rims. Support each piece by the bottom, with one
hand, and by the side with the other.
Do not handle or carry more than one object at a time.
Also, know exactly what you're going to do with a
piece before you touch it.
Do not allow any part of a work of art to protrude
beyond the edge of its tray, box, shelving, drawer, or
other storage area or container.
Line storage boxes, shelves, and cabinets that
contain fragile objects with padding.
Do not overcrowd storage boxes or shelving.
Separate each item in a box or tray with thick,
absorbent materials, making sure that the pieces
do not touch each other.
Handle pottery and other fragile items on
cushioned surfaces: soft cloth, velvet, cotton
Avoid opening containers or removing objects
from shelves to identify individual pieces. Instead,
identify the outside of each container, drawer, and
shelving area that holds an art object.
Observe these special guidelines
Keep rugs, costumes, wall hangings, and other
textiles away from direct sunlight. Even prolonged
exposure to natural light can weaken fibers and fade
Keep storage and display areas clean and fumigated.
Wool, silks, and other animal fabrics are especially
susceptible to attack by insects.
Clean stains and restore damaged fibers as soon as
possible. The longer you let a stain remain on a
fabric, the more difficult it is to remove; the longer you
allow broken threads to remain broken, the more
difficult they will be to restore.
Keep sharp objects away from textiles, whether in
storage, on display, or in transit. Remove metal pins,
rings, wooden dowels, and other objects from textiles
when they are stored.
Develop a periodic cleaning program for fabrics.
Even with careful handling and proper storage,
textiles accumulate dust.
Avoid folding textiles, which can weaken the
fibers. Roll, hang, or keep fabrics in a flat position
in storage. If you must fold, use crumpled, acid-
free tissue paper in the folds, fold lightly, and
never fold in the same creases.
Observe these special guidelines
for prints and other works of art
Most of the caring techniques are the same.
Avoid sunlight, use acid-free paper for storage,
and insure close control of heat and humidity.
Some art, like charcoal drawings, are powdery.
Be especially careful not to touch the work, as it
might smudge. Fingerprints are easily left on
Never stack original prints on top of each other,
unless they are protected by guard sheets or
placed in plastic envelopes.
Store unframed prints in standard print containers
(solander boxes), portfolios, map cabinets, or
other flat files.
Store framed prints by hanging them on pegboard
panels, walls, or screens; or stand them vertically in
plywood bins. Do not store original prints in their
frames for extended periods.
Never pick up or carry a print by the frame or by the
edge of the mat. Use both hands.
Do not scrape anything across the surface of a print
or drawing. Be especially careful when stacking works
of art on paper.
Mat all prints and other works of art on paper, both to
enhance their looks and to protect against damage.
Do the matting yourself or have it done professionally.
Frame all prints that are to be displayed or
circulated. You can buy ready made frames, or
pay for custom framing, or do the framing
Don't "overframe" original prints. Commercial
quick-change frames work well for temporary
framing, made either of natural wood or metal, in
basic colors of black, gold, or silver.
(woodblock, etching, etc.)
Painting can be defined as the art of reproducing
scenes, real, imaginary, or abstract on two-
dimensional surfaces by means of lines and
Drawing is the tracing and shading of a picture
on paper by making black marks with a charred
willow twig (called vine charcoal), compressed
charcoal (with a binder added), charcoal pencils,
graphite pencils, conte crayons, oil pastels, paint
sticks, or basically anything that makes a mark
when applied to paper. Collage and mixed media
may be used.
Sculpture is three-dimensional art (or art in
relief), created by either carving out a material
such as stone or wood (i.e., removing waste
material until the form is created); modeling (or
building up) materials from a lump of material,
such as clay, wax, or plaster; or assembling (or
joining together) prefabricated materials, as in
welded metal construction.
Printmaking is the technique of creating an
image with a knife or other instrument on a wood
block, metal plate, stone, or other material; then
inking the surface; and, finally, transferring the
image onto a paper, cloth, or other material
Photography uses light passed through a
camera lens to form an image on film. Light is
then passed through a negative to form an image
on sensitized paper.
Craft making is the making of articles that are
artistic and that also serve a practical purpose.
The various skills involved in craft making include
woodwork, metalwork, pottery, weaving, and the
manipulation of metals, plastics, and other
materials. Crafts that are popular today include
the making of tapestries, rugs, macramé,
clothing, furniture, pots and other kitchen ware.
Digital art may be created on a computer or exist
on a computer.
An installation is a site specific art piece that is
usually mixed media and may fill an entire room.
In performance art the performance of the artist
is the art piece.