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Categories for the Description of Works of Art


12. Orientation/Arrangement


DEFINITION

An explanation of the way a work is meant to be seen or has been displayed.

SUBCATEGORIES

GENERAL DISCUSSION

The orientation or arrangement of the work may be important to understanding its meaning and context. Current arrangements, as well as intended or former arrangements, may be noted.

In certain cases, particularly with abstract or nonrepresentational works, it is difficult to know how the artist intended the work to be oriented or arranged unless this is explained. Opinions about the arrangement of a work may vary, or a work may have been assembled indifferent ways for different installations. Each variation should be described separately.

Specificity
A precise description of arrangement and orientation enables the researcher to visualize the object and aids in the understanding of its composition and subject matter. For complex multi-part works, arrangement and orientation may be known for each of the parts, for example for contemporary installations in the so-called "stations format." Multi-part works are often quite complex in their physical composition: a description of their arrangement and orientation makes it possible to understand how the parts relate to each other and ensures that the work will be seen in the appropriate sequence. For single-part works, noting orientation ensures that the work will be installed appropriately.

A full statement of the arrangement of a work is critical for installations and other large works, which are often stored in parts. This enables an accurate reconstruction of the work when it is exhibited again. Information about orientation and arrangement can be used to connect works of art with similar orientations, such as all hanging scrolls or all paintings of a particular type that had a horizontal orientation. In addition, information about the arrangement of objects in reference to one another is of interest, whether as parts of a whole, as in the arrangement of the Elgin Marbles, or as works arranged together in a particular context (e.g., the juxtaposition of sculptures by three generations of Calders on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia).

Sources
The source for the arrangement of a work of art may be the artist him- or herself. Other sources may include visual documentation of the work in situ, or descriptions of the work when it was exhibited. There may also be information carried within the work itself, such as the place-numbers assigned to works within a portfolio, which indicate their sequence. Orientation and arrangement may also be derived from a direct examination of the work itself.

RELATED CATEGORIES and ACCESS

The parts of the work of art or architecture should be recorded in OBJECT/WORK - COMPONENTS. Part/whole relationships are further articulated in RELATED WORKS. Information regarding the work's dimensions and format should be recorded in MEASUREMENTS. Any inscriptions on the work that provide information regarding its arrangement should be transcribed or described in INSCRIPTIONS/MARKS. A work may be arranged differently when it is installed in various locations. A work's exhibition history is provided in EXHIBITION/LOAN HISTORY. An arrangement or orientation may be related to a work in a particular context. This should be recorded in CONTEXT- ARCHITECTURAL. Visual images that provide information about the work of art should be cited in RELATED VISUAL DOCUMENTATION.

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12.1. Orientation/Arrangement Description

DEFINITION

A description of the way the work of art is meant to be seen or has been displayed.

EXAMPLES



- hung horizontally


- Three projection screens form three walls and a two-way mirror forms the fourth wall of an enclosed space, using 3 channel-video projection and two folding chairs set up in the center of the room facing the mirror

- The polyptych was formerly arranged differently. In the upper tier, an earlier reconstruction placed Mary Magdalene on the outside left and St. Catherine on the outside right (while they are currently in reverse positions). In the lower tier, the earlier reconstruction placed St. Bartholomew to the left of the central St. James Major, and St. John the Evangelist to the right of James (while the current reconstruction has swapped the positions of Bartholomew and John) [Figure 2]

- "the miniature Nude Descending a Staircase was painted for Carrie's dollhouse, where it hangs today, between the ballroom's great Renaissance fireplace and its silver-and-ivory grand piano." [1]

- Chandelier is suspended from rosette in the center of the ceiling; glass bowl at bottom of piece was designed to hold goldfish [Figure 4]

- Terrestrial and Celestial Globes stand on corners of the carpet, on either side of a double-form desk [Figure 3 and Figure 10]


DISCUSSION and GUIDELINES

Optional: Record an explanation of how the work is meant to be displayed, or has been displayed in the past.

Form and syntax
For short entries, use phrases in lower case. Capitalize proper names. For other words, use lower case. Avoid abbreviations. Provide directional descriptions for architecture, sculpture, and other three dimensional objects (e.g., for a building, view from the east, or for a portrait bust, left profile). Do not capitalize cardinal directions (east, west, etc.) Note special lighting conditions (e.g., raking light).

For longer statements, use sentence case and complete sentences or phrases.

TERMINOLOGY/FORMAT

Free text: This is not a controlled field. Index the subject in INDEXING TERMS.

Describe the placement, construction, or reconstruction of the work, including the the intended arrangement of a multi-part display or installation, the sequence of works within a series, or the arrangement of pages within an album. If available, a diagrammatic indication or drawing of how a work in several parts should be arranged may be cited in CITATIONS.

TERMINOLOGY/FORMAT

Free-text: This is not a controlled field. Maintain consistent capitalization, punctuation, and syntax where possible.

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12.2. Orientation Indexing Terms

DEFINITION

Terms indexing the orientation or arrangement of the work

EXAMPLES



- vertical
- horizontal
- hanging
- open
- closed


DISCUSSION and GUIDELINES

Optional: Use controlled vocabulary to index how the work is meant to be displayed, or has been displayed in the past. Use lower case.

TERMINOLOGY/FORMAT

Controlled list: Control this subcategory with a controlled list: vertical, horizontal, hanging, prone, open, closed, etc.

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12.3. Remarks

DEFINITION

Additional notes or comments pertinent to information in this category..

DISCUSSION and GUIDELINES

Optional: Record a note regarding the orientation or arrangement of the work. Use consistent syntax and format. For rules regarding writing notes, see DESCRIPTIVE NOTE.

FORMAT/TERMINOLOGY

Free-text: This is not a controlled field. Use consistent syntax and format.

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12.4. Citations

DEFINITION

A reference to a bibliographic source, unpublished document, or individual opinion that provides the basis for the information recorded in this category.

DISCUSSION and GUIDELINES

Optional: Record the source used for image. For a full set of rules for CITATIONS, see RELATED TEXTUAL REFERENCES - CITATIONS.

TERMINOLOGY/FORMAT

Authority: Ideally, this information is controlled by citations in the citations authority; see RELATED TEXTUAL REFERENCES.

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12.4.1. Page

DEFINITION

Page number, volume, date accessed for Web sites, and any other information indicating where in the source the information was found.

DISCUSSION and GUIDELINES

Optional: For a full set of rules for PAGE, see RELATED TEXTUAL REFERENCES - CITATIONS - PAGE.

FORMAT/TERMINOLOGY

Free-text: This is not a controlled field. Use consistent syntax and format.



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EXAMPLES


Orientation/Arrangement Description: Screen should be placed on the pedestal in an open position.
Indexing Terms:
open

[when a description is not necessary]
Orientation/Arrangement Indexing Term: horizontal


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NOTE: The outline numbers are subject to change; they are intended only to organize this document.

Revised 8 September 2008