MLA is predominantly used in literature and humanities classes required for just about every major. It is important to understand the specific requirements for citing historical artwork in an academic paper. You may choose to include the exact image within the body of the text. If so, label the image as a numbered figure and give a brief caption (ex., Fig. 1. Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, Wichita Art Museum.) It is important to note that if the caption under the image within the paper is a complete citation, it is not necessary to add the citation into a works cited list at the end of the paper.
To cite an original work of visual art (a lithograph, painting, photograph, sculpture, etc.) in an institution such as a museum University permanent art collection, or in a private collection:
Artist’s last name, first name. Title of artwork in italics. Year. Medium. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork, city where institution/private collection is located.
Alvarado, Francisco. Seca y Pesad. 2010. Woodcut Print. Mountain View College. Dallas, Texas.
Evans, Walker. Penny Picture Display. 1936. Photograph. Museum of Mod. Art, New York.
Heckman, Albert. Windblown Trees. N.d. Lithograph on paper. Private collection.
Seurat, Georges. Man Leaning on a Fence. 1880-81? Graphite on paper. Collection of André Bromberg, n.p.
To cite a museum or gallery exhibit include the exhibit’s name as the title of your source, followed by the opening and closing dates of the exhibit and the museum or gallery and city as the location:
Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains. 12 Mar. – 4 Dec. 2016, National Museum of the American Indian, New York.
League for Innovation Student Art Exhibition. Jan. 21 – Feb. 15 2019, Cliff Gallery, Mountain View College, Dallas, Texas.
Tanchak, Keer. Buttons/Crowns. Oct. 9 – Nov. 6 2018, Cliff Gallery, Mountain View College, Dallas, Texas.
Cave, Nick. Until. Oct. 15 2016–Aug. 25 2017, Mass MOCA, North Adams.
Artist’s last name, first name. Title of artwork in italics. Year. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork. Title of print source. Author/editor’s first name last name. Publication city: Publisher, year. Page/plate number. Medium of reproduction.
Bonheur, Rosa. The Horse Fair. 1853. Oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Art History. Marilyn Stokstad and Michael W. Cothren. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011. 976. Print.
If the artist is unknown, begin with the title. You can leave out the city, if it is part of the museum or collection name.
For untitled artworks, provide a generic description. Do not italicize or capitalize each word.
Westwood, Vivian. Lime green, faux crocodile platform shoes. 1993. Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.
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