Art History

Art history class at the Met

Image courtesy of the Barnard College Archives

Guide to Finding
the Best Resources

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective information research in art history.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

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Art books are arranged by BLAIS using the Library of Congress classification system:

N             Visual arts
NA          Architecture
NB          Sculpture
NC          Drawing. Design. Illustration
ND          Painting
NE          Print media
NK          Decorative arts
NX          Arts in general
TR           Photography
TT           Handicrafts. Arts and crafts

Online reference source for background information and getting started on research
Dictionary of Art Historians. Intended as a beginning point to learning the background of major art historians of western art history, this biographical and methodological dictionary database provides resources for understand their careers, publications, teaching, and research. Free access to researchers, students and the general public with content copyright provisions. Compiled and hosted by the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University.

Encyclopaedia of Islam. With over 13,000 articles on topics in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, this full-text, searchable version of the nine volume Encyclopaedia of Islam includes volumes for Addenda & Corrigenda, Glossary & Index of Terms, Index of Proper Names, and Index of Subjects. Contains approximately 6 million digital items captured from paintings, sound recordings, films, and texts from Europe's galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. Included are works of art, maps, photos, books, newspapers, letters, diaries, archival papers, music and spoken word, videos, films, newsreels, and TV and radio broadcasts.

Getty Research Portal. This free online search platform provides global access to digitized art history texts in the public domain. Through this multilingual, multicultural union catalog, scholars can search and download complete digital copies of publications for the study of art, architecture, material culture, and related fields.

Oxford Art Online. Contains subject entries, biographies, bibliographic citations, images, and image links.  An essential reference, it is also known as Grove Art Online, Oxford Companion to Western art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art terms, Grove Dictionary of art online, Dictionary of Art Online.  It recently incorporated Benezit Dictionary of Artists.

Recommended databases for journal articles

Art Source. Developed from a merger of high-quality databases from EBSCO Publishing and H.W. Wilson (Art Full Text, Art & Architecture Complete, Art Restrospective), and including many unique sources.
Artbibliographies Modern. ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM) provides full abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, PhD dissertations, and exhibition reviews on all forms of late 19th century through 21st century fine art and design.  Entries date back as far as the late 1960s.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index (Web of Science). Extensive index to 1,300 journals in all arts and humanities disciplines 1975-present.  A part of Web of Knowledge, a multidisciplinary database.

BHA Bibliography of the History of Art. Indexes literature on western art in periodicals, books, exhibition catalogs, and dissertations; with abstracts through 2007.  Includes RILA (Répertoire de la litterature de l'art) 1975–1989.

CAA. Reviews. Founded in 1998, this resource publishes timely scholarly and critical reviews of studies and projects in all areas and periods of art history, visual studies, and the fine arts, providing peer review for the disciplines served by the College Art Association.

International Bibliography of Art. Global in scope this resource provides detailed coverage of monographs, essay collections, conference proceedings, exhibition catalogues, and 500 core journals,  2008- present.  Includes fine arts in all media, architectural history, material culture, among other subjects.

Index to 19th Century American Art Periodicals (Vended Periodical Index). Indexes 42 art journals published in the US during the 19th century, providing nearly complete coverage of journals from this period. The Index describes the entire journal contents articles, art notes, illustrations, stories, poems, and advertisements.

Images online

ARTstor. Provides more than one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with a suite of tools for  research.

AP Images - 1840 to Present - Full Text. Current year and 750,000+ back to the 1840s.  Also graphics, maps, illustrations, and logos dating back to the 1920s with AP also.

Google Art Project. An online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative’s partner   museums - more than 32,000 artworks from 46 collections - including the Tate Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Uffizi, Florence.

Index of Christian Art. Documents Christian art from early apostolic times to 1400 AD with no geographic limitations. Seventeen different media are represented including manuscripts, metalwork, sculpture, painting, glass, etc.

NYPL Digital Gallery. Over 700,000 images digitized from the New York Public Library's vast collections including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs.

Finding Books

CLIO - Online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library.

CLIO search tips:

  • To find primary sources in CLIO, use the keywords: archives, correspondence, diaries, interviews, narratives, memoir
  • Use an asterisk (*) search for variants of a word stem  (example: essay* will search for essay, essays, essayists, etc.)
  • Limit your search to Barnard College Library, if you wish.

Worldcat. Search for items in libraries worldwide.

BorrowDirect. Borrow books directly from the libraries of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale, in addition to select libraries of Harvard and MIT. Items requested through BorrowDirect typically deliver in 3 to 4 business days, with a 6-week loan period + one 6-week renewal.

Interlibrary Loan. Borrow books, articles/book chapters, music scores, and selected audiovisual items (i.e. maps or films) that are not currently available at Columbia University Libraries. ILL has a larger scope of participating institutions than Borrow Direct.

Finding Dissertations

Digital Dissertations: Full text of American dissertations accepted at an accredited institution published since 1997. These dissertations have extremely detailed bibliographies and can be an excellent starting point for research.



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