Biographical Research

Reference works as a beginning research tool (note the specialized as well as general treatments):

  • The Oxford Dictionary of Art    N33 .O93 2004
  • Artists, Writers, and Musicians   Oversize  NX90 .A714 2001
  • A Biographical Dictionary of Artists  Oversize  N40 .B53 1995
  • Who's Who in Art    N40 .W6
  • Who's Who in American Art  Oversize  N6536 .W5
  • Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists   N6512 .C854 1994
  • Contemporary Women Artists  Oversize  N8354 .C66 1999
  • African Americans in the Visual Arts   N6538.N5 O86 2003
  • A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes  Oversize  NX456 .K67 2000
  • Women Filmmakers & Their Films Oversize  PN1998.2 .W66 1998

Electronic reference tools:

Biographical information from the catalog can come from:

  • books about (the artist as subject) or by (the artist as author),
  • reference sources such as biographical dictionaries,
  • exhibition catalogs front matter where they describe the artist and his philosophy to 'set the stage' for the exhibit.

To locate material about an artist, use the SUBJECT search by lastname, firstname. Review the results to find works about the artist or their works.

If you are not finding books on your artist, there can be a couple of reasons and of course, solutions!

They may be so new to the arts that they have not been discussed yet or the in-depth study you find in books has not had time to be published.

  • You may find resources in journals which have a faster publication cycle.
  • You may find them in larger works about many artists, such as dictionaries of art, etc. Some titles are listed below.
  • You may want to research the art genre and the materials they use to find mentions of them.


Biographical information from journals:

Many exhibits and reviews will include pieces of information, but it is a great deal of effort to assemble what you find into a coherent whole AND, sometimes that information is incorrect in these secondary sources. That places responsibility on you as the researcher, to verify any information from secondary sources.


Biographical information from the internet:

The first thing is to question the source. Is it from a reputable site? Do not just assume that it is. Look for interviews with the artist, or sites that provide a reference to the source the information came from.

Try searches on your artist's name with the words "interview", "biography" or "background".

If searching Google, add domain limiters such as site:edu or site:org to locate more reputable sources. Of course, the artist is likely to have their own website which can be a wealth of information. If they are teaching faculty at a university, they may have posted their curriculum vitae on the web which will provide some professional biographical material.