Art Resources

Getting Started

Keywords: Think about the titles of works that you need to study (be aware that if the original title was in another language, you might find variations on the translated title), the genre (classical, modern, Dadaist, flash...), and artists and groups that are involved in the form you are researching. Boundaries are not clear-cut between styles and some artists cross perceived boundaries. This can give you many choices for your research, but can also make it hard to stay focused on a topic precise enough for a good paper.

Encyclopedias, dictionaries and indexes are a good place to start your research. They can help you identify a topic for your paper, and often include useful bibliographies.

  • Dictionary of Art; REF N31 .D5 1996
    Published by Grove, one of the premier publishers on art and music topics.
  • Penguin Concise Dictionary of Art History; REF N5300 .F64 2000
  • Atlas of Western Art History: Artists, Sites, and Movements from Ancient Greece to the Modern Age; REF G1046 .E64 S7 1994  
  • International Dictionary of Art and Artists REF N40 .I55 1990


A research paper on art is not a review of a exhibit you attended or what you think about an artist. It should study the artist's life, influences or other topic as your instruction specifies. You need to do research and find the number of materials required by your instructor on your topic to write a decent paper. Depending on how much time you have, you have a couple of options for where you can search:

Useful Subject Terms

Can't think of terms to accurately describe your topic?  Library catalogs use specific subject headings to group related books together. 'Art' is such a large topic, you will want to think of ways to narrow it down, by time period, geography, style, specific artist, culture, etc. Ask a librarian to help, or here are some examples to think about:

Art Appreciation

Art, African -- 20th Century

Art And Morals

Painters -- Mexico -- Biography

Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973 (note the last name, first name when looking for a person as subject, this also is the format to use when looking for a work by author)

Art Criticism



Arts-related journals include some of the latest research in the field as well as discussion of specific aspects of art such as history, genre, artists and movements. Journals are a good source for finding very detailed information on your topic. It is best to start with a couple of books before diving into journals to get ideas on terms to use in your search as you will get so many hits on the 'big picture'. To search for articles, you need to start with research databases.  Each will allow you to search hundreds or even thousands of journals at once. Some databases are directories, rather than full-text collections. Use the Check SFX for Availability link to check our other resources for the full text of the article. The first choice to make is which databases to look in first! Check the Visual Arts Databases link for recommendations.

Depending on your topic, you may find other databases useful as well (e.g., Art History should search the History databases, any research into creativity or psychology can use the psychology databases.)




Your instructor may allow use of some web pages you find on the Wild Wild Web. NOT ALL SITES ARE OF EQUAL VALUE TO YOU AS A RESEARCHER. Exercise caution with statements you find and look for references lists and citations for supporting documentation. Without careful fact-checking and research, you don't know what is truth and what is fiction, but the instructor grading your paper is going to know! Click on a link below to open a page of reliable sites you can check out:

Before getting started, you might want to refer to this reference book in our collection: Art Information and the Internet: How to Find it, How to Use It at REF N59 .J66 1999. This discusses, among other topics, museum web sites, search strategies and more. See the Museums page for online art collections hosted by museums from around the world.

ADAM(The gateway to art, design, architecture and media information on the internet)
Although not currently growing, this provides a search engine to excellent links gathered by British librarians.

Art on the Web
Calendars, guides, and a variety of sources sorted by topics in art history make this a good place to visit.

From the Kennedy Center for the Arts, this site is devoted to arts education, but offers some research resources as well.

Artslynx/Visual Arts
A nice site on visual arts with different categories including sculpture, journals, photography, and research sources.

InfoUSA: Visual Arts Overviews
Short list of government web pages on visual arts. A longer list of sites on the Current Arts Scene provides statistics, summary reports and a list of non-government organizations about the arts.

Insecula: L'Encyclop�die des artes et de l'architecture
Although an English site version is offered, you will need to be able to read French to use this site. A large listing of international art museums, artist biographies and more assembled by Antoine Kuipers. 

Mother of All Art and Art History Links Page
Maintained by the School of Art & Design at University of Michigan, this site provides links to art schools/departments, research resources, collections, exhibitions, museums and new media.

National Endowment for the Arts
The US government agency which funds art activities and programming. The website offers limited information, but as a Federal depository CSUSM collects a number of the NEA publications which are held in the Government Documents collection of the library.

Voice of the Shuttle: Art and Art History
A large and well-organized site of links on a wide variety of art topics.

Free-access Journals
Online magazine featuring Latin American artists with online archive. Not all older issues are digitized and materials may not be in English.
A combination of weblog and newswire, updated daily, that examines issues affecting the arts such as copyright, artists, performers and more. You can follow the Visual Arts link to focus on more specific postings.

Directory Of Open Access Journals
Click on "fine arts" to see freely-available full text of arts-related online journals.

PsyArt: An Online Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts
Just like the title says, this peer-reviewed publication focuses on the psychological aspects of art, literature and other humanities and artists. Indexed in PsycInfo and MLA databases.

Local Sources

UCSD Library Digital Collections
The UC San Diego Library Digital Collections website is a public search and discovery interface that currently features more than 100,000 digital objects, including documents, photographs, audio, video, and data sets, which reflect a range of materials collected, managed, and preserved by the Library to support teaching, learning and research.

Video On Demand
A collection of performances, lectures, interviews, and installations recorded at UCSD. These are free to watch using RealPlayer. Use the video finder subject divisions to look at the offering (advise using the Arts & Music collection and then using the "by subject" tab". A title/keyword search option is available also. Subjects of interest are Artist Profiles, Fine Arts, Media Arts, Public Art & Installations.