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Art Research Guide

This annotated guide to selected art reference sources in the Newton Gresham Library covers painting, drawing, graphic arts, and sculpture.

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Atkins, Robert.  Artspeak:  A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present, 2nd ed.  New York:  Abbeville Press, 1997.  REF N 6490 .A87 1997

Artspoke:  A Guide to Modern Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1848-1944.  New York:  Abbeville Press, 1993.  REF N 6447 .A85 1993

These two guides contain information that is not readily available in other sources.

The Dictionary of Art.  34 vols.  New York:  Grove's Dictionaries, 1996.  REF N 31 .D5 1996

This is the premier art encyclopedia, with over 45,000 entries—nearly one-half are biographical—providing detailed coverage of historical periods; countries, regions, cities, and towns; archaeological sites and excavations; important buildings, cathedrals, monuments, and structures; artistic styles, schools, groups, and movements; themes and subject matter; and materials and techniques. The library also own several subject-specific encyclopedias that contain revised and updated articles from this set as well as new articles.  These include the following:

  • Encyclopedia of Italian Renaissance and Mannerist Art. 2 vol.  N 6370 .E53 2000 (Main collection)
  • The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. 5 vol. REF N 6505 .G76 2011
  • The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture. 2 vol.  REF N 5610 .G76 2007 (also available online)
  • The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture. 3 vol.  N 6260 .G75 2009 (Main collection)
  • The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art.  REF N 8510 .G76 2008
  • The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art. 3 vol.  N 6370 .G76 2009 (Main collection; also available online)

Encyclopedia of World Art.  17 vols.  New York:  McGraw-Hill, 1959-1989.  REF N 31 .E553

An older yet still important encyclopedia that provides scholarly historical, biographical, methodological, theoretical, and geographical articles.  The illustrations are grouped together at the end of each volume.  The index (vol. 15) should be consulted first before attempting to use this set.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts.  Lanham:  Scarecrow Press, 2008-

These dictionaries provide biographical information on artists and definitions of terms specific to historical periods and art movements. The library owns the following titles:

  • Aspley, Keith.  Historical Dictionary of Surrealism.  REF NX 456.5 .S8 A87 2010
  • Milam, Jennifer.  Historical Dictionary of Rococo Art.  REF N 6425.R6 M55 2011
  • Palmer, Allison Lee.  Historical Dictionary of Architecture.  [electronic book]
  • Palmer, Allison Lee.  Historical Dictionary of Neoclassical Art and Architecture.  REF N 6425 .N4 P35 2011
  • Palmer, Allison Lee.  Historical Dictionary of Romatic Art and Architecture.  REF N 6465 .R6 P35 2011
  • Zirpolo, Lilian H.  Historical Dictionary of Baroque Art and Architecture.  REF N 6415 .B3 Z57 2010 
  • Zirpolo, Lilian H.  Historical Dictionary of Renaissance Art.  REF N 6370 .Z57 2008

The following Oxford dictionaries are good sources for concise information on artists, as well as artistic schools, styles, and movements.

  • Chilvers, Ian, ed.   The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists, 4th ed.  Oxford; New York:  Oxford University Press, 2009.  REF N 33 .O93 2009
  • Chilvers, Ian.   The Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art.   New York:  Oxford University Press, 1998.  REF N 6490 .C5317 1998
  • Morgan, Ann Lee.   The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2007.  REF N6505 .M59 2007 (also available online)
  • Murray, Peter and Linda Murray.  Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1996. REF N 7830 .M87 1996

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Art.  5 vol.  New York:  McGraw-Hill, 1969.  REF N 33 .M23

This is a good reference source for those not requiring the longer essays in the works listed above.  Coverage of art of the Near East, the Far East, and the primitive world is especially noteworthy. A large percentage of the 15,000 entries are biographical.  The set is very well illustrated. 

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