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Studio Art Resources: Getting Started

A basic introduction to information resources for visual artists.

KU Library Catalog

To learn what books, journals, DVDs, and other material the KU Libraries own in all their locations, you need to search the Library Catalog. The catalog search allows you to "limit" your search by location, by format, by language and/or by date to tailor your results to what you need. 

Other Library Catalogs

WorldCat Includes millions of records describing items owned by OCLC member libraries, including the KU Libraries.

Catalog for the Spencer Art Library at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Located in Kansas City, MO, this art research library is open to the public but must be used on-site. The hours are listed on the library website

Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, KS Located at 7th & Vermont, this public library has a good art collection. 

Starting Points

Art Full Text: Contains indexing and abstracting dating from 1984 for more than 600 periodicals and 13,000 dissertations on the subjects of art, architecture, urban planning, & design; journals are primarily but not exclusively English-language; full-text articles from over 300 journals dating from 1995; also indexes nearly 200,000 art reproductions that appear as illustrations for articles or advertisements. Can be combined with Art Index Retrospective to extend coverage to 1929.

ARTbibliographies Modern: ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM) provides citations with abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, PhD dissertations, and exhibition reviews on all forms of modern and contemporary art. Although some entries date back to the late 1960s, ABM's coverage generally begins in 1974 and includes art topics from the late 19th century onwards and photography since its invention in 1839. It includes abstracts of English and foreign-language material on famous and lesser-known artists, movements, and trends. ABM covers all aspects of modern and contemporary art, including performance art and installation works, video art, computer and electronic art, body art, graffiti, artists' books, theater arts, crafts, jewelry, illustration, as well as the traditional fine arts of painting, printmaking, sculpture, and drawing.

Oxford Art Online: An encyclopedia of art information and a good starting point for research. Allows simultaneous searching of Grove Art Online, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms. Content includes biographies, subject entries, bibliographies, images and learning resources.


ArtLex: Art Dictionary Definitions along with thousands of supporting images, pronunciation notes, quotations and cross-references.

Atkins, Robert. Artspeak: a Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present. 3rd ed. (New York: Abbeville Press, 2013) Nearly 150 alphabetical entries explain the who, what, where, and when of postwar and contemporary art.

HarperCollins Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques by Ralph Mayer; revised and edited by Steven Sheehan. An encyclopedic reference for painters explaining the wide range of supports, grounds, primers, pigments, media and  application methods, as well as their respective benefits and defects. 

Oxford Art Online Gateway to the Grove Art Online and other Oxford art reference resources with more than 23,000 subject entries, 21,000 biographies, and 40,000 image links.

Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms Over 2000 entries covering painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, the decorative, applied and graphic arts from all periods throughout the world up to the present day plus a table of the dynasties of Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, China, India and Japan

Fine Arts & Humanities Librarian

Andi Back
Art & Architecture Library

(785) 864-3020

Research Help

We can help with your research questions -- contact us by chat, phone, email, text or at a Research Help desk.