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From Picasso to Pollock

Research Sources & Tips







Overviews and Visuals

Reserves and Books

Journal Articles and Popular Press

Writing and Citing Sources

I. Overviews and Visuals

Definitions and Overviews

Primary Sources:


Course Reserves (textbooks/readings)

Oxford Art Online

120 Thematic Essays on Contemporary Art (Met Museum)

A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art


Cubism and Culture / Mark Antliff and Patricia Leighten.

The Cubist Painters / Guillaume Apollinaire ; translated, with commentary by Peter Read. Apollinaire and cubism / Peter Read.

Picasso and the Invention of Cubism / Pepe Karmel.

A Cubism Reader: Documents and Criticism, 1906-1914

Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, 1874-1904; Sources and Documents.

German Expressionism: Documents from the End of the Wilhelmine Empire to the Rise of National Socialism


The Contemporary Art Themes and Movements Series

The Contemporary Artists Series

The Contemporary Artists and Their Critics Series


Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art

Documents of 20th Century Art


Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: a Sourcebook of Artists' Writings



Art Museums


New York Public Library Picture Collection


New York Public Library Web Gallery of Images


II. Reserves and Books

Use Library Catalogs for Reserves and Books

           Course Reserves


           Tufts Libraries Catalog

           BLC WorldCat (beyond Tufts)

A. Start with an artwork, an artist, an event, or a case study— “a tangible and specific topic”

e.g., Search on an artist:

"Mark Rothko" (keyword search)


Rothko Mark (subject browse)



Among the search results, there are biographies, criticism and interpretation, primary sources (artist's own writing and interviews), exhibition catalogs and catalogue raisonné: book

Exhibition and museum catalogues are uniquely valuable sources, which include:


*Fundamental data on each work of art;

*Official images of the artworks;

*Curatorial statements/essays;

*essays by art critics/historians;

*list of scholarly publications on the art,

*sometimes, artists’ interviews,

*and more.

Catalogue raisonné presents the complete works of an artist, often accompanied by a comprehensive bibliography.


Two samples:

Mark Rothko / Jeffrey Weiss; with contributions by John Gage ... [et al.].


Mark Rothko: the Works on Canvas: Catalogue Raisonné/ David Anfam.


More searches for exhibition catalogs:

Cubism -- Exhibitions.

Avant-Garde (Aesthetics) -- Exhibitions.


B. Relate your artist/artwork to their Stylistic Type – the art historical significance of your artwork

In a stylistic analysis, focus on how the work of art reflects or affects the time in which they were made. How does it fit in with the larger historical trends and forces in the culture that influenced the development of art.


Subject Headings in a catalog/database are important clues, which lead to broader/related contexts.

Follow the Subject Heading here to explore the stylistic context of Hesse's artwork:

Abstract expressionism -- United States.



Breslin, James E. B., 1935-


Mark Rothko: a biography


Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, c2002.


Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970.

Painters -- United States -- Biography.

Abstract expressionism -- United States.



Use the method described above, here are more subject browses:

Broader Contexts:

Avant-garde (Aesthetics)


Abstract Expressionism

Post-impressionism (Art)

Narrower Focuses:

Expressionism (Art) -- Germany.

Avant-garde (Aesthetics) -- Russia.

Avant-Garde (Aesthetics) -- Soviet Union.

The Artists:

Picasso, pablo

Pollock, Jackson

Beckmann, Max

Kandinsky, Wassily

the Bauhaus

Mondrian, Piet

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

C. Explore Art-critical debates surrounding the artwork, the artist, the type of art:

e.g. the issues of gender/sexuality in regarding Eva Hesse's "Right After"

A search in BLC WorldCat, for example:

"Eva Hesse" AND (gender* OR sex*)


Sample Findings:

More Than Minimal: Feminism and Abstraction in the '70's: Lynda Benglis ... [et al.] / Susan L Stoops.

Three Artists (Three Women): Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner, and O'Keeffe / Anne Middleton Wagner

From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art. / Lucy R. Lippard. Tisch Oversize: NX180.F4 L56 1976



   1. AND in between keywords and phrases;

   2. sex* searches for sex, sextual, sexuality, etc.

   3. "or" and ( ) nest related/varied expressions.




III. Journal Articles

A. Subject Databases for Journal Articles

B. Popular Press

C. Finding Full Text


1. and 2. Two favorite collections of core journals of all disciplines.


Project Muse


3. Combinations of Databases; search across groups of databases or search each separately:

Academic Search Premier and Art Full Text

Limit Your Results

Academic Search Premier , Art Full Text and Women's Studies International

Limit Your Results


4. Additional Databases:

ARTbibliographies Modern (1960's - present)

Art Index Retrospective (1929 - 1984)

Arts & Humanities Citation Index


5. When use GoogleScholar, set your Library Links to access Tufts full texts.


LexisNexis Academic


Factiva (more international coverage)


Boston Globe (1872-1979)

New York Times Online Archive
(1851 - 3 years before current date)


Times Digital Archive  (1785 - 1985)



Readers' Guide Retrospective (1890-1982)



British Humanities Index (1962- )



Exhibition Reviews in Popular Press

Exhibition reviews in popular press are likely opinion pieces. Ask yourself if these reviews are seeking to promote the artist, to criticize him/her, to judge his/her work, or simply to inform. Have the reviews changed over time? Why? How would you use these "public receptions" with other scholarly criticism?


Two sample reviews:

Tuchman, Phyllis. "Review: Rothko Rising." Art Journal 58, no. 1 (Spring, 1999): pp. 110-112.

Johnson, Ken. "ART IN REVIEW; Mark Rothko -- 'A Painter's Progress : The Year 1949'." The New York Times, February 6, 2004, sec. E; Part 2; Leisure/Weekend Desk.


Source of the two samples: Barnet, Sylvan, A Short Guide to Writing About Art (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011), p169.

1. Click on the findIt@tufts button button in your search results screen to a window of three sequential options:

a. link to the digital full text when available;

b. link to a Library Catalog search for the print journal;

c. link to ILliad for requesting the article when the above two options are negative.

2. Search for a journal directly here:

a. Tufts Library Catalog (including e-journals)

b. Electronic journals list

c. Use ILliad to request your article, if Tufts does not have your journal.



IV. Writing and Citing





A Short Guide to Writing about Art by Sylvan Barnet

Writing about Art & Art History (The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


Tufts Academic Resources Center -- Writing Tutors


Chicago Style Manual