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Installation Art, Video & Performance: 1960-present

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

Documents of 20th Century Art

Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art

Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985

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



The Woman's Building


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:

"Eva Hesse" (keyword search)


Hesse Eva (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:

Eva Hesse: Sculpture. / Elisabeth Sussman and Fred Wasserman; with essays by Yve-Alain Bois, Mark Godfrey.


Eva Hesse: Catalogue Raisonné. / edited by Renate Petzinger and Barry Rosen.




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.

For some current artists, there may not be much scholarship on their works yet, but there are surely scholarship on the same types of works. (The question to ask might be, "Your artist are shown together what other artists?")


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:

Minimal art -- United States.



Eva Hesse / edited by Mignon Nixon; essays and interviews by Cindy Nemser ... [et al.].


Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, c2002.


Hesse, Eva, 1936-1970 -- Criticism and interpretation.

Minimal art -- United States.



Use the method described above, here are more stylistic history searches related to topics in the course:

Abstract Expressionism

Conceptual Art

Earthworks (Art)

Environment (Art)

Installations (Art)

Modernism (Art)

Performance art

Photography, Artistic.

Video art.


the Broader Art Historical Context:  

Art, Modern -- 20th century.

Art, Modern -- 21st centur

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.





More Overviews:

The Contemporary Art Themes and Movements Series:
    Art and Electronic Media
    Art and Feminism
    The Artist's Body
    Conceptual Art
    Land and Environmental Art
    The Contemporary Artists Series

The Contemporary Artists and Their Critics Series


III. Journal Articles

A. Subject Databases for Journal Articles

B. Popular Press

C. Finding Full Text



1. and 2.

JSTOR and Project Muse

Two favorite collections of core journals of all disciplines.


3. ARTbibliographies Modern (1960's - present)


4. Art Full Text   (1984 - present)


5. Art Index Retrospective (1929 - 1984)




6. Academic OneFile (All subjects)


7. Arts & Humanities Citation Index



8. Film & Television Literature Index


9. Communication & Mass Media Complete


10. Women's Studies International  

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



Review of books and other types of review articles in some major journals in a discipline summarize current state of research on a topic. Here are some samples:

A review of books

Dene Grigar. "Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation (review)." Leonardo 41.3 (2008): 294-295.

Review articles

Smith, Terry. "The State of Art History: Contemporary Art." Art Bulletin (U.S.A.) 92.4 (2010): 366 - 383.


Nickel, Douglas R. "History of Photography: the State of Research" Art Bulletin (U.S.A.) 83.3 (2001): 548-58.


More Articles like this "perfect" one


Search, in Arts and Humanities Citation Index, for the article you have read.

For example:

Kwon, Miwon. "The Wrong Place (Performance art, space, locale)." Art Journal (U.S.A.) 59: 1 (2000), 33-43.
References: 11 Times Cited: 2

You can, then, look up, in the record, the 11 references that Kwon cited for her article and, in turn, 2 articles (so far) that cited hers. The assumption is that these articles address related issues.




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)


Art Index Retrospective   (1929- 1982)


Readers' Guide Retrospective (1890-1982)



British Humanities Index (1962- )









Exhibition Reviews in Popular Press

As we discussed earlier, for some current artists, there may not be much scholarship on their works yet. You are more likely to find exhibition reviews in popular press and trade publications.


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

Writing Help

Citing Sources


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