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Subject Guide: Art: Finding Books

This is a guide to resources in art.

Search Tips (Thanks to Nicole Shibata at Cal State U Northridge for this box)

Keywords can be combined with other keywords using the word AND to narrow your topic. For example:

    Michelangelo AND architecture
    portraiture AND painting

Keywords can be combined with synonyms using OR to broaden your search. For example:

    Mona Lisa OR La Joconde OR La Gioconda

Before you begin your search, compile a list of potential keywords related to your topic. For example:

    Artists such as Ed Ruscha or Michelangelo
    Styles and movements such as Art Deco or the Arts and Crafts Movement
    Works such as Urban Light or the Sistine Chapel
    Subject matter such as still life or landscape

To search phrases or titles with multiple words, use quotation marks. Putting these terms in quotes means that the words will be searched as a phrase rather than each word separately. For example:

  • "Arts and Crafts Movement"
  • "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"

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Types of Art Publications (Thanks to Nicole Shibata at Cal State U Northridge for this box)

Exhibition catalog:

    Strictly speaking, an exhibition catalog is a work published to document an exhibition, and includes a list of works exhibited. It may or may not contain additional information, such as illustrations, introductory essays, analyses of the works of art, biographical information on the artists, etc.

    (Cataloging Exhibition Publications: Best Practices: Title and Statement of Responsibility)

These can come in a couple of different flavors: solo and group.

Solo exhibition catalogs focus on the work of a single artist, whereas group exhibition catalogs document an exhibition that features more than one, sometimes several artists.  While group exhibition catalogs may contain valuable information about a single artist, it will not likely be very comprehensive.

Example of an exhibition catalog:
Arts from the scholar's studio : catalogue of an exhibition by the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong

Artist monograph:

    Book publishers use the term "artist monograph" to indicate books dealing with a single artist, as opposed to broader surveys of art subjects.


As the name implies, artist monographs are books about a single artist. They usually highlight the major bodies of work by an artist and often include biographical information and critical essays about the artist.  You may have a more difficult time finding artist monographs about younger or emerging photographers.

Example of an artist monograph:
Diane Arbus by Diane Arbus

Catalogue raisonné:

    This is a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known artworks by an artist either in a particular medium or all media. The works are described in such a way that they may be reliably identified by third parties.


Catalog raisonnés provide the most comprehensive overview of an artist’s body of work because they seek to document every artwork an artist has ever made, either comprehensively or in a specific medium.  For the most part, you will only find catalog raisonnes for very well established artists.

Example of a catalogue raisonné:
Richard Parkes Bonington : the complete paintings by Patrick J. Noon

Library of Congress Call Numbers for Art

N = Visual Art (as a whole)

NA = Architecture

NB = Sculpture

NC = Drawing, Design, Illustration

ND = Painting

NE = Print Media

NK = Decorative arts

NX = Arts in general

TR = Photography

TS = Manufactured products (industrial design, product design, etc.)

TT = Handicrafts, arts and crafts, fashion