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ARTH 374 - Art Now!

Research tips and resources for Prof. McGuire's ARTH374 - Art Now! course.

How to find books & catalogs

Scholarly and academic books (sometimes called monographs) are books on a single subject, written by scholars (professors or other academics), and usually published by university presses. These are one of your best resources for research in art history.

Art catalogs are another major source for research in the arts. These differ from academic/scholarly books in that they usually focus on a single exhibition or documentation of an artists' work, rather than providing extensive analysis or historic research.

  • Exhibition catalogs document specific exhibitions or traveling exhibitions. These often include images and essays from curators or scholars, and can help you to understand in what context artworks have been shown.
  • A catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive documentation of the known works of an artist, and might be organized by medium (like drawing or printmaking), subject, or time period. These can be useful for exploring the breadth of an artists' work, exhibition histories, provenance (previous owners), and more.

To search for art catalogs at Mason and beyond, use the library's Advanced Search:

Screenshot of Mason Libraries catalog search, example of search for "judy chicago" and "catalogs"

Find Books About Your Artist

1. Start with the Mason Libraries catalog

  • ​Use Mason's library catalog and search for your artist by name. It's unusual for whole books to be written about a single work of art, so focus on the artist more broadly, or a particular medium or period of their work.
    • See this short tutorial to learn advanced search techniques for the library catalog.
    • TIP: Choose the "Advanced Search" option. Then, under the "Any field" drop-down, choose "Subject" and enter your artist's name in the search field. This will search for books/articles that are specifically ABOUT your artist, rather than anything that simply mentions their name only once or briefly.
    • After searching, you can limit your results to just books/ebooks using the "Resource Type >> Books" filter in the left sidebar.

2. Look at the museum website where your object lives.

  • Many D.C. museums have extensive artwork information on their websites. Search for your chosen artwork, and you may find a list of publications on the artwork's information page (look for "Bibliography" or "Other Sources"). Then, search for these books or articles in Mason.

3. Look for books in Worldcat.

  • Worldcat Discovery can help you find almost any book owned by libraries in North America and Europe, and is your best tool for searching beyond Mason and WRLC collections. If Mason doesn't own the item, use Interlibrary Loan to request it.