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Consulting a Reference Source
What do you already know about the subject? Save time by first finding some basic, accurate information such as:
- Spelling variations of an artist's name, or of a place (e.g., Greek v. Roman)
- Time period(s), or dates of birth, death, activity, etc.
- Geographic locations/regions
Dictionaries, biographical dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, or other reference books are often a good place to find brief, authoritative information. Such basic tools often can lead you to other credible sources, such as articles or books that are cited in their bibliographies or footnotes.
Printed Reference Sources
Some key reference sources do not have an electronic version but are still available in printed volumes. [Call numbers refer to AFA Library Reference collection, unless noted otherwise.]
- Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale (EAA) All entries in Italian. Seven base volumes, plus six supplements. Heavily illustrated, with extensive bibliographies. N31.E48 Reference
- Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC). Mostly in French, but some entries in English, German, or Italian. Iconography or study of images of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman mythology. Part one contains bibliographies, with corresponding plates in part two. N7760 .L49 1981 Reference
- Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture.The 'classic' survey of architectural history with hundreds of illustrated examples. NA200.F63 1996 Reference
Key Reference Sources for Art & Art History
Oxford Art Online
Contains Grove Art Online (encyclopedia), Oxford Companion to Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms (2 ed.)
An accessible and useful A-Z source, covering a wide range of terms from the visual art world, including materials, techniques, and important styles and periods.
A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (2 ed.)
Entries on architects, terms, periods, and styles, covering all periods of Western architectural history.
A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (3 ed.)
Worldwide coverage of modern and contemporary art from 1900 to the present day, featuring A-Z entries on movements, styles, techniques, artists, critics, schools, and galleries.
A Dictionary of Modern Design
Covers the past 150 years of international design, with succinct entries on major movements, key concepts, design terminology, ceramics, furniture, graphics, industrial design, interiors, fashion, and important design institutions.
Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (2 ed.)
Covers the full breadth of critical thought on art, culture, and society—from classical philosophy to contemporary critical theory—providing a comprehensive survey of major concepts, thinkers, and debates about the meaning, uses, and value of all the arts.
The Oxford Companion to the Garden
Combines a survey of the world's gardens with articles on a range of topics, such as garden visiting, horticulture, scientific issues, and the social history of gardens, as well as biographies of garden designers, nurserymen, and others.
The Oxford Companion to the Photograph
Provides a wide range of technical information in a concise format, with over 800 biographical entries on photographers and others who have influenced photographic culture from 19th century to the present.
The Oxford Companion to Western Art
Provides in-depth coverage of Western Art with entries on artists and their works, styles and movements, art forms and art terms, combined with more modern methodologies, focused on patronage, taste, theory, and criticism, and the scientific examination of materials and techniques
The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists
Biographical and critical guide to American art and artists from colonial times to contemporary postmodernism.
The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (3 ed.)
Covers every period of Western architectural history, with biographical entries on leading historical architects, as well as subjects such as algorithmic design, digital architecture, and parametric design.
The Oxford Dictionary of Art (3 ed.)
A guide to the art of the Western world with facts and critical appraisals, ranging across painting, sculpture, and graphic arts from classical times to the present.
The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (5 ed.)
Covering Western art from the ancient Greeks to the present day, with entries on styles, movements, materials, techniques, museums, and galleries. Also includes biographical entries for artists, critics, collectors, dealers, and patrons, with places and full dates of birth and death.
Open Access Reference Sources
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.