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How to Research an Artist or a Work of Art

SIA New York Library Guide

This guide walks you through the steps of researching an artist and of researching a work of art.

The following resources can provide lots of great biographical information on artists.  Check for bibliographies on articles.

Find articles

In many databases you can narrow your search to certain "content types." Look for:

  • Biographies
  • Exhibition Catalogs
  • Periodicals

Off-campus access is limited to SIA faculty, students, and staff, unless otherwise noted. 

Contemporary artists

The more traditional resources in this guide may not cover contemporary artists. A few suggestions are listed below for locating information on contemporary artists.

Cleveland Institute of Art's Contemporary Artist Index is a database that lists over 31,000 artists appearing in more than 1,800 exhibition catalogs and art publications.

Gallery Websites

Gallery Websites

Gallery websites will often contain some basic information on the artists they represent. A simple Google search may lead you to an artist's gallery.

If not, try searching for the artist in the ArtNet Artists A-Z list.  Artist information will often include a link to a list of dealers representing the artist as in the example below from ArtNet for the artist Rashaad Newsome

Example search for artist Rashaad Newsome on artnet's A-Z artist list.

One of the dealers listed is Marlborough Gallery. If you go to the Marlborough Gallery website, you will find a lot of biographical information provided on the artist's page. 

The artist Rashaad Newsome's page on the Marlborough gallery website

Keyword Search Tips

Selected examples of subject search terms to use in databases and library catalogs. Terms can all be modified by place names, e.g., Expatriate artists -- United States. You may also search by the name of an artist, either as an author or as subject. 


Example subject search terms for artists
African American artists Cartoonists Landscape painters
African American women artists Child artists Lithographers
Art teachers Commercial artists Mexican American artists
Artist colonies Costume designers Painters
Artists Designers Performance artists
Artists -- Africa Engravers Portrait painters
Artists -- Asia Etchers Potters
Artists -- Biography Expatriate artists Pre-Raphaelites
Artists -- Europe Fashion designers Printmakers
Artists -- Great Britain Fashion illustrators Sculptors
Artists -- New York Folk artists Textile designers
Artists -- Latin America Furniture designers Women artists
Artists -- Psychology Glass artists Women fashion designers
Artists -- United States Illustrators Women painters
Artists and community Indian artists Women potters
Artists and patrons Industrial designers Women sculptors
Artists with disabilities Interior decorators Wood-engravers
Botanical artists Jewish artists Woodworkers


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