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Free resources: Contemporary art and design

Free online resources about art and the art world.

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picture of contemporary art gallery
Cropped version of image by ©Steven Kreuzer on Flickr. Licence for this image


Key resources

Repositories are often the best starting point for finding free scholarly material.  They are large online collections, created by universities and other institutions, and usually include the most up-to-date research.  Our guide to repositories gives more information, with links to tools for searching many repositories at once.


JURN is another good option for finding free scholarly journal articles.


EThOS provides access to doctoral theses (dissertations) from UK universities, and other degree-awarding institutions in the UK. When searching, check the box Limit search to items available for immediate download... for material you can read on your laptop or other device.


The websites of contemporary galleries and contemporary artists are important resources and easily found with Google or a similar search engine.  They are one of the best sources of images of artworks. However it is also worth checking the image resources guide: all the resources there, apart from those listed on the subscription databases tab, are free to view online.


Other resources, A-Z

Please also check the other tabs of this guide, as there is much subject overlap.


Archive of Digital Art
Formerly known as the Database of Virtual Art.


Very good website about contemporary art from central and Eastern Europe.


Online news, including many articles about contemporary art.


Asia Art Archive
Covers contemporary and near-contemporary Asian art.


Blouin Art Info 
Current news about the art world. Offers an international version of the site, as well as versions designed for readers in different countries.


British Artists' Moving Image Database
An excellent guide to moving image art, though does not give access to the art itself. Covers all kinds of artworks using moving image, by British and British-based artists.


Catalogues Raisonnés Database
A guide to catalogues raisonnés, both published and in preparation.  Some of these are free online, though unfortunately it is not possible to search specifically for these.  Worth checking if you are researching a high-profile artists from the last few decades.


College Art Association: list of dissertations completed and in progress
Gives details of PhD dissertations in art history and visual studies from US and Canadian institutions. However please note the dissertations cannot be read via this site.


Contemporary Artists Index
Search for books and exhibition catalogues featuring the work of a particular contemporary artist. 36,000 artists included. The listing of books and catalogues is nowhere near comprehensive, but may be a useful supplementary research tool. Compiled by the Cleveland Institute of Art library.


Courtauld Institute: recently completed PhD theses
List of PHD theses from the last few years: more up-to-date than EThOS. No online access to the theses themselves. For this you will need to contact the Courtauld book library.


Digital Art Museum
"An online resource for the history and practice of digital fine art".


Directory of Open Access Books
Current scholarly books online, including a good range of titles about art.


Directory of Open Access Journals
Large collection of online articles, including good amount of material about art.


East Art Map
Website about eastern European contemporary artists.


Everyday Listening
Sound art website.


Journal (and many other projects).  Much content is free.  Current SIA students and staff should contact the library for log-in for the remaining articles.


Global Electronic Theses and Dissertations Search
A search engine for finding free online versions of theses and dissertations. PQDT Open is a smaller collection, with no content not found in Global ETD, but may be easier to search for some topics.


Google Scholar
Google's specialist search engine for academic content. material that is free to read online while have a PDF link on the right of the screen. Note: current students and staff at SIA should access Scholar via the library database guide, in order to link through to resources available on subscription.


Guggenheim Publications
Online catalogues and other publications from the Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum.


"A forum for playful, serious and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today."


I Photo Central
Provides "thousands of web pages for the photography collector, curator and historian". Includes all issues of the E-Photo Newsletter.


Iniva reading lists
Iniva specalises in exhibiting the work of culturally diverse artists.  These bibliographies provide suggestions for reading on various topics.


International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA)
"INCAA members are dedicated to creating, sharing and preserving knowledge needed to conserve modern and contemporary art."


JSTOR is mainly a subscription service, but gives limited free access to the general public. If you find an article you want to read, use the Register & Read service.  You can access 3 articles in each 14-day period. Current SIA students and staff should generally not use the above link, but instead follow the JSTOR link from the library database guide, because that will give access to the SIA subscription. 


Journal TOCs
Sign up for notifications when new articles are published by your favourite journals. Please note: the links to journals and articles in the notification emails will not give you access to the articles (despite what the email says), except in the case of free online journals. Instead, you will need to find a library which offers this journal either on paper or online.


Magazines and journals
There is a large number of free online titles, for instance the e-flux journalLeap (for Chinese art), n:paradoxa (for feminist art), Parkett, the Source Photographic Review and Texte zur Kunst. Please note: many journals offer free access to some articles only.  Current SIA students and staff can often access more via the journals guide.


One of many free sites devoted to internet art.


OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks)
Scholarly books, including some important titles about art and art markets.


Aims to provide information about "leading contemporary artists, exhibitions and galleries worldwide" for "an influential global audience."


Primary Information
Books and catalogues relating to 1960s and 1970s conceptual art and performance.


A directory of scholarly resources, free online, with an emphasis on journals. Please note it finds journals, not individual journal articles.


Searching social media and online news
Guide provided by the SIA librarians.


"Dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts."


!Women Art Revolution
Interviews with 1970s feminist artists and critics, available as both videos and transcripts.