James H. Thomason Library

ART 120 Course Guide: Basic 2-D Design
Reference Sources

Composition VIII.   Wassily Kandinsky (1923). Oil on canvas.
Repository: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. ARTstor Image Database

  Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
Pronunciation Guides
  Handbooks, Companions
  Biographical Sources
Locating Books
  PASCAL Catalog
Locating Articles
  Article Databases
  Journal Finder
Image Databases
Web Sites

denotes recommended resource

Reference Sources:    
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias   back to top

ArtLex  (free online resource). Definitions for more than 3,600 terms used in discussing art / visual culture, along with thousands of supporting images, pronunciation notes, great quotations and cross-references

Bloomsbury Guide to Art.   Shearer West, editor. Bloomsbury, 1996.

The Bloomsbury Guide to Art is one of the most up-to-date and comprehensive surveys of the history of art and architecture available today. It is an invaluable reference source and provides a fascinating insight into the origins and significance of the work of Western artists and architects

It includes tightly-focused entries on: individual artists; art, architecture and design terminology; countries and their cultural significance; theoretical concepts; and mythological and religious subjects and symbols. There are also contextualized entries on important individual works of art. (from publisher's description).

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms [Oxford Reference Online]. Michael Clarke and Deborah Clarke. Oxford University Press, c2003.

Searchable database of over 1,800 terms used in the wide variety of visual media.

The Dictionary of Art (aka Grove Dictionary of Art). 34 volumes.  Jane Turner, editor.  Grove's Dictionaries, 1996.   Although titled "Dictionary," this 34-volume set is encyclopedic in scope.  

Main Level, Reference: R 703 D561D

A Dictionary of Modern Design [electronic resource] Jonathan M. Woodham.  Oxford University Press, 2004, c2005

Summary: From Art Nouveau to Postmodernism, Benetton to Frank Lloyd Wright, this fascinating dictionary covers the past 150 years of international design, with accessible and succinct entries on ceramics, furniture, graphics, industrial design, interiors, and fashion. Designers and manufacturers feature in a range of biographical entries, and the dictionary's international focus takes in major movements, key concepts, design terminology, and important design institutions, museums, and heritage sites. 

The Design Encyclopedia. Mel Byars  Wiley, c1994.  

Main Level, Reference: R 745.44403 B99D

The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art. edited by Gerald W.R. Ward. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008.   

Main Level, Reference: R 702.8 G919G 

The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists [Oxford Reference Online]  Ann Lee Morgan Oxford University Press, 2007.
Searchable online resource with 945 alphabetically-arranged entries offering an insightful and informative view of America's artistic heritage. This biographical and critical guide to American art from colonial times to contemporary postmodernism provides readers with a wealth of factual detail and perceptive analysis of America's leading painters. Prominent sculptors and photographers are also covered as well as contemporary installation artists. The dictionary also provides entries on notable American institutions, organizations, schools, techniques, styles, and movements, while examining important individuals connected to the art scene.--From title screen.

The Oxford Dictionary of Art [Oxford Reference Online].  Ian Chilvers.  Oxford University Press, 2004  3rd ed  

Also available in print: Main Level, Reference: R 703.21 Ox2O  

This single-volume guide to the art of the Western world "provides a careful balance of fact and critical appraisal, ranging across painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts from classical times to the present." [from publisher's site]

The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists [Oxford Reference Online].  Oxford U. Press, 2009. 4th ed.  Covering Western art from the ancient Greeks to the present day, this best-selling and authoritative dictionary is more wide-ranging than any comparable reference work. It contains over 2,500 clear and concise entries on styles and movements, materials and techniques, and museums and galleries. It also includes biographical entries for artists, critics, collectors, dealers, and patrons, with places and full dates of birth and death (in many instances correcting misinformation that has found its way into other sources). For this new edition, entries have been thoroughly revised and updated, and more than fifty new entries have been added, for example Tracey Emin and Jack Vettriano. (from publisher)

The Prestel Dictionary of Art and Artists in the 20th Century.   Prestel Verlag Pub., 2000.  

Main Level, Reference:  R 709.04003 P926P

Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers.  Alan and Isabella Livingston. Thames & Hudson, c2003.  

Main Level, Reference: R 741.603 L762T

Pronunciation Guides   back to top

Use this resource's audio feature for pronunciation of names of persons, places, art terms, etc.




Handbooks, Companions    back to top

Art in the Modern Era: A Guide to Styles, Schools & Movements 1860 to the Present
Amy Dempsey. Harry N. Abrams Pub., 2002.  

Main Level, Reference: R 709.04003 D399A

The Color Compendium. Augustine Hope and Margaret Walch. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990.

Main Level, Reference: R 701.8 H771C

The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Art. Harold Osborne. ed. Oxford University Press, 1984.  

Main Level, Reference:  R 709.04 Ox2O Includes biographical entries as well as brief summaries of terms, concepts, movements. 

The Oxford Companion to Western Art. [Oxford Reference Online] Hugh Brigstocke, editor.  Oxford University Press, 2004.

  This online version 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. Critical appreciation and factual information on over 1700 artists from classical times to the 20th century are included with 49 feature articles covering a broad spectrum of topics from art history and its methods to wall painting.

Biographical Sources

  back to top

Biography in Context Gale/Cengage Learning.

  Full-text access to biographical encyclopedias and dictionaries, including Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vols. 7-77. Detroit: Gale, 1992-2008;  Contemporary Artists. 5th ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 2001; Contemporary Designers. 3rd ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1999. Contemporary Women Artists. Detroit: St. James Press, 1999.; International Dictionary of Art and Artists. 2 vols. Detroit: St. James Press, 1990; St. James Guide to Black Artists. Thomas Riggs, editor  St. James Press, 1997.  

Clara Database of Women Artists. National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Interactive database containing authoritative information on 18,000 women visual artists of all time periods and nationalities. The information in Clara® is drawn from the materials in NMWA’s extensive Archives on Women Artists.

Contemporary Artists. 
Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast, eds. St. James Press, 2002 
(2 volumes).  

Main Level, Reference:  R 709.22 C767C

The Dictionary of Art. (also known as Grove's Dictionary of Art) Jane Turner, editor. Grove's Dictionaries, 1996. 34 volumes.

Although titled "Dictionary," this 34-volume set is encyclopedic in scope.

Main Level, Reference: R 703 D561D


Dictionary of Women Artists.  Delia Gaze, ed. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997 (2 volumes). Main Level, Reference: R 709.22 D561D

North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century : A Biographical Dictionary.  Jules Heller and Nancy G. Heller, eds.   Garland, 1995  Garland, 1995.

Main Level, Reference:  R 709.22 N811N

St. James Guide to Hispanic Artists: Profiles of Latino and Latin American Artists. Thomas Riggs, ed.   St. James Press, c2002.  

Main Level, Reference: R 704.0368 Sa22S

World Artists, 1950-1980. Claude Marks.  H.W. Wilson Co., 1984.
Main Level, Reference
R 709.22 M342W

Locating Books   back to top
THOMCAT   back to top


Use the online catalog to locate books in Thomason Library. You can search by author, title, keyword, or subject.

  • Search for a person, as AUTHOR or SUBJECT, with last name, first name.
    NOTE: Thomcat records for exhibition catalogs will usually list artist in "author" field.         

  Kandinsky, Wassily, 1866-1944   [as AUTHOR]

  Kandinsky, Wassily, 1866-1944   [as SUBJECT]
  Albers, Anni  [as SUBJECT]
   Albers, Anni  (as AUTHOR)
  Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald [as SUBJECT] (in PASCAL catalog)
  • SUBJECT searching requires use of Library of Congress subject headings. The terms below are examples of subject headings related to two dimensional design.
                Composition (Art)
             Color in art
             Drawing -- Study and teaching
                Drawing -- Technique
             Painting -- Technique
             Visual perception

Subject searching is an effective and precise method of searching the catalog, however, KEYWORD searching has benefits, also.

  • Try a KEYWORD search if you are unsure of the exact title or the correct subject heading to use. Search using two or three of the most significant words from the title or subject you are trying to find. Place phrases in "quotation marks."

  • Connect words with AND, OR, NOT to focus your search.
  • Try truncation at the end of a word stem to retrieve singular, plural, and other variations of the word.  Use an asterisk (*) to truncate from 1 to 5 characters. Use a double asterisk (**) to include word endings with an unlimited number of characters.
KEYWORD Searching Tips

Add * to the root of a word to truncate or expand
a term:
art* = a
rt, arts, artist, artists, etc.

· Use AND between words to narrow your search:
AND function

· Use OR between synonyms, alternate spellings, etc.

to expand your search
color*OR colour*

When combined with an "AND" statement, group "OR" terms with parentheses (__ OR ___)
(charcoal OR conte) AND drawing*

Try KEYWORD searching with ThomCat, other library catalogs & library databases

PASCAL Catalog   back to top

If you need books in addition to those found at Thomason Library, search here for books in other academic libraries in SC. Through PASCAL Delivers, you can order books online for delivery within 3-4 working days. This service for current PC students, faculty, and staff is a project of PASCAL- Partnership Among SC Academic Libraries. Borrowers will be notified by e-mail when requested items arrive at Thomason Library. Click here for searching and ordering tips.

WorldCat   back to top

A catalog of books and other materials at libraries worldwide. Try searching here to find all books available on a topic. Materials available at Thomason Library are highlighted and others can be borrowed through ILL or searched in PASCALCAT.

Interlibrary Loan - ILL is available to PC students, faculty and staff in order to share resources between libraries.  Use this service to borrow books and to request copies of journal articles not available through our collections. Check link for instructions.

Locating Articles   back to top
Article Databases   back to top

The following journal databases are available to PC students, faculty, and staff from on- and off-campus locations.  When passworded from off campus locations, supply your PC e-mail account username [i.e. tinman] and password.  Search databases using terms dealing with your topic.


Academic Search Complete [ EBSCOhost]

  Scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, with more than 8,500 full-text  

   periodicals, including more than 7,300 peer-reviewed journals.

  Arts & Sciences Collections I, II, & III contain an archive of over 350 full-text journals which   

  are searchable through JSTOR or accessible through Journal Finder, which provides full-text   

  articles in Thomason Library's electronic databases. The collections include journals in art,

  architecture, economics, film, folklore, history, performing arts, political science, religion,

  sociology, humanities, mathematics, and statistics. JSTOR is a journal archive with complete runs

  of journals up to three years ago. Current issues are not available in JSTOR, but may be in other


Project MUSE Basic Undergraduate Collection  

  Current and recent volumes of 111 core journals in the humanities and social sciences.

Journal Finder   back to top


Search Journal Finder to determine if PC has full text for the journal, magazine or newspaper article you need.  Journal Finder will provide the range of dates available as well as a link to the database.

Browse Journal Finder by title or subject. When browsing or searching, you can read articles from any journal that is available in the Full-text resources online group of results. Choose a database in this group based on the dates available and the time frame in which you are interested.


Image Databases   back to top

Initiated at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the ARTstor Digital Library is comprised of approximately 300,000 digital images of visual material from different time-periods, cultures, and disciplines derived from several source collections that are the product of collaborations with libraries, museums, photographic archives, publishers, slide libraries, and individual scholars.  These source collections include The Carnegie Arts of the U. S., The Huntington Archive of Asian Art, The Illustrated Bartsch, The Mellon International Dunhuang Archive, and The Museum of Modern Art (New York) Architecture and Design Collection. ARTstor provides a wide range of visual materials for educational and scholarly use, and broader access to images of important art, architecture, design and archeological objects.

Bridgeman Art Library Archive [CREDO Reference]. Bridgeman Art Library, 2008.
An outstanding archive of images drawn from collections throughout the world. Every subject, concept, style and medium is represented, from the masterpieces of national museums to the hidden treasures of private collections. Fine art as well as design, antiques, maps, architecture, furniture, glass, ceramics, anthropological artefacts and many others are featured in the collection.

CAMIO (Catalog of Art Images Online) OCLC's Catalog of Art Museum Images Online — is a growing online collection documenting works of art from around the world, representing the collections of prominent museums. CAMIO highlights the creative output of cultures around the world, from prehistoric to contemporary times, and covering the complete range of expressive forms. (from website)

Web Sites   back to top

.  The Fine Art search engine. Over 1200 arts sites indexed plus more than 32,000 links to an estimated 100,000 works by 7,500 renowned artists (as of Jan.2006). Provides references to sites on the World Wide Web where artists' works can be viewed online, including museum sites, image archives, and other online resources.

Artchive. Multi-link site. Provides narrative text as well as links to artwork images.

ArtSource. "...a gathering point for networked resources on Art and Architecture. The content is diverse and includes pointers to resources around the net as well as original materials submitted by librarians, artists, and art historians, etc. This site is intended to be selective, rather than comprehensive. For help in locating specific art-related information the *BEST* source of information is your local art librarian...keep in mind that while there is a tremendous amount of information available here, not everything is available via the Web!" [from the Artsource site].

Bauhaus Archive: Museum of Design  Click on "Collections" tab to select from Art, Architecture, Photography, and other categories.

Josef and Annie Albers Foundation  Includes image galleries, bibliography, etc.

Modernism  Minneapolis Institute of Arts site. Categories include Arts & Crafts (British & American), Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus, De Stijl, Wiener Werkstätte.

Get Help   back to top
Stop by the
Reference Desk

Sara Rowe 833-8313
Dan Lee 833-8437


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