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Art: Contemporary Artists: Overview

In this guide

Find resources leading to information on contemporary visual artists: biography, article and image databases, theory and criticism, timelines, streaming video and sound, more. Just-emerging artists may not be documented well or easy to find. Ask for help in navigating to these and other resources.


These are just a few examples of reference resources that summarize information on contemporary artists and their work. Use these with more in-depth information resources such as artist's monographs (a book dedicated to one artist), exhibition catalogs (individual or group shows), museum catalogs, periodicals, and viable open-web resources.
Art Now (various editors and publishers from 2002-2013)
HUNT FA-REF N6490.4 .A37  2002; 2005; 2008; 2013

Pendergast, Sara and Pendergast,Tom, eds. Contemporary Artists. Chicago: St. James Press, 2002. HUNT FA-REF-4 N6490 .C6567 2002, 2 Vols. Previous editions by various editors are shelved next to the 2002 edition.
An excellent way to begin research on a contemporary artist. Contains comprehensive biographical information, individual and group shows, publications on and by the artist and a summary statement about the artists work.

Evans, Martin Marix ed., Contemporary Photographers. New York: St. James Press, 1995.
HUNT FA-REF-4 TR139 .C664 1995 (earlier editions shelved with the 1995 edition)
Same excellent format as in Contemporary Artists (see above).

Cream Series: Contemporary Art in Culture. (London: Phaidon)

Ice Cream  HUNT FA-REF-4 N6490 .I24X 2007
Cream 3 (2003) HUNT-FA-REF-4 N6490 .C742 2003
Fresh Cream HUNT-FA-REF-4 709.04 F885 2000
Cream (1998) HUNT FA-REF-4 N6490 .C729 1998

Grosenick, Uta, ed. Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Century. Köln : Taschen, 2001.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N8354 .W653 2001

Gaze, Delia, ed. Dictionary of Women Artists. London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N8354 .D53 1997

Riggs, Thomas,ed.St. St. James Guide to Black Artists. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997
HUNT FA-REF-4 N40 .S78 1997
Same excellent format as in Contemporary Artists (see above).

Sitsky, Larry, ed. Music of the Twentieth Century Avant Garde: A Biocritical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn. and London: Greenwood Press, 2002.
HUNT FA-REF-4 ML390 .M9574 2002

Who's Who in American Art. New York: R.R. Bowker. Annual.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N6536 .W5
Very brief information

Who's Who in Art. London: The Art Trade Press, Ltd. Annual.
Very brief information



Cameo (Carnegie Mellon library catalog online)
Contemporary art is a collecting priority for the University Libraries, so Cameo is a good place to start in finding artist monographs (books on one artist), exhibition catalogs (on individual artists and group shows) and other works such as recordings, videos and CD's.


Article Databases
Periodical literature is one of the best ways to look for more in-depth information on just-emerging artists because journals, magazines and newspapers are published more frequently (that is, periodically - thus the term, periodical) and tends to be current or even up-to-the-minute. Some of these databases are full-text and/or in PDF format.
Try these first:

Art and Archtecture Source (formerly Art Source)
Full text journal articles with international coverage, books, image collection and more with a focus on the visual arts and architecture.

ARTbibliographies Modern 1974-present
Citations and abstracts
Journal articles, exhibition catalogs, exhibition reviews, books, dissertations and essays in books or exhibition catalogs. Covers modern and contemporary art, art history, photography and design beginning with artists and movements in the late 19th century, and photography since it's invention in 1839.

Interdisciplinary Article Databases

Academic OneFile
Scholarly and other articles in all fields.

Scholarly citations in all disciplines

General OneFile
News and periodical articles both popular and scholarly.

LexisNexis Academic
International news, law & business information.

U.S. newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, dissertations and reports.

Streaming Sound and Video

Dance in Video
Streaming video of influential performers and companies of the 20th century.

Digital Theatre Plus
Recent British theatre productions streamed in high definition; additional educational content. One year trial.
Offers filmed concerts performed by today’s greatest names in classical music, archive movies, inspiring documentaries on performers and composers, educational programs, and master classes.

Met Opera on Demand
Provides unlimited access to more than 450 extraordinary Met performances.

Naxos Music Library Jazz
Streaming music from the artists and collections of Fantasy Records.

Naxos Music Library
Recordings for genres such as Classical, Jazz, Blues, Nostalgia, World, Contemporary Instrumental, Chinese, Pop and Rock, Gospel, Spoken Word, and Relaxation. iPhone and Android apps available.

High-quality films of full-length performances by some of today’s most provocative artists working in dance, theater, music and other forms that defy categorization.

Opera in Video
Streaming video of performances, interviews, and documentaries that cover the full range of operatic composition, from the Baroque to the 20th century.

Theatre in Video
Streaming video of definitive theatre performances and documentaries.

Image Databases
Images on artists and their works abound everywhere in print, online and on the free-web. Ask a librarian for help in locating the best resources and/or visit the University Libraries web site for a more comprehensive look at good image resources.

Visual Resources Collection (CMU Arts Library)
An excellent array of high-resolution image collections.
Start with

Oxford Art Online Image Search
Click the images box to find 20th century artists images in Oxford Art Online

For a full list of Arts and other databases across disciplines navigate to
CMU Libraries Databases A-Z

Theory and Criticism
There are many good reference resources you might begin with in order to gain access to writings, theories and documents on contemporary artists. Here are a few basic references you might consider in browsing some theoretical aspects of contemporary art. Ask a librarian for more help on how to locate critical works on contemporary artists.

Atkins, Robert. ArtSpeak: a Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the present. New York: Abbeville, 1997.
FA-REF-4 N6490 .A87 1997

Daly, Steven and Wice, Nathaniel. alt.culture: an a-z guide to the '90s- underground, online, and over-the counter. NY: New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
FA-REF-4 HQ 2042.W53

Mora, Gilles. Photospeak: a Guide to Ideas, Movements and Techniques of Photography, 1839 to the Present. New York: Abbeville, 1998.
FA-REF-4 TR15 .M63 1998
Nelson, Robert S. and Richard Schiff. Critical Terms for Art History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Online and in print HUNT FA-REF-4 N34 .C75 2003

Walker, John A. Glossary of Art, Architecture and Design since 1945. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1992.
FA-REF-4 N34 .W34 1992

Historical Surveys

Fineberg, Jonathan David. Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being. New York: Abrams, 1995; 2000
HUNT-FA-REF M6512.5 .M63 F56 2000 (earlier edition in circulating stacks- check library catalog)

Weintraub, Linda, Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art's Meaning in Contemporary Society, 1970s-1990s. Litchfield, CT: Art Insights, 1996.
FA-REF-4 N6490 .W45 1996

Lucie-Smith, Edward. Art Today. London: Phaidon, 1995..
FA-REF-4 N6490 .L7783 1995X

Heartney, Eleanor. Art & Today. London: Phaidon Press, 2008
FA-REF-4 N6490 .H42 2008Â

Blurring the Boundaries: Installation Art 1969-1996.
San Diego: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1997.
FA-REF-4 N6512.5 .I56 M87 1997

Taylor, Brandon. Contemporary Art Since 1970. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.
FA-REF-4 N6490 .T36523 2005

Bell, Doris L. Contemporary Art Trends: 1960-1980. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1981.
FA-REF-4 Z593.5 .B44

Jones, Amelia and Adrian Heatherfield. Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History. Bristol, UK; Chicago: Intellect, 2012.
HUNT STACKS-4 NX 456.5 .P38 P474

Tallman, Susan. The Contemporary Print from Pre-Pop to Postmodern. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.
HUNT FA-REF-4 NE490 .T35 1996

Hall, Doug and Fifer, Sally Jo, ed. Illuminating Video: an Essential Guide to Video Art. New York: Aperture/ Bay Area Video Coalition, 1990.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N6494 .V53 I4 1990

Green, Rachel. Internet Art. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004.
FA-REF-4 N7433.8 .G73 2004

Rosen, Randy, curator. Making Their Mark: Women Move Into the Mainstream, 1970-1985. New York: Abbeville, 1989.
FA-REF-4 N6512 .M27 1988

Marcoci, Roxana, ed., New Art. New York: Abrams, 1997.
FA-REF-4 709.04 N53232

Causey, Andrew. Sculpture Since 1945. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
FA-REF-4 NB198 .C38 1998

Lander, Dan and Lexier, Micah, ed. Sound by Artists. Toronto: Art Metropole; Banff: Walter Phillips Gallery, 1990.
FA-REF-4 NX650 .S68 S68 1990

Critical Writings: Compliations

Alberro, Alexander and Stimson, Blake, eds. Conceptual Art : A Critical Anthology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999.
FA-REF-4 N6494 .C63 C597 1999

Bradley, Will and Esche, Charles eds. Art and Social Change: A Critical Reader. Millbank, London: Tate Publishing, 2007.

Gayford, Martin and Wright, Karen, eds. The Grove Book of Art Writing: Brilliant Writing on Art from Pliny the Elder to Damien Hirst. New York: Grove Press, 1998.
FA-REF-4 N7443 .G727 2000

Harrison, Charles and Wood, Paul, ed. Art in Theory, 1900-1990
and Art in Theory, 1900-2000. Oxford and Cambridge: Blackwell 1993 and Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003
FA-REF-4 N6490 .A7167 1993; 2003
Hassan, Salah and Dadi, Iftikhar. Unpacking Europe: Towards a Critical Reading. Rotterdam, The Netherlands : Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen : NAi Publishers, 2001.
FA-REF-4 N6758 .M87

Murray, Chris, ed. Key Writers on Art: The Twentieth Century. London and New York; Routledge, 2003.
FA-REF-4 N6490 .A7167 1993; 2003

Prosyniuk, Joann, ed. Modern Arts Criticism: a Biographical and Critical Guide to Painters, Sculptors, Photographers and Architects from the Beginning of the Modern Era to the Present. Detroit: Gale Research, 1991.
FA-REF-4 N6489 .M63 1991 3 Volumes.

Robinson, Hilary, ed. Feminism-Art-Theory: An Anthology 1968-2000. Oxford, England and Malden, Massachusettes: Blackwell Publishers, 2001.
FA-REF-4 N72 .F45 F442

Smith, Paul and Wilde, Carolyn, eds. A Companion to Art Theory. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2002.
FA-REF-4 N61.C58

Artists' Writings or Interviews: Compliations

Stiles, Kristine and Selz, Peter, ed. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: a Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
FA-REF-4 N6490 .T492 1996

Robertson, Jack S. Twentieth-Century Artists on Art: an Index to Writings, Statements, and Interviews by Artists, Architects, and Designers. Second enlarged edition. New York : G.K. Hall ; London : Prentice Hall International, 1996.
FA-REF-4 NX456 .R59 1996

Robinson, Hilary, ed. Feminism-Art-Theory: An Anthology 1968-2000. Oxford, England and Malden, Massachusettes: Blackwell Publishers, 2001.
FA-REF-4 N72 .F45 F442 2001
PressPLAY: Contemporary Artists in Conversation
. New York, NY: Phaidon, 2005
HUNT FA-REF-4 N6490 .P74 2005


Art of our Century: the Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the present.. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1989.
FA-REF-4 N6490 .A8913 1989

Wilkins, David G. Art Past, Art Present
HUNT FA-REF-4 N5300 .W64 2009
Earlier editions also available.

Steer, John. Atlas of Western Art History: Artists, Sites and Movements from Ancient Greece to the Modern Age. New York; Oxford: Facts on File, 1994.
FA-REF-4 G1046 .E64 S7 1994

Paxton, John. Calendar of Creative Man. New York: Facts on File, 1980.
FA-REF-4 NX447.5 .P38

The Chronicle of Cinema, 1895-1995. London: British Film Institute/David Robinson, 1994.
FA-REF-4 791.43 C557

Lucie-Smith, Edward. Cultural Calendar of the 20th Century. Oxford: Phaidon, 1979.
FA-REF-4 NX456 .L74

Magill, Frank Northen. Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series
HUNT FA-REF-4 NX456 .G72 1993 (5 volumes)

Roslin, Mair. Key Dates in Art History from 600 B.C. to the Present. Oxford: Phaidon; New York: Dutton, 1979.
FA-REF-4 N5300 .M26 1979

The New York Times Guide to the Arts of the 20th Century. Chicago : Fitzroy Dearborn, 2002.
FA-REF NX456 .N49 2002 (4 volumes)

Oxford Reference Online Timelines
An historical timeline from 1000 BCE to the present.

Timeline of Art History (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Chronological, geographical, and thematic concentrating on the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art pre-history to the present. Begun in 2000; researched and written by the museum's curatorial, conservation, and education staff.

Ochoa, George. Timeline Book of the Arts. New York: Ballantine, 1995
FA-REF-4 NX447.5 .O28 1995

Brownstone, David and Franck, Irene. Timelines of the Arts and Literature. New York: Harper Collins Pub., 1994.
FA-REF NX447.5 .B76 1994

Grun, Bernard; Stein, Werner.
The Timetables of History : a Horizontal Linkage of People and Events

HUNT FA-REF-4 D11 .G78 1991

Smith, Edward-Lucie. Visual Arts in the 20th Century. New York: Abrams, 1997.
FA-REF-4 N6490 .L792 1997

Alternate Explorations

  • BROWSE! Hunt Library location FA-REF-4 or circulating book locations in the library between the call number ranges:  N500 - N6000

This range of call numbers includes:
Major biennial/triennial exibition catalogs (e.g. Whitney Biennial,  Documenta, Venice Biennial (Bienale di Venezia), Carnegie International..
Contemporary or modern art history surveys
Subject-specific surveys (e.g. a survey on installation art)
Selected major gallery or museum catalogs

  • BROWSE! The Current Journals section of Hunt Library 4th Floor
    see also recent back issues of journals in print on the 3rd floor of Hunt.

  • Search Pittsburgh library catalogs
    or WorldCat to verify resources on artists in libraries nationally and internationally.

  • Open-Access links on the Worldwide web
    These are reliable free web resources. Use these alternatively with established print resources, databases or online resources you trust.

Art21 Magazine Blog
from the website:
"Art21 was founded in 1997 with the belief that contemporary visual art is of real interest and value to a broad audience. By making contemporary art more accessible through public television and the Internet, Art21 affords an intimate encounter with contemporary art and the people who make it, encouraging creative thinking and self-expression.

Artcylopedia (John Malyon, Alberta, Canada)
Free-web encyclopedia of thousands of links to artists and their work with introductory biographies for each artist. Includes a glossary and handy gateway to museum links worldwide.

Center for Contemporary Non-Objective Art
"... multidisciplinary non-for-profit art center located in central Brussels... international presentation of all forms of contemporary non-objective art, notably painting, sculpture, photography, site-specific installation, video, sound art as well as architecture.

Modern and Contemporary Artists and Art
A free-web resource with 20th-21st century artists biographies and photo portraits, selected images of artists works. Also includes images and links via art movements or medium. Site began in 1998, based in the Netherlands and is hosted at in the United States. Partners with the for-profit sector, so expect promos and advertisements that may not be related to your search. Artists and galleries can also pay to be included in the site.

Open access avant-garde visual, concrete and sound poetry, film, video and more

TED Talks

Vimeo Art


Universes in Universe: Worlds of Art
Visual arts from Africa, Asia, the Americas in the international art context; international calendar of biennials;
exhibitions, news, projects, articles, publications....



A publishing
/curatorial platform and archive for contemporary art, culture and theory internationally. If you subscribe to the e-mail newsletter be ready to receive  two or three messages a day announcing and describing international projects.

Online Encyclopedias

Four arts encyclopedias that you can search at one time online.


Encyclopedias and dictionaries across disciplines.


Dictionaries and other reference works across disciplines.


The first place to go to find high-resolution images on art and artists accompanied by scholarly image data.


Mo Dawley
Art and Drama Librarian