Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Art: Contemporary Artists Research: 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 or to consult about your current research.

If CMU Libraries don't have what you need:
Interlibrary Loan

Browsing the Stacks

 Arts Reference FA-REF-4

This range of call numbers: N500 - N6000 includes...

Major biennial/triennial exhibition catalogs (e.g. Whitney Biennial,  Documenta, Venice Biennial (Bienale di Venezia), Carnegie International..

Selected contemporary or modern art history surveys

Selected subject-specific surveys (e.g.  installation art, etc.)

Selected gallery or museum catalogs

Carnegie Mellon University Libraries use the LC (Library of Congress) Classification System

Hunt Library: Arts Guide: Library of Congress Classification

Library of Congress Classification (across discplines)

Enjoy the Current Journals section of Hunt Library 4th Floor
Back issues of journals in print on the 3rd floor of Hunt.
Many journals are accessible electronically.

Primary Sources

Video Data Bank streaming video archives
On Art and Artists
Videofreex Archive
Early Video Art



The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Digitally Preserves Rare Artist Talks

The John M. Flaxman Library has preserved more than 500 hours of original recordings of rare artists’ lectures and, for the first time, will make the files available unrestricted to the public for educational and research purposes. The recordings include 83 classroom lectures from artist and SAIC faculty member Stan Brakhage between 1970–76 and 284 lectures from the School’s Visiting Artists Program between 1977–96. Included among the 731 master audio files digitally preserved are talks by renowned contemporary artists and scholars Susan Sontag, Barbara Kruger, Guerrilla Girls, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and many others.
Click here for access to the AICs Digital Collections search


Archives of American Art- Smithsonian Institution
Increasingly the archives are coming online,   such as this transcript and audio interview with Kiki  Smith.


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

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
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
PressPLAY: Contemporary Artists in Conversation
. New York, NY: Phaidon, 2005
HUNT FA-REF-4 N6490 .P74 2005

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.

Link here for more primary sources

To find interviews with artists in books or periodicals (magazines, journals, etc.) in databases try searching the artist's name in conjunction with the keyword: interview (or interviews).

Artist Monographs and Exhibition Catalogs

An artist's monograph is any book or exhibition catalog published focusing exclusively on one artist.  You can find them by searching the CMU library catalog, Cameo and/or WorldCat simply by typing in the artist's name in the search window.

Search hints:
Use quotation around the artist's name e.g. "susanne slavick" using the Books and More option

Biographical Reference

These are just a few examples of reference resources that summarize information on contemporary artists and their work.

Use references such as 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


Documents of Contemporary Art Series

Each book in the series numbering over 30 topics is an anthology on a particular theme or practice significant to contemporary culture.

For more series link to:
Critical Studies research guide
Contemporary Visual Culture research guide

Historical Surveys

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

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

Davies, Hugh Marlais and Ronald Onorato J..Blurring the Boundaries: Installation Art 1969-1996.
San Diego: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1997.
FA-REF-4 N6512.5 .I56 M87 1997

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)

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

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

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

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 2008A

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

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

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

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

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

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


Library Catalogs

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.

Use Cameo in conjunction with...

WorldCat a database of library holdings all over the U.S. and internationally including Carnegie Mellon. Subject descriptions are typically more detailed and may not appear in Cameo.

Search Pittsburgh library catalogs

Cameo and WorldCat Search Tips

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.

Navigate to CMU Libraries Journal Search to find out if the journal or magazine you want to access is available in print or electronically at CMU.

Try the following databases first and/or navigate to
Databases for Art or

CMU Libraries Databases A-Z for a full list of Arts and other databases across disciplines available at CMU Libraries...


Art and Architecture 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.

Google Scholar
Open access scholarly web resources.


Journal article index covering theatre, dance and film from 1864 to the present.

Full-text access to important academic journals in all disciplines


Current humanities and social science journals from a variety of university presses

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

Image Databases

Images on artists and their works abound everywhere in print, online and on the free-web. Here are some CMU Libraries database options:

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

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


The Associated Press (AP) Images Collection™ captures events in history and brings them to life through photographs, audio sound bites, graphics and text.

See more image and media options in the Databases for Art research guide

Streaming Sound and Video

Kanopy Streaming Service. Provides remote access to over 25,000 documentary and feature films on many subjects: arts, business, global studies, health, sciences, technical training, etc.
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.

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.

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

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

VDB TV is a rotating series of groundbreaking programs presenting essential video art, streaming free for the first time to the general public on the Video Data Bank website. From early media pioneers, to sensational contemporary artists, VDB TV provides unprecedented access to the culturally significant Video Data Bank archive of more than 600 artists and 6,000 video art titles. VDB TV is curated by prominent programmers and moving image art specialists. To advance accessibility to the VDB collection, all programs included within VDB TV feature closed captions for the hearing impaired.

16,000 downloadable sound effects now available in WAV.
Open Access. Certain copyright restrictions apply

Aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse. 
Studio Cutz
Each CD covers a unique theme, with titles such as "Acoustic Brew" and "Silly Stuff" with 60 second edits, 30 second edits, and short edits (or stingers) of each song. Search "Studio Cutz" in CAMEO for a complete listing.

See more image and media options in the Databases for Art research guide.

Dissertations and Theses

Dissertations and Theses Global
Dissertations and theses from around the world, from 1861 to the present, with full text for most added since 1997.


Bailey, Gauvin A. Art in Time: A World History of Styles and Movements. London: Phaidon Press, 2014.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N5303 .A755 2014

HeilbrunnTimeline of Art History
Online open-access. Chronological, geographical, and thematic concentrating on the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art pre-history to the present.

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

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

Wilkins, David G., Katheryn M Linduff. Art Past, Art Present. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N5300 .W64 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

Atkins, Robert. Artspeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present. 3rd edition. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 2013.
HUNT FA-REF N6490 .A87 1997
Timelines at the front of the book.

Atkins, Robert. Artspoke: A Guide to Modern Ideas, Movements and Buzzwords, 1848-1944. New York: Abbeville, 1993.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N6447 .A85 1993
Timelines at the front of the book.

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

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

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

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

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

Bocola, Sandro. Timelines: The Art of Modernism, 1870-2000. Köln : New York: Taschen, 2001.
HUNT FA-REF-4 N6465 .M63 B6 2001.

Grun, Bernard; Stein, Werner. The Timetables of History : a Horizontal Linkage of People and Events
HUNT FA-REF-4 D11 .G78 1991

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

Lucie-Smith, Edward. Cultural Calendar of the 20th Century. Oxford: Phaidon, 1979.
FA-REF-4 NX456 .L74 1979 and 1997 (New York: Abramas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Access Web Links

These are examples of 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.

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.

"a forum for serious, playful, and radical thinking about art in the world today." Founded 2009; headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.

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.

TED Talks

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

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....


Dia Art Foundation
Mission: " advancing, realizing, and preserving the vision of artists." Commissions artist projects, organizes exhibitions, realizes site-specific installations, and collects in-depth the work of a focused group of artists of the 1960s and 1970s.