Modern and Contemporary Art

Please use “Guide Index” to click directly to biographies, bibliographies, encyclopedias, exhibitions, etc.


Charles O. Perry, Duality The Bicycle Race, Lyonel Feininger, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Click on images for illustration sources.


Article Databases and Dissertations

Database Indexes to Articles in Journals and Dissertations

(For a complete list of databases, see Databases A-Z.)

Note: Covers publications from 1964 to the present. Subject index to articles, book reviews, and dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.

Note: Covers articles published from 1984 to the present. Periodical coverage includes English-language periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins, as well as periodicals published in French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, and Swedish. In addition to articles, Art Abstracts indexes reproductions of works of art that appear in indexed periodicals. Subjects covered include archaeology, architecture, art history, city planning, crafts, motion pictures, graphic arts, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, museology, and photography.

Note: Covers articles published from 1929 to 1984. Periodical coverage includes English-language periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins, as well as periodicals published in French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, and Swedish. In addition to articles, Art Abstracts indexes reproductions of works of art that appear in indexed periodicals. Subjects covered include archaeology, architecture, art history, city planning, crafts, motion pictures, graphic arts, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, museology, and photography

Note: Covers articles published from 1969 to the present. Indexes articles, books, exhibition catalogs, and theses on modern art, photography, and design from late 19th century to the present.

AskART AcademicA database of information about American artists, including names, birth and death dates, state or local affiliation, fields in which artist worked, book and periodical references to artist, dealers and museums where works may be viewed, auction prices of works, some biographical details, etc.

Note: Covers publications from 1973 to 2009. Getty Information Institute. Indexes books, journals, dissertations, and exhibition catalogs. Covers Western art, all media, from late antiquity to the present. Includes RILA (International Repertory of the Literature of Art, 1975-1989 , and RAA (Repertoire d’Art et d’Archeologie, 1973-1989. RAA covers late antiquity to the present; excludes Islamic, Far Eastern, and primitive art and archaeology.

Note: Covers articles published from 1984 to the present. Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Multidisciplinary, multilingual database with emphasis on humanities and social sciences.

Note: Covers publications from 1969 to the present. Indexes articles, book reviews, and dissertations on the history and culture of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 to the present.

Note: Covers dissertations from 1861 to the present. Citations to dissertations accepted for doctoral degrees at accredited North American institutions and more than 200 institutions elsewhere; abstracts are available from 1980 to date. Of the more than 2.3 million dissertations and theses cited in the database, over 925,000 dissertations are available for download. Citations to masters’ theses from 1962 to date; abstracts available from 1988 to date. For a subject list of Dissertations in Progress, see the June issue of Art Bulletin.

Web of science

Access to scholarly literature in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Includes citation databases– Social sciences citation index (SSCI), 1965-present; Arts & humanities citation index (A&HCI), 1975-present.  Also,  conference proceedings citation index-Social science & humanities (CPCI-SSH), 1990-present;  Book citation index-Social sciences & humanities (BKCI-SSH), 2005-present.

Journals and Magazines (selected)

Avant-Garde and Modernist Magazines (reference guide with links to magazine sources, e.g., Internet Archive)

October (Cambridge, MA)(Published from 1976 on. Peer-reviewed (refereed) journal devoted to contemporary art, criticism, and theory.  MIT Press.)

The Art Newspaper (From October 1990 to today’s issue)

Third Text (Online) Published from 1978 on. Peer-reviewed (refereed) bimonthly  journal specializing in art in a global context.


Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Art & Architecture: Oxford Reference Online


ArtLex (Art Dictionary)

“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.” (Michael Delahunt)

Artspeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and zzwords, 1945 to the Present, by Robert Atkins, 2nd ed. Short, alphabetically arranged essays provide definitions including information about who, when, where, and what. Timeline and illustrations.
MugarN 6490 A87 1997

Artspoke: A Guide to Modern Ideas, Movements, and zzwords, 1848-1944, by Robert Atkins. Short, alphabetically arranged essays provide definitions including information about who, when, where, and what. Timeline and illustrations.
MugarN 6447 A85 1993

Artwords: A Glossary of Contemporary Art Theory, by Thomas Patin and Jennifer McLerran. Includes over 400 terms and phrases used in current theory and criticism of visual art and culture.
Mugar  N 71 P32 1997

Concepts of Modern Art: from Fauvism to Postmodernism, ed. Nikos Stangos, 3rd ed. Lengthy essays with bibliographies by individual authors. 139 illustrations.
Mugar  N 6490 C65617 1994

Contemporary Masterworks, ed. Colin Naylor. Entries on 450 individual works of art, architecture, photography and design include photos illustrating the featured work; artist, title, date, medium, and location; bibliography; and signed critical essays.
Mugar Folio N 6490 C65675 1991

Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art

This is the second edition, 2009, of the Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art, by Ian Chilvers  (Mugar N 6490 C5317 1998). Most of the entries are biographical including artists, collectors, dealers, museum administrators, patrons, and writers. Non-biographical entries cover artistic techniques, important exhibitions, major art journals, and institutions devoted to 20th-century art. Excluded are architecture, design, photography, and the applied arts.

Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, by Richard Kostelanetz, 2nd ed. Covers music, film, visual arts, dance, and theater. Entries consist primarily of people and movements and include bibliographies. Provides an index of names and a subject index.
Mugar NX 456 K67 2000


Glossary of Art, Architecture, and Design since 1945, by John A. Walker, 3rd ed. Short, alphabetically arranged entries with bibliographical citations referencing books, exhibition catalogues, and periodical articles. Separate index for terms within main entries. Some illustrations.
Mugar N 34 W34 1992

Grove Art Online contains three essays on Contemporary Art
ed. Jane Turner. Essays on twentieth-century art movements and artists. Bibliographies follow articles.  Separate image database.

Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Art, by Harold Osborne. Includes biographical articles, accounts of movements and associations, special terms, and historical development of the arts in particular countries or regions. Covers careers of artists through the mid-1970’s. More recent material may be found in the Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Mugar  N 6490 O94 1988

Oxford Dictionary of Modern Design

PhotoSpeak: A Guide to the Ideas, Movements, and Techniques of Photography, 1839 to the Present, by Gilles Mora. Essential information about techniques, styles and movements; role of photography in advertising, fashion, and photojournalism; and aesthetic concepts and critical terms. No biographical entries; principal photographers involved in styles and movements are listed under those entries. Entries follow the format who, when, where, and what.
Mugar TR 15 M63 1998



Action Art: A Bibliography of Artists’ Performance from Futurism to Fluxus and Beyond, by John Gray. Three main sections cover 1902-1952, general works and geographical studies, and biographical and critical studies of 115 artists and artists groups.
Mugar  NX600.P47 G73 1993

Art Information and the Internet: How to Find It, How to Use It, by Lois Swan Jones. Print and internet resources for the 19th and 20th centuries are listed on pp. 138-141.

Mugar Reference X N 59 J66 1999

Contemporary Art Trends, 1960-1980: A Guide to Sources, by Doris L. Bell. Evaluation of books and art museum catalogs presented as a bibliographic essay organized by trends from Air Art to Women’s Art. Separate section covers art exhibitions arranged by country. Includes a list of contemporary art journals. Individual artists are excluded.
Mugar  N6490.B365 1981   

New Deal Fine Arts Projects: A Bibliography, 1933-1992, by Martin Kalfatovic. Annotated chronological bibliography with author and subject indexes. Provides a project chronology, list of abbreviations and acronyms, and lengthy historical essay. Appendices on who’s who, exhibitions 1934-1990, competitions, WPA/FAP Community Art Centers, PWAP regions, and legislation for a permanent art project.
Mugar Reference X N 8837 K36 1994

Photographers of the Farm Security Administration: An Annotated Bibliography, 1930-1980, by Penelope Dixon. In two parts: individual photographer bibliographies and group publications. Includes books, periodical articles, masters’ theses, exhibition catalogues, reviews. For images, see America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWL, 1935-1945.
Mugar Reference XTR820.5.D58 1983


Biographical Sources

Art21: Artists (contemporary visual art and artists in the United States)

American National Biography, includes artists and architects. Also, theme collections.

Biographical Dictionary of Women Artists in Europe and America since 1850, by Penny Dunford. Biographical summaries include impact of personal lives on artistic lives, exhibitions and awards, locations of examples of works, and references. Includes some American artists not yet in other sources.
Mugar N 6757 1989

Biography and Genealogy Master Index.

Gale Biography in Context

This database contains full-text entries from a number of reference works published by Gale and St, James Press including Contemporary Artists (5th ed, 2001), Contemporary Designers (3rd ed, 1999), Contemporary Photographers (3rd ed, 1996), Contemporary Women Artists (1999), International Dictionary of Art and Artists (1990), and St. James Guide to Black Artists (1997). Please note that these later editions may have deleted some artists; please check this guide or the library catalog for earlier editions in print.

Black Photographers, 1840-1940: A Bio-Bibliography and Illustrated Bio-Bibliography of Black Photographers, 1940-1988, by Deborah Willis-Thomas. Entries include biographical data, public repositories of works, list of selected exhibitions, and bibliography. Both books provide large sections of representative photographs arranged alphabetically by photographer.
Mugar  TR 139 W55 1985, 1989

Contemporary American Women Sculptors, by Virginia Watson-Jones. Entries for over 1,000 artists include biographical data, exhibitions, public collections, awards, brief bibliography, and artist statement. One illustration per artist. Geographic and media indexes.
Mugar  NB 212 W37 1986

Contemporary Architects,
ed. Muriel Emanuel, 3rd ed. International. Arranged by architect (planner, engineer). Each entry includes biographical data; chronological list of works; publications by and about; brief description of style and noteworthy works; photographs of representative works. Some information and illustrations not repeated from the 1st (Folio NA 680 C625 1980) and the 2nd (Folio NA 680 C625 1987) editions.
Mugar Folio NA 680 C625 1994

Contemporary Artists, ed. Joanne Cerrito, 5th ed. International. Each of the 800 entries includes biographical data, a comprehensive list of individual exhibitions, a selection of up to ten important group exhibitions, a list of public collections, primary and secondary bibliographies, and a critical essay. Some statements by artists are included. Earlier editions should be checked for material and artists not included in this edition: 1st ed (Folio N 6490 C6567, 2nd ed (Folio N 6490 C6567 1983), 3rd ed (Folio N 6490 C6567 1989), 4th ed (Folio N 6490 C6567 1996).
Mugar Folio N 6490 C6567 2001

Contemporary Designers, ed. Colin Naylor, 2d ed. Includes graphics, interior design, costume and theatre. See also the 1st ed (NK 1390 C66 1984b).
Mugar Folio NK 1166 C66 1990

Contemporary Graphic Artists: A Biographical, Bibliographical, and Critical Guide to Current Illustrators, Animators, Cartoonists, Designers, and Other Graphic Artists, ed. Maurice Horn, 3 vols. Primary emphasis on American artists. Some foreign artists whose work is well known in the United States are included.
Mugar Reference X NC 45 C66 1986-1988

Contemporary Photographers, ed. Martin Evans, 3rd ed. Entries include exhibitions, collections, and publications by and about 750 photographers. See also the 1st ed (X TR 139 C66 1982) and the 2nd ed (X TR 139 C663 1988).
Mugar Reference X TR 139 C664 1995

Dictionary of Artists in Britain Since 1945, by David ckman. Painters, sculptors, draughtsmen, teachers, video, film, installation, and performance artists. Short entries include biographical information, exhibitions, collections, and commissions. No references. Separate select bibliography of general reference works, individual artists’ biographies, and mixed/group exhibition catalogues.
Mugar Reference X N 6768 B83 1998

Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists,

by Paul Cummings, 6th ed. Painters, sculptors, printmakers. Entries include biographical information, exhibitions, collections, commissions, references. Note: later editions omit some artists found in earlier editions (X N 6536 C8 1971, 1977, 1982, 1988).
Mugar Reference X N 6536 C8 1994

Dictionary of International Contemporary Artists: about 400 of the Most Internationally Recognized Contemporary Artists, ed. Giancarlo Politi. Compact handbook of entries providing data on artists’ careers: one person shows, group shows, and bibliography of periodical articles, books, and exhibition catalogues. Younger artists must have exhibited in a significant international exhibition, mainly the Documenta.
Mugar Reference X N 40 D53 1995

Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation.  Awards in Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Photography, Video, and Craft Media

Major Modern and Contemporary Visual Artists,

“artists and art,, the major modern & contemporary visual artists, each artist with portrait, brief biography, links to articles, essays and interviews; original art, limited edition art prints, photography and poster art, paintings, multimedia and artist’s books.” (Matthijs Leijenaar)

Modern Arts Criticism: A Biographical and Critical Guide to Painters, Sculptors, Photographers, and Architects from the Beginning of the Modern Era to the Present, ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau, annual, 1991–1994. Each volume covers about twelve artists. Entries include biographical information, artist commentary concerning his or her works or aesthetic ideas, introductory overviews, criticism of the artist’s career over time, artist portrait and reproduction of selected work(s), and a list of primary and secondary readings.
Mugar Reference X N 40 M63

North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Jules Heller. About 1,500 American, Canadian, and Mexican women visual artists born before 1960. Lengthy entries include biographical and artistic summary, and bibliography by and about the artist. 100 illustrations.
Mugar Reference X N 6503 N67 1995

St. James Guide to Black Artists, ed. Thomas Riggs. Published in association with the Schomrg Center for Research in Black Culture. Biographical and career information, critical essays, and publications by and about the artists profiled.
Mugar Reference X N 40 S78 1997

St. James Guide to Native North American Artists,
ed. Roger Matuz. All of the artists included here have worked in the twentieth century. Biographical and career information, critical essays, and publications by and about the artists profiled.
Mugar Reference X E 98 S8 1998

Twentieth-Century Artists on Art: An Index to Writings, Statements, and Interviews by Artists, Architects, and Designers, by Jack S. Robertson, 2nd ed. Over 27,500 citations to 14,400 artists in over 930 publications. Includes an alphabetical bibliography of sources arranged by subject, e.g., abstract, African art. Main index arranged by artist name. See also the lst ed (X NX 456 R59 1985).
Mugar Reference X NX 456 R59 1996

Women Artists and Designers in Europe Since 1800: An Annotated Bibliography,
by Penny McCracken, 2 vols. Three main sections: general, specialist media, and individual practitioners.
Mugar Reference X Z 7963 A75 M33 1998

Women Artists of Color: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas,
ed. Phoebe Farris. Native American, Latin American, African American, and Asian Pacific American women artists are included. Biographical data, selected exhibitions, publications, artist statement, and a biographical essay make up each entry.
Mugar Reference X N 8354 W656 1999

World Artists: 1950-1980 and1980-1990, by Claude Marks. 434 lengthy and comprehensive entries include information on the lives and works of the artists, portraits, exhibitions, major collections, and references to publications by and about the artists.
Mugar Reference X N 6489 M37 1984 and X N 6489 W67 1991

World Cultural Leaders of the Twentieth Century,
by Jennifer Durham, two vols. For Americans, see American Cultural Leaders from the Colonial Period tothe Present ( Mugar Reference X NX 503 A49 1993). 400 entries with short bibliographies. Includes a list of leaders by occupation and a general index.
Mugar Reference X NX 456 D885 2000


Biennials (Biennales)

Biennial Foundation

“Biennial Foundation is an independent non-profit arts organization that was founded in 2009 to create a spirit of solidarity and equality among contemporary art biennials worldwide, and to facilitate a diversity of platforms for the exchange of information and expertise.”  Biennial Map and A-Z list.

Venice Biennale 2013 on the Web

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library. “This collection of blogs, social media sites, video, and organizational websites documents the international art exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2013.”

2013 Biennial Awards

Salon to Biennial: 1863-1959 (Vol. 1) and Biennials and Beyond: 1962-2002 (Vol. 2)–Exhibitions that made art history.  Bruce Altshuler, ed., 2008-2013.
Mugar Memorial Library Stacks N6447 .S17 2008

“This is the most comprehensive reference book on contemporary art group exhibitions. Coverage includes the development of modern art, shown through all of the most influential group exhibitions in history…Volume 1 opens with the revolutionary first Salon des Refusés in Paris of 1863 and concludes with the multi-locational international exhibition ‘The New American Painting’, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1958-59.” Volume 2: Dylaby, Amsterdam, 1962 — New Realists, New York, 1962 — Primary Structures, New York, 1966 — Arte Povera + Azioni povere, Amalfi, 1968 — January 5-31, 1969, New York, 1969 — When Attitudes Become Form, Bern, 1969 — 557,087, Seattle, 1969 — Information, New York, 1970 — Sonsbeek 71, The Netherlands, 1971 — Documenta 5, Kassel, 1972 — The Bulldozer Exhibition, Moscow, 1974 — The Times Square Show, New York, 1980 — A New Spirit in Painting, London, 1981 — Les Immatériaux, Paris, 1985 — Chambres d’ Amis, Ghent, 1986 — Second Havana Biennial, 1986 — Freeze, London, 1988 — China/Avant-garde, Beijing, 1989 — Magiciens de la Terre, Paris, 1989 — Places with a Past, Charleston, 1991 — Whitney Biennial, New York, 1993 — Traffic, Bordeaux, 1996 — Citis on the Move, Vienna, 1997 — 24th São Paulo Biennial, 1998 — Documenta 11, Kassel, 2002.   “This work includes a wealth of rare documentary material and ephemera, such as installation photographs, publications and reviews of the period. This is an exceptional sourcebook for anyone interested in the history of twentieth-century art, exhibition design or curatorial practice.” Publisher.
Publisher: London ; New York, N.Y. : Phaidon


Exhibition Records

Contemporary Artists Index.  Cleveland Institute of Art.  Over 31,000 artists, artists groups, photographers, craftspeople, designers and design firms whose work appears in over 1,800 group exhibition catalogs as well as in the video periodical, Art Today, and View, a periodical specializing in artist interviews. Clicking on the Artist, shows all exhibition catalogs the artist appears in. Clicking on the Catalog, shows all the artists in that catalog.  The exhibition catalog call numbers are those of the Index host, the Gund Library of the Cleveland Institute of Art.  To see if Mugar Library has a catalog, type its title in the Boston University Libraries Search box.  If the Library does not have the catalog, you may borrow it from a Boston Library Consortium Library or via Interlibrary Loan.

Contemporary Latin American Artists: Exhibitions at the Organization of American States 1965-1985, ed. Annick Sanjurjo. 380 catalogues arranged in chronological order. The exhibitions, representing about 1,000 artists, were held at the Museum of Modern Art of Latin America of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. The catalogues include biographical and critical notes and a list of the works exhibited.
Mugar Reference X N 6502.5 C66 1993

International Directory of Exhibiting Artists. Volume 1: Painters, Printmakers, Draughtsmen; Volume 2: Sculptors, Ceramicists, Photographers, Textile Artists, Jewellers, Glass Artists, Metalsmiths, Conceptual Artists, Video Artists, Assemblage Artists, Performance Artists, ed. Veronica Babington Smith. Arranged by artist. Brief entries of biographical data and names and dates of exhibitions (all held in 1981 and 1982). Separate index of exhibiting institutions.
Mugar Reference X N 6490 D49 1983

Modern Art Exhibitions 1900-1916: Selected Catalogue Documentation, by Donald E. Gordon. Vol. 1 includes three essays on the early modern period, a list of catalogues consulted, illustrations, and an index of artists. Vol. 2 consists of exhibition entries arranged chronologically and an index of cities and exhibiting groups.
Mugar Reference X N 6490 G62 1974

Record of the Carnegie Institute’s International Exhibitions 1896-1996, ed. Peter Falk. Arranged alphabetically by artist followed by a list of exhibited paintings in chronological order. No biographical data. International Encounters: The Carnegie International and Contemporary Art, 1896-1996, by Vicky A. Clark serves as an introduction to this index and provides an historical survey of the exhibitions (X N 6487 P57 C373 1996).
Mugar Reference X N 6487 P57 C377 1998

Whitney Museum of American Art. Annual and Biennial Exhibition Record, 1918-1989, by Peter Falk. Arranged by artist. Place and last name index. See American century: Art & Culture, 1900-1950, by Barbara Haskell (Mugar Library N6512 .H355 1999).
Mugar Reference X N 6512 A62 1991


Black Artists in America: An Index to Reproductions, comp. Dennis Thomison. From the colonial period to the present. Arranged by artist. Books, periodicals, and exhibition catalogs through 1990. Color illustrations noted.
Mugar Reference X N 6538 N5 T46 1991

Contemporary Art and Artists: An Index to Reproductions, by Pamela Parry. Excludes architecture. References to books published between 1940 and the mid-1970’s. Color illustrations noted.
Mugar Reference X N 6490 P3234

For additional sources of reproductions, see the Research Guide, Images, Illustrations, Reproductions and the Web page, Finding Images on the Web: Arts.


Boston University Programs

Boston University American and New England Studies Program

Faculty, program, courses, and resources.

Boston University History of Art and Architecture Department

Faculty, courses, programs, resources, grants, Art Gallery, department news, and events.

Cumulus Image Database.


Boston University School of Visual Arts

Faculty; programs: studio training, drawing, painting, sculpture, graphics, design, and art education; resources, and news and events.



1. Directories

Network for Contemporary Art. Italian site with some English entries. News, exhibitions, articles.

WAAND (Women Artists Archives National Directory)

Rutgers University. Forthcoming end of 2005. “… web directory to U.S. archival collections holding primary source materials by and about women visual artists active in the U.S. since 1945″

World Wide Arts Resources

World Wide Arts Resources Corp. Gateway and search engine to arts information and culture on the Web.

2. Metasites

Art History Resources on the Web: Contemporary Art

Chris Witcombe, Professor of Art History, Sweet Briar College, VA.

Art History Resources on the Web: 20th-Century Art

Chris Witcombe, Professor of Art History, Sweet Briar College, VA. Links grouped into early and later 20th-century art. Provides access to twentieth-century art through metasites such as The WebMuseum, Carol Gerten’s Fine Art, etc., as well as direct site links.

Art on the Web:Twentieth Century

Jeffery Howe, Boston College. Useful lists of links arranged by movements and artists.

Voice of the Shuttle: Art (Modern and Contemporary)
Alan Liu, University of California, Santa Barbara. Multidisciplinary, comprehensive site with pages for Modern and Contemporary artists and works.

3. Special Sites



“searchable database of digital images…  Users can search, view, download and organize images.”

Artsy–Discover Fine Art

“an online platform for discovering, discussing, and collecting art…collection comprises over 30,000 artworks by over 6,000 artists from leading galleries, museums, private collections, foundations, and artists’ estates…”

DAM: Digital Art Museum

exhibits the work of leading Artists in this field since 1956

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston

architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the ICA, conceiving the building both “from the sky down,” as a contemplative space for experiencing contemporary art, and “from the ground up,”


Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Information about the museum’s history, exhibitions, and collections.

MoMA: The Museum of Modern Art

Information about the collection and exhibits. Links to research resources on the Web.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Contemporary Art Museums (international list).  Wikipedia.



Ruth Thomas


Mugar Memorial Library