Art History

Explore Your Topic

Explore your topic using Omni. Omni makes it possible to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Your search will include books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, maps, and more. 

However,  Omni doesn't search everything that the library owns or subscribes to so you will still need to search other resources to find everything that you need. 

When to use Omni

  • When starting research on a topic
  • If you are not sure which databases to use

Reference and Introductory Materials:

Use these to get an overview of your topic or to find definitions of key terms and concepts:



The following are some basic search tips that can be used in Omni and most academic databases when searching in Art History. Unlike in Google and in other search engines, you will not get satisfactory results if you type an entire sentence, such as "Jean-Paul Riopelle art pieces". You need to first search for the particular artist and/or piece of art and then move to a larger search by looking at the particular art movement, the time-period, the geography, etc.

Step 1: Identify keywords

  • Start by searching for your artist or piece of art in Oxford Art Online. If you can't find the artist or piece of art, look for the art movement, time-period, etc.
  • Find synonyms for your keywords as well as their equivalent in different languages. Certain art pieces can be found in multiple languages.

Resources to find synonyms

  • Termium Plus: One of the largest terminology and linguistic data banks in the world, gives you access to millions of terms in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. You can find terms, abbreviations, definitions and usage examples in a wide range of specialized fields.
  • Thesaurus: World’s largest and most trusted free online thesaurus brought to you by
  • GraphWords: Online thesaurus that helps users find the meanings of words and show connections among associated words.
  • Visuwords: A modern dictionary for a modern world. Visuwords represents language visually.

Step 2: Use special characters & boolean operators

Special characters (asterisk*, quotation marks) and boolean operators (AND, OR) to limit or expand your search. Boolean operators should be capitalized when used in searching databases. 

  • Use AND to combine and limit your results (Riopelle AND Automatistes)
  • Use OR when using synonyms and want to expand your results (ie. Riopelle OR Automatistes)
  • Use asterisk* to search for all variations of the word (ie. surrealis*)
  • Use the quotation marks to search for phrases (ie. "jean-paul riopelle")

Step 3: Searching

  • Start your search using the library's Omni Search Tool. Here is some detailed help on using Omni.
  • Explore the Art History databases to search for your artist or piece of art. Consider using the Advanced Search function when available.  This allows you to better structure your search with the boolean operators. Once you've done your search, use the filters to refine your search.

Databases for Journal Articles

Artbibliographies Modern
Materials contained within Artbibliographies include: journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, PhD dissertations, and exhibition reviews. Premier source of information on modern and contemporary arts dating from the late 19th century onwards, and including photography.

Art Full Text
Coverage includes art design, folk art, industrial design, interior design, museum management, pottery, textiles, and motion pictures, television, and video.

Art & Architecture Complete
Art & Architecture Complete provides cover-to-cover indexing and abstracts for academic journals, magazines, trade publications and books. In addition, the database provides full-text coverage of many of the journals and books and includes a large image collection.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar allows you to search broadly in the academic literature.  Google Scholar contains articles, theses, books, and abstracts from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.

Art Index Retrospective
Provides citations for Art Index from 1929-1984. Covers English-language periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins, as well as periodicals published in other European languages.

International Bibliography of Art
Coverage includes European art from late antiquity to the present; American art from the colonial era to the present; global art since 1945; Visual arts in all media; decorative and applied arts; museum studies and conservation; archaeology and classical studies; antiques and architectural history; and related fields.

Design and Applied Arts Index
An index of articles on design and craftworks. Indexes over 500 core design and craft journals.  Also includes information on over 50,000 designers, craftspeople, studios, workshops and commercial firms.

The database includes both BHA (covering 1990-2007) and the International Bibliography of Art (IBA), covering the years 2008 and part of 2009.

Provides access to the complete archives of major journals in a variety of subjects.

Canadian Focus Databases

CBCA Complete
This is a multidisciplinary database, but also contains Arts journals. A good place to check if you're looking for articles and exhibition reviews of Canadian artists.

Contains citations to Canadian English and French language journals. Documents include essays, articles, short stories, and book reviews. Covers 1,200 English and French language journals published in, or providing, significant coverage of Canada.  Mostly fulltext.


Kanopy Film Streaming

Architecture Films

Photography Films

Visual Art Films

National Film Board

Image Find Guide
This guide explores different types of image sources, explains how to search more effectively for visual materials, provides resources for Creative Commons and public domain images, offers information on copyright and fair dealing, and provides examples of image citations by style.

A digital library of art images. Includes approximately 500,000 images covering art, architecture and archeology.  ARTstor's software tools support a wide range of pedagogical and research uses including: viewing and analyzing images through features such as zooming and panning, saving groups of images online for personal or shared uses, and creating and delivering presentations both online and offline.

The Archivision Library
Archivision Digital Research Library is a collection of many thousands of high quality images. It spans the globe and all time periods, and is intended to be a diverse, rich and extensive image resource for students and faculty in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, archaeology, art and art history.

Index of Christian Art
Based on The index of Christian art, a thematic and iconographic index of early Christian and medieval art objects to 1400. The database consists of bibliographic records with links to images that have been added since 1991 as well as about 1/3 of the old paper files. Only those images labelled "Public Images" may be viewed. You will not be able to view "Restricted Images".

Art and Architecture Complete
This database has a large image collection. Use the search facets to limit your search to images.

Google Arts and Culture
Contains high resolution artwork and collections from around the world. Also includes tours of institutions and cultural locations. 

Oxford Art Online
The collective resource of Grove Art Online and other Oxford databases with links to images from the articles.

Smithsonian Collections Search Center: Digital Collections
Over 568,000 images, video and audio available from across the Smithsonian's vast collections.

World Digital Library
Includes maps, films, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.

Digital Bodleian Library
Contains archival images, maps, rare books, music collections.

Writing Resources

A Short Guide to Writing About Art

Writing About Art

Writing About Visual Art

Citiation Guides

The Chicago Manual of Style

Carleton Chicago Style Citation webpage

Purdue OWL - Chicago Manual of Style Tip Page

Citing Images using Chicago Style

Guide to Writing a Research Paper

Bibliographic and Citation Management Tools

The library provides support for Mendely, Zotero, and Endnote Basic. Check out the citation management page for details, downloads, and workshops.

Content last updated: August 20, 2020