Working definition of the visual arts
The term art is derived from the Latin word ars, which means skill or ability. At the time of the Italian Renaissance, the craft guilds were known as “arti” and the word “arte” denoted craftsmanship, skill, mastery of form, or inventiveness. The phrase “visual arts” serves to differentiate a group of arts that are generally nonverbal in character and that communicate by means of symbols and the juxtaposition of formal elements. Michael Greenhalgh and Paul Duro suggest a definition of visual arts: “the practice of shaping material, such as wood or stone, or applying pigment to a flat or other surface, with the intention of representing an idea, experience, or emotion.” (Kenneth McLeish, ed., Key Ideas in Human Thought (New York: Facts on File, 1993), pp. 47-49)
The representation is communicated by the creation of emotional moods and through expansion of the range of the aesthetic experience. “Beauty,” as such, is not an integral part of art, but more a matter of subjective judgement. The difficulty here is that aesthetics deals with individual taste – a subjective issue from the outset. Nevertheless, certain concepts of balance, harmony, and contrast have become a part of our way of thinking about art as a result of Greek speculation about the nature of beauty.
Style normally refers to the whole body of work produced at a given time in history; however, there may be regional and national styles as well as one basic style for a period. In modern times, attention has even been given to the “styles” of individual artists. Style, like taste, is a subjective phenomenon.
Iconography is the use of symbols by artists to express universal ideas; the Gothic style of architecture, for example, symbolized humanity’s reaching out toward God. On a more recent note, designers of graphical software have used “icons” to denote certain functions and messages; an example is the use of a timepiece (clock, hourglass, or wristwatch) to communicate that the user should wait and that processing is taking place.
Major divisions of the field
The visual arts may be conveniently divided into four main groups: 1) pictorial arts, 2) plastic arts, 3) building arts, and 4) minor arts.
The pictorial arts employ flat, two-dimensional surfaces. The term is most often applied to painting, but it can also include drawing, graphic arts, photography (including moving pictures and video), and mosaics. Painting may be done with a variety of materials: oil, tempera, water color or other media. Drawing is done most often with pencil, pen and ink, wash, crayon, pastel, or charcoal.
The graphic arts are produced by the printing process, with three basic methods employed. Intaglio, in which the design is hollowed out of a flat surface and the ink is gathered in the hollows for transmission to the paper, is exemplified by etching or engraving. Cameo, or relief, in which the design is on a raised surface (as in woodcut, mezzotint, aquatint, or drypoint) and only the raised surface is inked, is the second method. Last is the planographic method, in which a completely flat surface is used and the design is created by using substances that will either attract or repel ink. Lithography is the term often used for this method because the flat surface was frequently made of stone.
The pictorial arts employ one or more of three basic forms: murals, panels, or pages. Murals involve pictures directly applied to walls of buildings or painted on canvases and permanently attached to the walls. Panels are generally painted on wood or canvas; these are sometimes known as easel paintings. Pages may be illuminated manuscripts, or, more often, produced as a result of the printing process. The basic problems of the pictorial artists, regardless of the form used, include surface, design, movement, space, and form. These are commonly solved by the use of line, color, values (light and dark), and perspective.
In the plastic arts, of which sculpture is the most obvious example, ideas are expressed by means of three-dimensional objects. This type of art is perhaps the oldest form, predating even cave painting. The materials used include stone, metal, wood, plaster, clay, or synthetics (such as plastic). Tools of the artist may include chisels, mallets, natural and chemical abstracts, and punches. The techniques used are determined primarily by the materials and tools available, and include carving, casting, modeling, or welding. The finished product may be free standing or bas-relief (part of a wall or planar surface). In sculpture, the human figure has traditionally provided the most common subject matter, although the twentieth century has seen increased use of abstraction.
In the building arts (architecture), spaces are enclosed in such a way as to meet certain practical needs (as in schools, homes, offices, or factories) and to make some kind of symbolic statement of basic values. These values may be utilitarian and the symbolic statement very pedestrian, or they may be related to the highest aspirations of the human spirit. Factories and gasoline stations are frequently examples of the former, while Gothic cathedrals are often cited as examples of the latter. Architects design buildings of three basic types: trabeated, in which a lintel is supported by two posts; arcuated, in which arches support rounded vaults and domes; and cantilevered, in which only one post is required to support a lintel or beam. The materials used in construction will determine the type of design used. Wood is useful for trabeated construction, but brick and stone can be better adapted to the requirements of arcuated building. Structural steel and reinforced concrete make possible large scale cantilevered construction.
The minor arts are a special group, often classified on the basis of the materials used: ceramics, glass, metals, textiles, ivory, precious gems, wood, reeds, synthetics, and the like. Ordinarily, they follow the same styles as the major art forms. The end products may be useful everyday objects such as coins, clothing, baskets, utensils, and furniture, or they may be ornamental items such as jewelry, stained glass, and many items of interior decoration. The minor arts are often referred to as “crafts,” “decorative arts,” or “collectibles,” or some combination of these terms.
The topic of technology must be addressed as part of any discussion of the visual arts. The application of science to problem solving in all four divisions of the arts is obvious. In the discussion of the major divisions of the field, we have addressed aspects of the more traditional technologies: materials and tools. Just as the areas of sculpture and architecture have changed as new tools and materials have evolved, so too do all the visual arts change. Two good examples of where technology and art are melded are photography and computer art. The former has been around for over 100 years, while the latter is a creation of recent decades. Nonetheless, both depend heavily on technology – so much so, in fact, that it is hard to distinguish between the technology and the art, except in the final product.
More information on the divisions of the visual arts can be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica Online article “Art” at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/630806/art (accessed November 12, 2012). This and the related articles are intended for the general reader, although they are more advanced treatments than one finds in many other encyclopedias. For briefer articles and shorter histories of various divisions of the arts, see McLeish’s Key Ideas in Human Thought (Facts on File, 1993). Entries on “Art(s), Visual” (pp. 47-49) and on Christian art (pp. 119-20), computer art (p. 149), architecture (pp. 44-45), and aesthetics (pp. 13-14) provide both introductions to the topics and suggestions for further reading. The Encyclopedia of World Art (Publishers Guild, 1959-1988) contains signed articles by experts on the various topics, and it should be consulted by the student or librarian looking for more technical, detailed encyclopedic coverage of art, its subfields, and related subjects. Finally, for histories of the visual arts, a recommended source is the Encyclopedia of Visual Art (Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation, 1989). A ten-volume set, the Encyclopedia covers the area fully, includes illustrations as well as text, and points the user to other material. An overview of the field of art history is found in Research Guide to the History of Western Art, by W. Eugene Kleinbauer and Thomas P. Slavens (American Library Association, 1982). A highly regarded guide to research methods is the recently revised Art Research Methods and Resources: A Guide to Finding Art Information, by Lois S. Jones (3d ed., Kendall/Hunt, 1990). Besides providing background material on different aspects of visual arts, both guides are also intended to help the reader find published information on the arts. The reader should access these titles in libraries because unfortunately they are now out-of-print.
Helpful resources for students, librarians, and general readers
Unlike philosophy and religion, where conventional techniques of librarianship and library research will cover most situations, the visual arts pose several distinct problems. As a result, art, or visual art, librarianship has emerged as a specialized branch of the field. The chapter “Fine Arts” in Lester Asheim’s now-classic text, The Humanities and the Library (pp. 100-150), suggests some basic tenants that still hold. First, different types of art libraries serve differing purposes, although the subject matter in them may be similar. Museum, art school, and departmental public and university libraries serve diverse, though sometime overlapping, clienteles, and hence the institutions will have varying policies and practices in terms of management, collection development, user education, public services, and organizations. Not only librarians, but also users of the libraries will benefit from awareness of the differences and similarities.
An article on art libraries appeared in each annual ALA Yearbook of Library and Information Services (American Library Association, 1975-1995), and each one- or two-page entry summarized the year’s developments in the field. An old, but still helpful encyclopedic treatment of art libraries and special collections is Wolfgang Freitag’s article in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (v. 1, pp. 571-621). Philip Pacey’s A Reader in Art Librarianship (Saur, 1985) is a standard source.
An important consideration is the different types of materials found in an art library collection. In “How to Research a Work of Art,” in Guide to Basic Information Sources in the Visual Arts (ABC-Clio, 1978; repr. 1980). Gerd Muehsam outlined several distinctive types of art catalog publications. The catalogue raisonné is defined as
a systematic, descriptive, and critical listing or catalog of all known, or documented, authentic works in one medium. Each entry aims at providing all ascertainable data on the work in question: (1) title, date, and signature, if any, as well as size and medium; (2) present location or owner or provenance (previously recorded owners and history of the work); (3) description, comments, analysis, or literary documentation; (4) bibliographical references to books and periodicals; (5) listings of exhibitions and reproductions. Usually there is also an illustration. The entries are numbered consecutively. These catalog numbers are often referred to in scholarly literature about the artist and permanently identify a particular work.(Gerd Muehsam, Guide to Information Sources in the Visual Arts (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 1978) p. 12)
The oeuvre catalog is similar but may omit documentation and provenance. Museum catalogs are defined as catalogs of a museum’s permanent collection; exhibition catalogs, on the other hand, include works from many museums or owner’s private collections that are brought together for a particular exhibition. Corpus catalogs attempt to do for an entire category of art what the catalogue raisonné does for an individual artist. Because of their scope, these often depend on international collaboration.
Catalogs are first-rate sources of art information, but the researcher must understand the difficulties of bibliographic control prior to publication of the ongoing Worldwide Art Catalogue Bulletin (1963/1964- ). The subject of catalog collecting is addressed in B. Houghton and G. Varley, “A Local Approach to National Collecting: A UK Feasibility Study for the Cooperative Collection of Exhibition Catalogues,” Art Libraries Journal 14 (1989): 32-36, also addresses this special research resource. The chapter by Susan Wyngaard, “Fine Arts,” in the second edition of Humanities and the Library, edited by Nena Couch and Nancy Allen (American Library Association, 1993), covers exhibition and sales catalogs in considerable depth. Artists’ books and ephemera are also discussed in the same chapter. Finally, another approach to the use of exhibition catalogs is presented in Olivia Fitzpatrick, “Art Exhibition Catalogues: A Resource for Art Documentation,” An Leabharlaan 12 (1996): 117-20.
Another special type of document for the art library is the so-called art book. Elizabeth Esteve-Coll discusses the medium in her provocative keynote paper, presented at the European Conference of the IFLA Art Libraries Section and published as “The Art Book: The Idea and the Reality,” Art Libraries Journal 17 (1992): 4-6. Nikos Stangos’ article addresses the issues in art book publishing in the same issue (“Art Book Publishing: Minority Issue, Popular Entertainment, or Kudos?,” pp. 31-33).
Planning and developing visual art collections are covered from a management orientation in Nancy Shelby Schuller’s Management for Visual Resource Collections (2d ed., Libraries Unlimited, 1990).
For the librarian, there are many sources in the journal literature on selecting and acquiring materials. The journals Art Documentation and Art Libraries Journal are the most specific to art library collection development, but Library Journal also covers art books on a regular basis. AB Bookman’s Weekly is also a good resource.
An excellent annual source is “Annual Bibliography of Art Librarianship,” in Art Libraries Journal; it covers all aspects of practice, including collection development.
Special materials are discussed in the following articles. Sales at auction sources are covered in C. H. Backlund, “The Cutting Edge: New Auction Sources and Computer Projects,” Art Documentation 9 (Winter 1990): 175-78; special problems with Eastern European materials are discussed in E. Kasinec and R. H. Davis, “Materials for the Study of Russian/Soviet Art and Architecture: Problems of Selection, Acquisition, and Collection Development for Research Libraries,” Art Documentation 10 (Spring 1991): 19-22; Native American art is discussed in “Balance and Harmony: Books on American Indian Art,” by D. Seaman (Booklist 90 [October 1, 1993]: 238-39); and other special items are covered in M. R. Hughston’s “Preserving the Ephemeral: New Access to Artists Files, Vertical Files, and Scrapbooks” (Art Documentation 9 [Winter 1990]: 179-81.) Archives are the subjects of Serena Kelly’s “Collecting Archives: Changes and Consequences” Art Libraries Journal 21 (1996): 30-34. Daniel Lombardo’s “Focus on Art Instruction Books,” Library Journal 116 (August 1991): 65-68, adds to the librarian’s knowledge in the area of collection development. Carla Conrad Freeman and Barbara Stevenson, eds., provide The Visual Resources Directory: Art Slide and Photograph Collections in the US and Canada (Libraries Unlimited, 1995). The topic is also addressed in various Occasional Papers issued by ARLIS/NA; see, for example “Current Issues in Fine Arts Collection Development: Occasional Paper #3.” See also “Slide Collection Management in Libraries and Information Units,” by Elizabeth O’Donnell and Maryly Snow (Visual Resources 13 : 199-203).
Other aspects of art libraries and librarianship that are especially important include the special security problems presented by art materials, the development of art librarian and information specialists, and art library facilities. The first of these areas is discussed in Elizabeth H. Smith and Lydia P. Olszak, “Treatment of Mutilated Art Books: A Survey of Academic ARL Institutions,” Library Resources and Technical Services 41 (January 1997): 7-16. The “Profile of Fine Arts Librarianship,” in the chapter by Wyngaard referenced above, provides advice regarding qualifications and training for the field. Other articles on the visual arts library profession include Carla Conrad Freeman, “Visualizing Art: An Overview of the Visual Resources Profession in the U.S.,” Art Documentation 16 (Fall 1997): 31-34; Clive Phillpot, “The Social Role of the Art Library,” Art Documentation (Fall 1997): 25-26; and “What Does It Mean to Be a ‘Professional’ Art Librarian,” by Max Podstolski (Art Libraries Journal 21 : 4-8). Two additional works that address staffing of art libraries are “Staffing Standards for Art Libraries and Visual Resources Collections,” Art Documentation 14 (Winter 1995): 27-32, and “Criteria for the Hiring and Retention of Visual Resources Professionals,” in the same issue of Art Documentation (pp. 35-37).
Regarding facilities, Betty Jo Irvine edited Facilities Standards for Art Libraries and Visual Resources Collections, published by Libraries Unlimited (1991) for ARLIS, the Art Libraries Society of North America. The latter includes an excellent bibliography on the subject of art and architecture library facilities (pp. 105-8). “Space Planning for the Art Library” was also the topic of ARLIS/NA Occasional Paper no. 9, published by the Society in 1991.
In the technical areas of librarianship, two older titles dealing with the organization of materials deserve mention. The first is Carolyn Frost’s Media Access and Organization: A Cataloging and Reference Sources Guide for Nonbook Materials (Libraries Unlimited, 1989). The second is Nonprint Cataloging for Multimedia Collections, by JoAnn V. Rogers and Jerry D. Saye (2d ed., Libraries Unlimited, 1987).
Cooperative cataloging is addressed in “The Research Libraries Group: New Initiatives to Improve Access to Art and Architecture Information,” INSPEL 32 (1998): 8-22.
Linda McRae and Lynda S. White edited the ArtMARC Sourcebook : Cataloging Art, Architecture and Their Visual Images (ALA, 1998), and Janet Stanley also addresses the organization of art materials in “Reference Librarian As Cataloger: Analytical Indexing As Front-End Reference,” Art Documentation 14 (Winter 1995): 7-9.
Use and users of art information
Users of visual arts information can be categorized as art professionals (art historians, artists, art educators, critics, curators, and architects); students of the visual arts who are enrolled in art schools, colleges and universities, and secondary schools; and the interested public (museum goers, collectors, and others for whom art is a hobby or avocation). The article “Art Libraries and Collections,” in the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, cited above, covers the myriad needs of visual art information users.
Interest in use and users of art materials is not a new phenomenon: An early article on use of art materials was “The Use of Art Books,” by Katherine Patten (Bulletin of the American Library Association 1 [July 1907]: 183). More recent works include Philip Pacey’s enduring contribution, “How Art Students Use Libraries—If They Do,” Art Libraries Journal 7 (Spring 1982): 33-38, and Deidre Corcoran Stam’s “How Art Historians Look for Information,” Art Documentation 3 (Winter 1984): 117-19 (reprinted in 16 [Fall 1997]: 27-30). Stam’s contributions in this area have continued with “Tracking Art Historians: Information Needs and Information Seeking Behavior,” Art Libraries Journal 14 (Fall 1989): 13-16. The latter article describes three prevalent methods for generating data on information needs: bibliometric tracking, autobiographical methods or participant observation, and user studies. Stam more recently presented “Artists and Art Libraries,” Art Libraries Journal 20 (1995): 21-24.
Several chapters in Kusnerz’s The Architecture Library of the Future address user needs. See especially Kurt Brandle, “What Do Researches Want from the Architecture Library?” (pp. 21-26) and Hemalata Dandekar, “What Do Planners Want? What Do Planners Need?” (pp. 27-34).
The Getty Art History Information Project investigated information-seeking practices of art historians and published several reports between 1988 and the mid-1980s. See Chapter 1 of this guide for citations to articles based on the reports.
J. Cullars has investigated citation practices in the arts and has published “Citation Characteristics of Monographs in the Fine Arts,” Library Quarterly 62 (July 1992): 325-42. Cullars is referenced elsewhere in this volume for other citation studies in the humanities. A more recent study on users is Susie Cobbledick’s “The Information-Seeking-Seeking Behavior of Artists: Exploratory Interviews,” The Library Quarterly 66 (October 1996): 343-72.
Despite the increase in use and user studies over the past decade, more information is needed, especially about users other than art historians and users of other than traditional print materials. The next decade may see expansion of our present definition of use and user studies, and the use of electronic resources will likely be the focus of such studies.
Computers in the visual arts
The literature of computer applications in the visual arts is large and continues to expand rapidly. The computer is used in a wide variety of ways, from computer assisted design in architecture to computer graphics and computerized information retrieval in museums and libraries. As with all disciplines in the humanities, the visual arts area has been changed by the advent of the World Wide Web. A perfect medium for visual arts information, especially graphical in nature, the Web opens the door to new and expanded research possibilities for the future visual arts scholar.
The historical development of computer applications in art can be traced by referring to several review sources. The Annual Review of Information Science and Technology is a good starting point. “Information Systems and Services in the Humanities,” by Joseph Raben and Sarah K. Burton, covers arts information systems through 1980 (ASIS, 1981, v. 16, pp. 254-56), and the review entitled “Visual Arts Resources and Computers,” by Karen Markey, (ASIS, 1984, v. 19, pp. 271-309) is specifically directed at the visual arts and brings the reader up to the middle of the 1980s. Jasia Rerichardt’s The Computer In Art (Van Norstand, 1971) is of historical interest.
R. Skinner’s “Networking from the Ground Up: Implementing Macintosh Networks in a Newly Constructed Arts Library,” in Library LANs, describes a system at Southern Methodist University (Mecker, 1992, pp. 50-62).
Information technology and its applications in architecture libraries are discussed in Part 2, “Information Resources in the Architecture Library,” in Kusnerz’s The Architecture Library of the Future, referenced above.
“Bringing Art Museum Images to the Classroom and Desktop,” in RLG News 46 (Spring 1998): 3-6, is just one article on accessing images in the arts.
The number of online and CD-ROM resources in the visual arts continues to grow, but, as noted above, the literature in this areas has recently focused on Internet resources and access rather than on the “how to search” articles that were typical some years ago.
Among the most important bibliographic databases is Art Literature International (International Repertory of the Literature of Art), which includes all entries in the print RILA database since 1975. Art Literature International covers all aspects of Western art from late antiquity to the present. RILA’s contents were merged with that of Repertoire d’Art et d’Archeologie to form the newly titled Bibliography of the History of Art (J. Paul Getty Trust, 1991-- ). The Repertoire d’Art et d’Archeologie was produced from 1910 through 1990 in Paris by the Centre de Documentation Sciences Humaines.
ARTbibliographies Modern (entry 327), another online bibliographic file, covers nineteenth- and twentieth-century art and design, as well as nineteenth-century themes begun in the eighteenth century. Updated semiannually, the database covers the literature from 1974 on. It is produced by ABC-Clio.
Two online files in architecture are available on DIALOG Information Services: Architecture Database and the Avery Architecture Index. The former is provided by the British Architectural Library at the Royal Institute of British Architects and comprises records from the Architectural Periodicals Index (from 1978 on) and the Architectural Book Catalog (1984 to the present). The Avery Architecture Index is produced at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library of Columbia University. It is part of the Getty Art History Information Program, and utilizes terms from the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, also sponsored by the Getty. All areas of architecture, including technical aspects, are included in the database, which covers from 1979 to the present.
Sales catalogs are indexed in the SCIPIO (Sales Catalog Index Project Input Online), a tool that leads the user to libraries holding particular sales catalogs. Like the Avery Index, this tool has been sponsored by the Getty Art Information Project.
H. W. Wilson’s Art Index (available in print, online, and on CD-ROM) continues to be one of the most used databases in fine arts. Available in machine readable form from 1984, Art Index serves as a good starting point for searching art periodicals and museum publications. Although it does include foreign-language materials, its scope and coverage will seem limited to the most scholarly art historian because of the omission of valuable art history materials such as books, theses, and dissertations.
There are many articles that will lead the reader to additional online, CD-ROM, and Internet resources in the visual arts.
The growth in the field of visual arts is rapid even when compared to the explosive growth of the Internet as a whole. Not only do we have text and resource-finding tools available, but a variety of image files are now accessible through the Internet.
Print materials to help the reader access Internet resources abound in the literature, so only a few are cited here. The following should get the reader started:
- Jeanne M. Brown, “Architecture Reference Sites on the Internet,” Reference Librarian 57 (1997): 147-51.
- Barbara Q. Prior, “Art and Architecture Databases on the Internet,” Reference Services Review 24 (Fall 1996): 81-96.
- Jennifer Trant, “Images on the Internet: Issues and Opportunities,” ACLS Newsletter 4 (February 1997): 6-8.
- J. Griffin, “Fine Art on Multimedia CD-ROM and the Web,” Computers in Libraries 17 (April 1997): 63-67.
- Martin Kalfatovic, “Internet Resources in the Visual Arts,” College and Research Libraries News 57 (May 1996): 289-93.
- Lois Swan Jones, Art Information on the Internet: How to Find It, How to Use It (Oryx Press, 1998).
Finally, for the art librarian, “Content Guidelines for Art Museum Library Web Pages,” Art Documentation 16 (Fall 1997): 44-50, by Polly Trump, is an excellent feature with a bibliography.
Major art organizations and special collections in visual arts
At the international level, much of the impetus for the collection and dissemination of art information has come from projects aided by UNESCO. For example, since 1949 UNESCO and its national commissions have worked with art publishers to establish a central archives service of art reproductions. In this undertaking, UNESCO had the assistance of International Council of Museums. Other organizations that have been active on the international scene include the Artists International Association, International Association of Art Critics, and the International Union of Artitects (33, avenue du Maine 75755 PARIS Cedex 15 – France).
Another major influence in the area of art information is the Getty Trust, of which the Art History Information Program, the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, and of course, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California, are part. The main address is The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90049. Projects are as diverse as Art and Architecture Thesaurus, the Census of Antique Art and Architecture Known to the Renaissance, and others based at various locations in the United States and abroad, are all supported by the Getty organizations. The J. Paul Getty Trust public affairs office is located at 1875 Century Park East, Ste. 2300, Los Angeles, CA 90067. The research institute is properly cited as The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, and its URL is http://www.getty.edu/gri/ (accessed November 19, 2012).
Within the United States, the variety of national, regional, and state organizations concerned with art information is too large for an exhaustive listing, but several national organizations should be mentioned. The American Federation of Art (305 E 47th St # 10, New York, NY 10017) was founded in 1909 to broaden public art appreciation, especially in areas of the country not served by large museums. Its membership includes 500 art institutions and 3,000 individuals. The program of the organization includes circulating museum collections and preparing curricula on visual arts education. The Federation advises on the publication of the American Art Directory, Sources of Films on Art, and Who’s Who in American Art.
The National Art Education Association (1806 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 300, Reston, VA 20191) was founded in 1947 to promote the study of the problems of teaching art as well as to encourage research and experimentation in the visual arts. Affiliated with the National Education Association, the National Art Education Association has 8,000 art teachers, supervisors, and students as members. It publishes NAEA News and the journal Art Education.
Other national organizations include the American Association of Museums (1575 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20005), the College Art Association (50 Broadway, 21st Floor, New York, NY 10004), and the American Arts Alliance (805 15th St. N.W., Ste. 500, Washington, DC 20004). There is also the American Arts Association. The first two associations publish, respectively, Museum News and Advisory CAA Reviews, The Art Bulletin, and Art Journal.
Of special interest to librarians and information specialists are The Arts Library Society, with headquarters in Bromsgrove, United Kingdom, which publishes Art Libraries Journal, and its American counterpart, Art Libraries Society/North America (401 Lake Boone Trail, Ste. 201, Raleigh, NC 27607), publisher of Art Documentation. ARLIS/NA celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1997; its history is chronicled by notable author Wolfgang M. Freitag in “ARLIS/NA at Twenty-five—A Reminiscence,” Art Documentation 16 (Fall 1997): 15-19.
The Museums, Arts, and Humanities division of Special Libraries Association (SLA) was established in 1929 (as the Museum Group) and is now the fifth-largest SLA division, with over 1,000 members. SLA is located at 331 South Patrick Street Alexandria, VA 22314-3501. The American Society for Information Science (ASIS) (8720 Georgia Ave., Ste. 501, Silver Spring, MD 20910) also has a special interest group (SIG) on Arts and Humanities. According to the 1994 directory of ASIS, members of the SIG are “interested in retrieval of text, images, sound and humanistic implications of information technology.” There is also the Association of Architectural Librarians (1735 New York Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006), which publishes a newsletter for the membership.
There are also many special associations that will have information for the interested librarian or information specialist. General directories will give the particulars on organizations like the Glass Art Society, the Handweavers Guild of America, the National Sculpture Society, the National Watercolor Society, the American Pewter Guild, and the Art Dealers Association of America, to name just a few. Most also now maintain Web pages.
Collections in the fine arts are numerous and can be found in public, academic, and special libraries. Examples of public library collections of note include the Art and Architecture Division of the New York Public Library and the Fine Arts Library of the Westminster City Libraries (United Kingdom). Among university libraries we have the Avery Architectural Library at Columbia University (New York), the Fine Arts Library of Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts), and the Marquand Library of Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey).
Other notable U.S. library collections include the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington, D.C., The Frick Art Reference Library in New York, the libraries of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C. Of course, the Smithsonian Institutions in Washington, D.C., of which the Archive of American Art is a part, offer extensive resources on site and on the Web.
Art Information: Research Methods and Resources, by Lois Swan Jones (Kendall/Hunt, 1990) has a section on research centers that should be consulted for other library and research collections. Subject Collections, by Lee Ash (7th ed., R. R. Bowker, 1993), is also a valuable source of information on special resources.