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Twentieth-Century Art Resources: Encyclopedias

A guide to major sources of information for researching 20th-century art and artists

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Encyclopedias of Art History





The Dictionary of Art
Despite its title, this multivolume reference work is really an encyclopedia. Monumental in scope, it is the largest and most comprehensive reference work on the visual arts that has ever been published. Don't start any research on art without checking this source. It is also available online in Oxford Art Online.
Encyclopedia of World Art
Although older than the encyclopedia above, this is still a useful and scholarly work. It is richly illustrated with thousands of color and black-and-white plates, which are all found together at the back of each volume.
Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art
Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Art
These books contain brief articles devoted to topics relating to world art of the 20th century.  The first one extends also into the first few years of the 21st century.
Encyclopedia of Architecture: Design, Engineering, Construction
Encyclopedia of American Architecture
Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Architecture 
The first of these encyclopedias is a multivolume work containing scholarly articles on all aspects of architecture. The second is a beautifully illustrated one-volume encyclopedia devoted to American architecture of all time periods, with strong coverage of the twentieth century. The third, a 3-volume set, treats world architecture of the twentieth century only. All three encyclopedias supplement in greater depth the information you can find on architecture in the general art encyclopedias.
Encyclopedia of Photography
The Photography Encyclopedia
Encyclopédie Internationale des Photographes de 1839 à Nos Jours/ Photographers Encyclopaedia International 1839 to the Present
These are excellent places to begin research on photography or photographers. The Encyclopédie, which is written in both French and English, provides useful chronologies and bibliographies and is a good place to start research on a particular photographer.
Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes 
This reference book offers articles on artists, techniques, and movements that were aesthetically innovative and forged new paths in artistic developments when they first appeared.  Besides the visual arts, it also includes innovators in the fields of music, dance, theatre, and film.


Humanities Librarian

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Leanna Goodwater
University Library
Santa Clara University
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Santa Clara, CA 95053