Visual Arts: History and theory

Art history and theory

JSTOR: a key database for art history and theory

Looking for articles written in the 1950s? 1940s? 1980s? 1880s? Use JSTOR for easy access to online full text of articles from core scholarly journals in disciplines including art and art history, philosophy and sociology.

Unlike many other databases, JSTOR often provides  online access to journals from the earliest issue. It is an excellent source of material from the 1800s through subsequent decades.

For the most recent years (e.g. last five years) you may need to use another source, such as Art & Architecture Complete.

Some of the journals covered by JSTOR include: Art Journal, Design Issues, Leonardo, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research and The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticsm.

Art theory: a selection

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Access this freely available enyclopedia authored by experts in the field. While the content is selective, there may be articles of interest. Extensive bibliographies provide guidance for further reading. Example entries:

Key scholarly art reference - Oxford Art Online

Access Oxford Art Online

Definitions, overviews, images: access reliable information on artists, styles, periods, theory and more.


More scholarly and better regarded than most of what you will find via Google. Try it!

Search Oxford Art Online

Museums & Collections

Themes in history & theory - example catalogue searches

Themes [Image source: UniSA Library]

Broad, unfiltered catalogue searches:

TIP: Try limiting your results by Subject, Format or Date, to find those publications most relevant to your needs. For example, you could limit to Format:Journal Article or Book.

Results not what you're looking for? Try a subject search to focus your results!

Compare the results from these two searches:

Sometimes the results you find in the Catalogue don't appear very relevant. One technique you could use is to select Subject from the drop-down menu next to 'Search'. This will limit your results to records where these terms are listed as key themes.

Works by and about specific authors/theorists

To find publication by and about individuals search on their name. You may find more resources if you search both firstname lastname and lastname, firstname. Examples:

If the author has a relatively unique name you could just use this, e.g.derrida

To only find works by specific authors/theorists use the 'Author' option from the drop-down menu next to 'Search':

A few works on art history