How to research artists and art works. Locating reproductions and recent art sales by artists.
The work of Australian artists has always been a primary focus of the Library's visual arts collection. Books, magazines, catalogues, databases, manuscripts and a range of other resources are all available for those with an interest in Australia's art history.
Central to this is the Australian Art and Artists & Gallery file collection, often referred to as AAA. This is a collection of over 30,000 files containing exhibition material related to Australian art, artists, awards and galleries. Art exhibition catalogues, invitations to exhibitions, press clippings and other ephemeral material from the 19th century onwards are held in this collection.
One of the strengths of this collection is the information it contains about Victorian art organisations such as the Victorian Artists’ Society and the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors. Very often the brochures and cuttings found in these files are the only remaining evidence of the work of a particular artist or society.
Use the Library catalogue to identify whether we hold a file on an artist or a gallery. Just type in the artist or gallery name. These items can be requested online. Items are retrieved normally within 30 minutes if requested between 10am and 5pm.
The files are rare items and are delivered to the Heritage Collections Reading Room Level 2A, adjacent to the Cowen Gallery. There may be photocopying restrictions on some items but you can use a digital camera.
The easiest way to find information on an artist or a gallery is to just do a keyword search using the artist's or gallery name. The green Available note for each record will indicate how you can access the item.
Add the terms Australian Art and Artists file, or Australian Gallery file to narrow your search only to files and not to other content. See this search for a Gallery file for 69 Smith Street Gallery.
Art journals will often have reviews of exhibitions. See some of the databases the Library subscribes to listed below. They are available in the Library and can be accessed offsite to registered Victorian users.
Also see the box on this page for research using newspapers.
To find online articles quickly, choose the Articles option from the drop down list next to the search box. The search box is at the top of any page of our website, including this guide.
Once you have executed the search use the options at left of the screen to narrow your search. For example here is a search for articles about a notable exhibition of decorative and industrial arts that was held in Jaipur in 1883. Here are reviews of the Gerhard Richter exhibition Panorama at the Tate Modern.
Newspapers can be a wonderful source of information on artists and exhibitions.
For example here is a search using the Trove Australian digitised newspapers and more database for a little known exhibition by Sgt John Carnell. Here is another search for news reports of the famous 1889 exhibition 9 by 5 Impressionism Exhibition.
Some specific newspapers and magazines have significant arts coverage. Table Talk was a magazine that was published from 1885 to 1939 and has been digitised on Trove.
The magazine specialised in theatre, painting, music and all the arts and has a regular Art & Artists column.
For example we can easily find items on Arthur Loureiro, a Portuguese painter who lived in Melbourne for twenty years (1884-1904).
See these databases containing a wide range of information on art and artists. Most require a Victorian registration for access.
For current information on galleries worldwide, try a search engine using the gallery's name or a location and keywords such as gallery.
In print the International directory of arts provides a world wide listing of commercial and public galleries with their contact details. The Library holds volumes from 1961 to current.
The Library also holds a large collection of published catalogues for both Australian and overseas artists for exhibitions held here and abroad. Check the catalogue under the name of an artist or the name of a gallery to locate exhibition catalogues.
If you wish to search a particular artist at a specific gallery include both names in the search. Or if you can search for exhibitions at a specific gallery, for example: Fine Art Society Gallery
The Art Almanac describes itself as 'Australia's monthly briefing on art'. It is a guide to current exhibitions around Australia. The Library holds print copies of most (but not all) issues from 1974 to current.
The current issue and an archive of the last 90 days are also available online through our PressReader database. The database can be viewed in the Library and is accessible offsite to registered Victorian users.