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ARTH 325 The Cutting Edge: Modern and Contemporary Art and Global Contexts


Scholarly books can also be excellent sources for establishing historical and cultural issues, locating background information, or placing your topic in context with related issues. 


Primo is a good starting point for finding books, articles, and other sources available through Collins Library and 39 Summit libraries.

Search Primo

Copy and paste the suggested search terms to find sources:

  • "Art American 20th Century"
  • "Art Modern 20th Century"
  • Art European 20th Century"

Search tip:

  • Search the artist's name and the phrase "criticism and interpretation" to find analytical sources.

Call Numbers to Browse

If you're interested in a broad art topic, or would like to browse for inspiration, try one of these Library of Congress call letters. The Ns are located on the third floor, while CC is on the lower level and TR is on the fourth floor.
  • N: Visual Arts
  • NA: Architecture
  • NB: Sculpture
  • NC: Drawing, Design, Illustration
  • ND: Painting
  • NE: Print media
  • NK: Decorative Arts
  • NX: Arts in general
  • CC: Archaeology
  • TR: Photography


Locations of books
  • Print Reference books are on the main floor across from the Learning Commons area.
  • Oversize books are on the lower level across from Technology Services.
  • Book stacks: Consult the library map; look for location posters; or ask any staff member for help!

Museum Bulletins

Museum bulletins, technically, aren't books but serials but they are useful sources about artworks. They generally feature articles about museum exhibitions, programs, operations, and may include lists of new acquisitions as well as in-depth articles about select pieces from the collection. They are useful for establishing provenance of artworks and establishing context for the acquisition of pieces in museums. Museum curators are scholars in their own right and can provide cultural, historical, and artistic context for artworks.

Bulletins for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston MFA), the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and the Art Institute of Chicago are available via JSTOR. A number of museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum, offer their bulletins online now through their institutional websites.


There are two types of catalogs found in Primo: exhibition catalogs and catalogues raisonnees.

 Exhibition Catalogs Uses:

  • Introductory essays may provide current thinking and new discoveries on the topic
  • Excellent source for images and a bibliography of sources
  • May include artist biography and timeline

 Catalogues Raisionnes Uses:

  • Reproductions
  • Authentication
  • Critical assessment
  • Scholarly essays
  • Bibliography

Suggested search terms  for finding catalogs in Primo:

  • "Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Exhibitions"
  • "catalogues raisonnes"

Search tip for finding artists in group exhibition catalogs:

Below are a few examples of catalogs from the library collection.

Examples of Books on 20th Century Art