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Course & Subject Guides

History of Photography Research @ Pitt: Photographers

Designed to assist students taking History of Photography courses at Pitt.

Advanced Search Techniques 

An important thing to keep in mind when searching for resources in the art field is that many publications may be print only. Other fields have a larger percentage of content that is in both electronic and print form. However, since there are many considerations relating to image rights and other licensing issues, many art history resources exist in print form only. Through PittCat you can filter between electronic resources and physical items held by the library. If an electronic version is preferred, you can request a partial digitization scan in PittCat.

There are many ways to search for information about specific artists. However, the techniques used can differ depending on what kind of resources you are searching for. Two of these methods are searching by keyword, and searching by subject heading.

Keyword Searching

This often results in lots of material, including biographical information, resources that include multiple artists, and much more. This type of searching can be beneficial if you are doing preliminary research or want to get a sense of how that person is represented in the literature about them. Keyword searching is a lot like "Googling" for information - there will be a lot to look through, and you might not find what you're looking for. 

Subject Headings

Subject headings are a good way to narrow in on focused resources about your topic. They are part of the way that librarians classify books and some are regulated by the Library of Congress. They are not as obvious as keywords, but once you get used to searching them, you'll enjoy using them. On the front page of PittCat, select the Browse search option—It defaults to search by Name, but one of the options available is "Library of Congress Subject Headings". Let's say we enter the general term "Photography": from a simple scroll down the results page, we can see that the subject headings describe in increasing detail. "Photography" is at the top, but we also see "Photography--20th Century--West (U.S.)--Exhibitions." and "Photography, Abstract--Handbooks, Manuals, etc.". Photography is the main subject, but as we move to the right, the categories get more specific. This is a great way to find specific resources on a topic!

Catalogues Raisonnés

Artist Biographies

Art & Architecture Databases

Some of the best databases to use for doing artist research include the following: 

Search Tips When Doing Artist Research:

  • Search for the artist name. Either use first name, last name, or try using last name, first name.  
  • Search for the artist name and name of art movement.
  • Search for the artist name and medium of artwork
  • Search for the name of an exhibition they were in. 
  • Search for artists they may have been friends with during the period of time in question.
  • Search for the name a of a school or gallery they may have been associated with during the period of time in question.  
  • Search for a specific work of art by that artist by its title and year.
  • Refine your searches by using AND, OR, NOT, etc between keywords. 
  • If you are looking for a specific article and know the author, type in the name of the article AND the author's name.