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Online sources on contemporary art

How do you write you dissertation when public libraries including Garage Library’s reading room are closed? Or would you simply like to know more about a particular artist, art movement or work? Garage Research team member and head librarian Valery Ledenev has prepared an overview of resources that might be of use to researchers and anyone interested in contemporary art.

The range of books on contemporary art available online and for free is limited (journals are a little bit easier to find), but you can get access to quite a few texts, or at least their excerpts, if you know where to look for them.

A good place to start is Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative launched by the Getty Foundation in 2009. Institutions that publish their exhibition and collection catalogues on the OSCI platform for free use include giants like the Met, the Smithsonian Institution, and Tate. The collections of these and other participants are not limited to contemporary and modern art. Among other things, you will find countless catalogues on subjects ranging from the art of Japan, and Dutch old masters to American silver.

The website of the Getty Foundation itself is worth a visit—there too, you will find many interesting and valuable sources. 

On the website of Art Institute Chicago you will find publications for the exhibitions of Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse and other modernists. 

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has launched the Rauschenberg Research Project, and on the Tate website, you will find catalogues of the gallery’s research projects on American painting and performance.

No overview on the subject would be complete without a mention of the online library of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which holds one of the broadest and most diversified collections of texts on modern art from across the world. You will find Guggenheim publications in the bibliographies of many academic works—they are also among the frequently requested editions at Garage Library.

What can’t be found on museums' websites, might be available at Project Gutenberg. Unfortunately, a search for “Warhol” will yield only one result, and even that will not be an edition entirely devoted to Warhol (100 New Yorkers of the 1970s by Max Millard)—while the search for “Beuys” will yield nothing. However, you will easily find many of the older essential writings, such as Guillaume Apollinaire’s seminal piece on cubism—a good opportunity to re-read the classics!

It is definitely worth to visit Academia.edu—a global network for academics to share their findings. Access to sources is unlimited, but not everything can be downloaded with a free account. Here you will find, among other books, a Russian translation of Alexei Yurchak’s Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More, most articles by one of the key Russian art critics Andrey Kovalev, and a thesis on documentation of performance in Russia by St Petersburg-based academic Marina Israilova partially based on materials from Garage Archive Collection.    

Finally, I am going to use this opportunity to recommend a page with my own writings on Russian and international art, published in the Russian press over recent years.

Valeriy Ledenev

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