Secondary Sources

Where to find artists and information about art works?


The teacher

The teacher is the most important source of information without a doubt, and the teacher's knowledge will be the single most useful resource the students have available. However, not all teachers have an extensive knowledge of art history, or a wide ranging knowledge of art from traditions and cultural backgrounds other than their own, and we all need good sources to consult.

Students need help finding appropriate art works to analyze and compare for their Comparative Study, and they need to identify artists to inspire them and lead them along their path, but where do you find an artist when you don't know where to start?

Choosing Artworks

Choose your artworks for the Comparative study bearing in mind the availability of appropriate resources, the marking criteria and the requirements of the task:Your choice of artworks might be inspired...

 Books and magazines

 I still find it a much more enjoyable experience to leaf through the big heavy color plates of an art book than to look at tiny low resolution images on a screen. Use your local, school or University library whenever possibile. Bookshops are also good for browsing the art section and many bookstores and libraries have a section dedicated to art magazines. Magazines will be mostly about current art and some of them are available to read online.

Essential Reading...

Some magazines worth looking at, although the language and writing can be difficult, are: Tate Magazine, Art Monthly, Flash Art, Art Forum, Turps Banana, Frieze Magazine, and the arts section of many newspapers. The Guardian has good arts reviews and supplements like the Guardian Guide to drawing featured in some of the drawing lessons on this site. A good old fashioned art history survey like Gombrich, The Story of Art, or Jansons History of Art for Young People are useful to have in the classroom. John Berger's Ways of Seeing is essential reading for any serious art student.

The Internet

The world wide web is indeed an amazing thing, where would we be without it? It's unimaginable now to think of going to a library every time you want to look something up. However, the internet is also a good place to get lost or severely misguided. if you don't know how to search with discernment than you will end up relying either on wikipedia or somebody's blog (who perhaps doesn't have a clue what they are talking about. ) Most students haven't developed refined researching techniques so it is best to recommend certain reliable sites for them to use for research rather than wandering aimlessly around the net.

Most Museums and galleries have their own websites and many allow you to search the entire collection. Some have extensive teacher resources and added timelines, activities and media. I have included my favorite Museum and Gallery websites on the resource list but if you look up any Museum, chances are there will be a searchable database of the collection.

Google image ID

Did you know about the google image identification tool? This is a helpful tool for students to identify artworks when they forgot to make a note of the artist, teachers too ;)

How: Open google images home page and drag and drop the image you want to identify into the image search box. Google will match your image as closely as possible.

Remember to acknowledge your sources Referencing and Citing Sources for all submitted work. This is an assessed criteria. Also look at pages on Citing Images and Bibliographies 

Museums and galleries as primary resources

If you have direct access to any Museums, art galleries or collections, these are great opportunities for getting to know artists and artworks. Take your students or send them on their own! Make use of these Primary Sources: Exhibitions if you are so fortunate to be able to.The page on visiting museums and galleries makes an explicit case for field trips.

Useful Art Museum and Education Websites

A selection of the many great resources out there, additional suggestions are very welcome.

I have compiled a list of websites that I use for searching for artists and images. The main header hyperlinks to the website. Also refer to your own countries' Museums and Galleries for more local collections and databases.

Art 21, PBS


Perhaps my all time favorite online resource for finding out about contemporary artists. Dedicated to the 21st century, this site is extremely intelligent, forward thinking, chock full of interesting artists, interviews, slideshows and video clips. Absolutely wonderful.

Google Arts and Cuture


Nice to browse for inspiration, and for ideas and topics for the Comparative Study.  You can virtually walk around a Museum, or explore by topic, time period, or featured focus. Excellent high resolution images that you can zoom in on.



look, learn about, browse through thousands of artists, including many contemporary less well-known artists. Also search thematically.

Annenberg Learner

Browse art works through time, period, medium and region...and cross reference by thematic focus, very useful!

PBS The Art Assignment

weekly art assignments, useful for teaching grades leading up to IBDP.

Khan Academy

Good for art history lessons and ToK

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London ( V&A)

This is one the best Museum websites for IB Art students and teachers; not only for its vast collection of art objects and design but for the exhibitions and teachers resources. I refer to the V&A on several pages of this website.


National Gallery of Art, London

An incredible wealth of resources with a very user friendly website. Also look at this // , All kinds of artists, writers and filmmakers take inspiration from the National Gallery collection

The Museum of Modern Art, New York ( MOMA)

A major collection of modernist art,  Very clear and accessible resources for teachers and students.

Moma red studio especially for teens about contemporary art , ideas, activities

Moma Learning, fantastic for research and  browse-able by theme or artist

Moma Glossary, for art vocabulary

The Tate Galleries

almost the full collection is online now, very useful website. Try some of these:

Tate shots on youtube, 532 short videos on artists- also someTate shots available on Tate website here

Tate on apple podcast short interesting podcasts of artists talking about their practice

Individual artist profiles, with depth, like this one on Francesca Woodman

Art terms a huge glossary of art terminology

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

www.metmuseum. org

A huge collection with a wide cultural and chronological range. Have a look at the interactive timeline of art history

Heilbrunn timeline of art history, choose your region and time period and off you go

British Museum, London

this collection is a wonderful tool to help you locate cultural objects from the past. The collection is searchable by topic, by culture, by time period, truly an IB Art treasure.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

// connecting art across the curriculum especially for teachers

The Louvre, Paris

Not so easy to navigate but it is a huge collection of classical art ranging from Greek art through the 19th century

National Portrait Gallery, London
A helpful website, lots of good exhibitions based around portraiture arranged thematically

The Whitechapel Gallery, London
a varying array of projects and ideas relating to current exhibitions,also past projects in archives

The British Library

a  selection of historical artists books in this archive online, view the books, turn the pages….

Camden Arts Centre

excellent resources devoted to exhibitions current and past

Share this list Useful Websites for art teachers and students

More useful links

Direct students to the Selected Artists and Shows pages for some input on exhibitions and selected artists

Browse this list of Web Resources for Art History for timelines and cultural/historical context

Contemporary Artists from the Middle East

Art Glossaries

Referencing and Citing Sources

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