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Conducting Research - Art & Architecture Collection

Artist Files

Among the Library's unique resources are the Artist Files. The origins of the Artist Files date from the late nineteenth century, and ephemeral printed materials relating to individual artists have been collected since that time. The files focus on painters, sculptors, architects of all levels of importance and fame, but its greatest strength lies in its inclusion of minor and popular artists. There are over a million items on painters, sculptors, architects, fashion designers, designers, jewelers, craftsmen, collectors, among other types of personalities and artisans. The range of material is broad and consists of articles from magazines and newspapers, reproductions, photographs, manuscripts, gallery and museum announcements, exhibition brochures and press releases. The files are uncataloged and there are, as yet, no reference to them in our printed or online catalogs. 

Auction Indexes

Auction indexes are valuable tools to determine if a work of art was sold at auction and at what price. The Art Collection has a wide range of auction indexes covering both fine and decorative arts, as well as collectibles, sold at auction houses worldwide. Indexes may provide the name, dates and nationality of the artist, the title of work, dimensions, medium and price realized. A few of the indexes provide images, bibliographic and provenance information.

The following indexes are available in the Art Collection: ArtFact, ArtInfo: Art Sales Index, ArtNetAskArt, Leonard's Combined Price Index of Art Auctions, Mayer's International Auction Records, P4A Antiques Reference Database, and Gordon's Print and Photography Price Index. These databases are fee-based, but available free of charge when used in the Art & Architecture Collection of The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Catalogues Raisonnés

A catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known works of an artist in a particular medium or all media. It provides a illustration with title, dimensions, date, techniques, provenance and literature in reference to each specific work. In contrast, an oeuvre catalog is a listing with illustrations of an artist's works that may contain a citation, though primarily provides a checklist of each work. Request these items at the reference desk.  For a detailed description go to What is a Catalogue Raisonné?

Pamphlet Files

The Pamphlet Files, an original, yet uncataloged, resource at the Library, consists of exhibition brochures, fliers, small exhibition catalogues, gallery announcements, newsletters and other ephemera relating predominately to New York City and State galleries, museums, including those at colleges and universities, societies, foundations, and other arts organizations. In addition, there are files for one-time arts events and movements such as: "New York State Exposition" and "Art for Peace." Click to view A to Z list.

Research Consultations

Thirty minute consultations are available with a librarian for researchers undertaking an in-depth research project such as writing a book, article, thesis or publication project. To determine if this consultation is appropriate or to schedule an appointment, speak with a staff member at the reference desk or e-mail us at artref@nypl.org.

Vertical File

The Vertical File contains ephemeral materials, such as newspaper clippings, correspondence, and guidebooks, which refer to various art-related topics. Many of the materials are bibliographical, and the majority of them originate from the early- to mid-twentieth century (1910s-1950s). Materials are no longer being added to the Vertical File. Contents may have changed as items have been classified and added to the collection as discrete titles and/or monographs. Click to view A to Z list.

Internet Resources

There are numerous Internet sites that can prove helpful to your research.