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ARTbibliographies Modern Thesaurus

Notes for Users

The editors of ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM) use the controlled vocabulary featured in this Thesaurus in order to index entries in the database with the appropriate subject terms. In addition to these subject terms from the Thesaurus, ABM staff use names, including artist names (and pseudonyms), group names, and gallery names, to classify and index the entries. Artist names are the most important indexing terms and make up the majority of the terms applied to ABM entries. These names are not included in the Thesaurus, but can be readily searched by using the Browse Indexes feature and selecting the Subject/Artist index.

The process of constructing a thesaurus in the humanities becomes at some point a subjective affair. Questions on the relationships between evil and sin, forests and trees, and black and white are taxing at the best of time; in thesaurus terms they can be a philosophical step too far. We have tried to do justice to the history of the usage of terms in ABM and to their dictionary definitions. Where changes have been made in the usage of a term, or if it has fallen from favour, we have tried to indicate as much in the History or Scope Notes.

It should be noted by users that ARTbibliographies Modern has always used English rather than American-English spellings. It should also be stressed that some terms ceased to be used with Volume 19, when the scope of ABM changed to focus on the modern period; thus, references to Town Planning might be found in early records on the database, but not in more recent volumes. This is reflected in the Notes fields. New headings have taken on greater importance over time, such as Installation Works, and we hope that our attempts to remain current of changes in the art world are well represented in our introduction of new terms.


The following Web sites and publications have proved invaluable in the compilation of this Thesaurus:

Oxford Concise Dictionary of Art & Artists. Ian Chilvers. Oxford University Press, 1996

Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Art. Ian Chilvers. Oxford University Press, 1998

A Dictionary of Art Terms & Techniques. Ralph Mayer. A & C Black, 1969

Concise Oxford Dictionary, tenth edition. Oxford University Press, 1999

Glossary of Art, Architecture & Design Since 1945, 3rd Ed, John A. Walker. G. K. Hall, 1992