Posts RSS Comments RSS

Citing Images and Other Arts-Related Sources

Art historians use a variety of published and unpublished materials in their writing, including

  • reproductions of artworks and other visual images

  • live performances

  • broadcasts

  • recordings

  • exhibition catalogs

  • catalog raisonnes

  • ephemera including advertisements, exhibition wall text

  • documentary photographs including installation views and conservation photographs

Citing works of art and related materials can be difficult because you may not be able to find the same identifying elements as you would for a traditional book. And depending on the scope of your project, you may need to refer to images in several different ways, including captions, notes, a list of illustrations, and in the bibliography. You may have to adapt given examples and standards to fit materials that are not specifically included in the style guides, but that’s okay as long as you are clear and consistent about how you handle the material throughout your paper.

This guide draws primarily on Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (which is adapted from Chicago Style) and the Chicago Manual of Style. Both sources have sections that pertain to citing visual materials, but there are many other citation styles that you could use. Good advice for whatever citation style you choose is to adapt the given examples to fit the material you need to cite and to be consistent.

Additionally, if the source where you discover the image or information has a preferred citation or includes a credit line, defer to the institution’s preference. Many archives and other repositories will require their preferred citation.

Citing Artworks

The primary elements to include are the name of the artist, the title of the artwork and date of creation, the name of the repository (if any) and location. Titles should be italicized.

(note examples)

3. Arthur Garfield Dove, Harbor in Light, 1929, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago.
11. H. C. Westermann, Burning House, 1958, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago.

You may often refer to artworks in your writing. Some examples of In-text references to artworks are below:

Dove demonstrates this technique in Harbor in Light (1929; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago).
Westermann’s attention to detail can be observed in Burning House (1958; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago).

Citing Online Reproductions of Artworks

If you discovered the image online, cite that file by including all of the information suggested when citing an artwork, as well as the title of the website or database, the file type, and the stable URL to that artwork as well as the date you accessed it. If you cannot get a URL for the image record, include the URL for the main website (this will be the case for many galleries of contemporary art).

(note example)

21. Johannes Vermeer, View of Houses in Delft, Known as ‘The Little Street,’ ca. 1658, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Rijksstudio Web site, JPEG file, (accessed September 26, 2013).
43. Vik Muniz, Two Flags, 2007. ARTstor, JPEG file, (accessed October 1, 2013).
51. Bauhaus Metal Workshop, Marianne Brandt, designer, Tea Service: Tea Infuser (Pot), 1924 (design), manufactured at the Bauhaus between 1924 and 1929, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago. Smart Museum Collections Website, JPEG file,$0040/3/title-asc?t:state:flow=55cb5763-ae7c-49ab-af2f-9d4f294e4ba4 (accessed October 4, 2013).
60. Soichi Sunami, Installation view of the exhibition “Photographs by Bill Brandt, Harry Callahan, Ted Croner, Lisette Model,” on view November 30, 1948–February 10, 1949, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. ARTstor, JPEG file, (accessed October 7, 2013).

Regarding images in LUNA: When citing images you discovered in LUNA’s “Art History Department Teaching collection,” use the “Image Source” field in the image’s metadata to find the bibliographic information you will need to cite the image as it was published in the source.  LUNA does not display the page number on which an image is located in the text. Contact us if you’re having trouble finding the image in the book.

For example, to cite this image in LUNA by Robert Gober, the note would look like this:

13. Robert Gober, Long Haired Cheese, 1992–93, in Theodora Vischer, ed., Robert Gober: Sculptures and Installations: 1979–2007 (Schaulager: Steidl, 2007), 339.

Other Types of Visual Materials

Per Turabian, you may only need to refer to these types of materials in your footnotes (and not the bibliography). It’s up to your discretion. Adapt the basic pattern for citing artworks or reproductions of artworks and provide as much identifying information as is available to you. Titles should be in roman type and enclosed in quotation marks, and describe the material after the title if necessary.

11. American Airlines, “Here’s America’s First and Only Stewardess College,” advertisement, ca. 1957.
32. First Garden City Limited, “Letchworth: The First Garden City,” advertising poster, ca. 1925.

Citing Exhibition Catalogs

In the bibliography, format the citation as you would for a book, but include the name and location of the exhibition after the publication data. You can treat other information from an exhibition in a similar way, including pamphlets or other ephemera associated with the exhibition.

(note example)

7. Dickerman, Leah. Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925: How a Radical Idea Changed Modern Art (New York: Museum of Modern Art, in association with Artbook/D.A.P., 2012), 37.

(bibliography example)

Dickerman, Leah. Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925: How a Radical Idea Changed Modern Art. New York City: Museum of Modern Art, in association with Artbook/D.A.P., 2012. Published in conjunction with the exhibition “Inventing Abstraction: How a Radical Idea Changed Modern Art” shown at the Museum of Modern Art.

Citing Live Performances

Cite live performances (theatrical, musical, or dance) only in the notes. Include the title of the work, names of key performers and their roles, the venue, and date. The titles of plays and long musical compositions should be italicized, but the titles of shorter works should be set in roman type and enclosed in quotation marks. If the citation focuses on an individual’s performance, list that person’s name before the title of the work.

(note examples)

17. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, adapted by Oren Jacoby, directed by Christopher McElroen, Court Theatre, Chicago, January 25, 2012.
2. Vaslav Nijinsky, choreographer, Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), by Stravinsky, composer, Joffrey Ballet, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, September 21, 2013.

Citing Audio-Visual Materials

The BUFVC’s Guidelines for Referencing Moving Image and Sound (2013) are excellent, and provide examples for film, television, radio, other audio (including recordings, songs, podcasts, and archival recordings), and perhaps most importantly, new media (including user-generated content, vlogs, webcasts, webinars, and games). Turabian also lists examples of how to cite a variety of audio-visual resources if you would prefer to follow that style.

11. The Artist [feature film trailer, online] Dir. Michel Hazanavicius. Weinstein Company, France, 2011. 2min 31secs. (accessed September 26, 2013).
14. Clown Torture [film installation] Creat. Bruce Nauman, Prod co. n.k., USA, 1987. 60 mins. Elusive Signs: Bruce Nauman Works with Light, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.
20. Who Are You, Polly Magoo? [feature film] Dir. William Klein. Club des Produceteurs, France, 1966. 102mins.

Citing Archival Materials

When citing archival materials, include as much identifying information as you can. Include the author’s name if it is known, followed by the title or type of document, the date of the item, the name of the collection, and the name of the repository. Use quotation marks for specific titles of documents but not for generic or descriptive names, such as minutes or photograph. Include additional identifying information if it will help to lead readers directly to your sources.

(note example)

1. C. F. Beezley, Jr., Calumet plant at night during Century of Progress photograph, 1933, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive, Box 348, Folder 10, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

 (bibliography example)

Beezley, Jr., C. F. Calumet plant at night during Century of Progress photograph, 1933. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive, Box 348, Folder 10, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

ARTstor’s Export Citation Feature

You can export citations for an individual image or groups of images with ARTstor’s Save Citation feature. In the ARTstor digital library, select the image or images you want to save the citation for, and then click Tools > Save citations for selected images.

You can also save the citations for an entire image group. First, open the image group, then click Tools > Save citations for image group.

After receiving the confirmation message that the citations were saved, click Tools > View and export citations. A new browser window will open, showing the saved citations and a reference image. Select the citations you would like to export by checking the box above each image.

If you want to email the citations to yourself or others, click on “Email citations” in the Export options” section of the “Your saved citations” page. You can choose to email them to yourself in a tab-delimited file or as a printer-friendly document.

If you would rather export the citations to EndNote or another citation manager, you can export your ARTstor citations directly into these programs. You will need to save an ARTstor filter to EndNote—download it from this link here. After installing the filter, select “Export citations into EndNote, ProCite, or Reference Manager” from the “Export options” section of the “Your saved citations” page. A small window will ask whether you would like to open or save the file: select Open. This action launches the citation manager you have installed on your computer. Another window will open, asking you to choose a filter—scroll down the list and select “ARTstor.” After selecting the filter, your database will open with the new citations directly imported from ARTstor. The filter allows metadata from ARTstor’s database to fall into the correct EndNote fields.

If you would like to save a thumbnail image to your bibliographic citation in EndNote, you can do so after importing the citations. Download the images from ARTstor, open a citation record, and click on the symbol for Charts to upload the image file.

For more information on managing image citations in EndNote, see this guide published on our blog. And for more information from ARTstor on exporting citations, see their guide “Citing Images.”

Citation Managers

There are several resources on campus that can help you manage your citations as well as your image sources. The University Library recommends EndNote and Zotero to manage citations. A separate but related function, the VRC recommends Adobe Bridge and Portfolio to manage your personal image collection.

Other Library Resources Pertaining to Citations

LibGuide on “How do I cite resources?