Art on the web
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Date: 28 July, 2003



 


By Andrew Chapman

Art isn't just out there in galleries, whether the great national collections or the trendy 'white spaces' of London: it's everywhere, and that means online.

Let fish paint a picture of what's available for you: we've divided up the world of art on the net into four handy categories, as follows:

Image libraries - trying to track down a particular reproduction? One of these is bound to have it
History of art - whether you're a student of art, or just a student of life, here's where to learn all about the visual arts
National museums and galleries - many of the great collections are now online, some as selected highlights, and others complete
Contemporary arts - art never stays still for long, and here's where to go to see the latest and upcoming names.

Find out how the fish ratings system works

Image libraries
Now that everyone is used to digital imaging, it's easy to see the advantages of having access to artworks and stock images on the internet - if you are producing a website, a magazine or a brochure, they can really liven it up, and it helps to be able to search instantly by keywords rather than wade through dozens of heavy catalogues.

Here are some of the largest and most popular resources, including collections of prints to grace your walls at home as well as your work. Remember, though: unless clearly stated as royalty-free, these images are copyright and will vary in cost, generally depending on how big an audience you are hoping to reach. Always check the rights information carefully.

Art Atlas
http://www.art-atlas.net
If you're looking for art of a particular kind, this international site is a good place to track it down, whether it's mosaics or multimedia - basically a portal linking to artists and resources of all kinds, rather than an actual image library.
Content: 4
Design: 2
Originality: 3
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Bridgeman Art Library
http://www.bridgeman.co.uk
Chances are that nice picture on the cover of the classic novel you're reading was sourced from the Bridgeman - it's the leading library for art images of all kinds, and represents the collections of most major galleries and museums. Ideal for anyone needing artworks for reproduction in any media.
Content: 5
Design: 5
Originality: 5
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Corbis
http://www.corbis.com
Corbis have put 2.1 million digital paintings and photos online (apparently - we didn't count). You can search for what you want by artist or subject matter. Looking's free, doing anything else with them will cost you.
Content: 5
Design: 4
Originality: 4
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Easyart
http://www.easyart.co.uk
Voted Art Business Website of the Year 2003, EasyArt offers 40,000 prints to buy, with a framing service and speedy delivery. Artworks across all categories are available, from classic to contemporary, as well as prints for kids - and there's now a service providing art screens for colour mobile phones.
Content: 4
Design: 4
Originality: 3
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Hulton Getty
http://www.hultongetty.com
The Hulton archive boasts more than 40 million photographic images, 230,000 of which are online - track down famous people from the 20th century, buildings and striking scenes. There's also an archive of film footage and newsreels. You will need to register to search the archive.
Content: 5
Design: 4
Originality: 4
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History of art

If you want to learn more about the history of different varieties of art, check out our listings below. These include portals pointing to other sites that cover individual artists or specific periods in depth, as well as a news magazine which will keep you absolutely up-to-date with the art world. Note that these are art *history* resources - they won't teach you how to paint for yourself. The best way to do that is to keep practising - and go to some evening classes!

Artycyclopedia
http://www.artcyclopedia.com
Art encyclopedia it isn't, it's a directory of art galleries' websites. You tell it the piece you want to see (or the artist or gallery) and it takes you there. or you can browse through by period, subject matter or medium. Loads to see and you won't get sore feet.
Content: 5
Design: 4
Originality: 4
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Art history resources on the Web
http://witcombe.sbc.edu/ARTHLinks.html

Another portal, this site deserves recognition for its extensive scope: whether you want to know about cremation rites in Bali, art of the Aztecs, or good old John Constable, it's all here, although a bit slow to load.
Content: 5
Design: 2
Originality: 3
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Arts Journal
http://www.artsjournal.com/
This 'daily digest of arts culture and ideas' presents up-to-date news stories across the arts and around the world, from painting and sculpture to music, dance and theatre. A free daily email digest is available.
Content: 5
Design: 4
Originality: 4
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History of Art Virtual Library
http://www.chart.ac.uk/vlib/
This no frills site provides useful links to online art history resources, both for the general public, and for academic students of the subject.
Content: 3
Design: 2
Originality: 2
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Timeline of Art History
http://www.metmuseum.org/
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art provides extensive online information about the history of world art since antiquity - this timeline is an excellent place to start. A work in progress, the timeline currently extends to 1600 AD.
Content: 4
Design: 4
Originality: 4
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Major museum and gallery collections

Most major museums and libraries across the world have a website now - but the level of content varies. There isn't room to list them all here, so we've focused on depth of content, or resources to help you look further. The Prado in Madrid, for example, is a major world gallery, but doesn't feature here because its website only has basic visiting information. Compare that with the National Gallery in London and Russia's Hermitage, which present thousands of artworks online. These will never be a substitute for the real thing, though!

The Hermitage
http://www.hermitagemuseum.org
The Hermitage in St Petersburg has a collection of more than three million artworks and artefacts. The website explores the highlights of the collection, and a growing digital library offers many images at high resolution.
Content: 5
Design: 3
Originality: 4
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The Louvre
http://www.louvre.fr/louvrea.htm
Paris's huge museum and gallery doesn't put it's entire collection online like our National Gallery, but the site does offer some stunning virtual tours of selected rooms (a powerful computer will help). The site is sometimes a bit tight-lipped about explaining itself, and bits of the English version aren't in English, but useful nonetheless.
Content: 3
Design: 2
Originality: 3
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Museumnet
http://www.museums.co.uk
A large, searchable listing of museums countrywide which is easy to use and fast. It includes valuable information about location and opening times, if you're planning a trip.
Content: 3
Design: 2
Originality: 4
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The National Gallery
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk
The whole collection is online. It isn't quite the same as seeing the real paintings, but it's certainly quicker. You can read up on each one, and the section on Puzzling Pictures is particularly worth a look.
Content: 5
Design: 5
Originality: 5
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The Tate
http://www.tate.org.uk
Stylishly presented information about The Tate, Tate Modern and their various countrywide offspring. Find out more about forthcoming and current exhibitions. There is also an extensive picture library and a bookshop.
Content: 4
Design: 4
Originality: 3
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Contemporary

These days art is often big news - and big business. These sites will introduce you to the big names of tomorrow as well as today. If you want to buy some of their work, take a look at BritArt, which pioneered buying art online. But if you're worried about some of the excesses of trendiness, or simply prefer a nice old-fashioned yahcting scene, check out some of the other sites listed below. Whether art is in the eye of the beholder or of advertising executives, these sites will give you some perspective!

Bowieart
http://www.bowieart.com
Whatever you might think of David Bowie as a musician or an artist, you certainly can't fault his website. Though you can view and purchase Bowie's art at this information-packed website, you'll also find a good deal of information on young British artists, plus first-time sculpture, painting and photography from students.
Content: 5
Design: 5
Originality: 5
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Britart
http://www.britart.com
After an award-winning advertising campaign in 2000, which including labelling London pavements as if they were artworks (perhaps they are...), this site is still thriving as the home for up-and-coming British artists. Learn about them, buy their work online, and read the online magazine artwords.
Content: 4
Design: 4
Originality: 5
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The Photographer's Gallery
http://www.photonet.org.uk
This very attractive and cleverly designed site represents the eponymous gallery in London, featuring contemporary camerawork, some of which is available to buy. There are also links to other photography venues and resources.
Content: 2
Design: 5
Originality: 3
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Stuckism
http://www.stuckism.com
Somewhere between the two poles of traditional art as seen in local galleries everywhere and the trendy world of the Young British Artists and the Saatchi Gallery lies the province of 'stuckism'. Read all about this movement for 'contemporary figurative painting with ideas' here.
Content: 3
Design: 2
Originality: 5
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The UK 'Real Art' Directory
http://www.pc002a5698.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/page2.html
However much media attention bisected cows and empty rooms might get, the vast majority of art actually bought conforms to more traditional standards. This basic site focuses exclusively on 'the work of affordable UK artists producing artwork in a "realistic" style' - think conventional landscapes, portraits and animals.
Content: 2
Design: 1
Originality: 3
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