Open Educational Resources and Art/Art History

This collection was curated by an ASCCC OERI discipline lead. A comprehensive list of current discipline leads is available.

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Understanding Art/Art Appreciation (C-ID ARTH 100)

  • [NEW] Look at This! (Asa Sion Mittman, 2023) – Smart History (CC BY-NC)

    An introductory Art Appreciation text that focuses on tools of visual analysis, followed by an exploration of themes: religion, nature, power, garden realms, and copying. The book does not include an overview of art historical periods or movements. “Instead,” as Dr. Mittman writes, “by using examples chosen from throughout the globe, and from prehistory to the present day, the book should help you learn how to apply the basic tools of visual analysis to any object.”

  • Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning (Sachant et al.) (CC BY-SA)
    • “This text offers a comprehensive introduction to the world of Art. Authored by four USG faculty members with advanced degrees in the arts, this textbook offers up-to-date original scholarship. It includes over 400 high-quality images illustrating the history of art, its technical applications, and its many uses. Combining the best elements of both a traditional textbook and a reader, it introduces such issues in art as its meaning and purpose; its meaning and purpose; its structure, material, and form; and its diverse effects on our lives. Its digital nature allows students to follow links to applicable sources and videos, expanding the students’ educational experiences beyond the textbook. Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning provides a new and free alternative to traditional textbooks, making it an invaluable resource in our modern age of technology and advancement.”
    • Reviewer’s note: the version in LibreTexts may not be fully accessible; the images, in particular, are not correctly captioned and don’t have appropriate alt-text. There is a lovely PDF version available that Galileo labels as accessible, but I have my doubts. This textbook provides little of the chronological art history often provided in art appreciation courses, and so may best be paired with the following textbooks or resources from Smarthistory.
  • A World Perspective of Art Appreciation (Gustlin and Gustlin) (CC BY-NC-SA)
    • “An OER text to cover world art on a timeline from prehistoric to modern times with an emphasis on female artists.”
    • Reviewer’s note: this text focuses much more on a chronological, art historical approach than other texts that divide the course into thirds, with the first third covering visual elements and principles of design, the second third covering two- and three-dimensional media, and only the final third giving a brief overview of art history.
  • Art Appreciation (Christopher Gildow) (CC BY)

Surveys of Western Art I (Prehistory through the Middle Ages) (C-ID ARTH 110)

  • Introduction to Art History I: An OER Textbook for Survey of Western Art from Prehistory through the Middle Ages (Myers, Caldwell, Taylor, ) (ASCCC OERI, 2022) (CC BY-NC-SA)
    • This textbook, designed specifically for C-ID ARTH 110 and produced by a team of art historians working within the CCC system, curates Smarthistory and other scholarly resources into a coherent textbook by providing chapter introductions, a comprehensive glossary, and explanatory editors’ notes. Throughout, it acknowledges and explores the historiography of art history and brings in global connections to provide a broader, more diverse, and more inclusive survey of art history from the Paleolithic through Gothic periods.
  • Reframing Art History (Smarthistory) (CC-BY-NC-SA)
    • “Reframing Art History, an open-access multimedia art history ‘textbook,’ gives you a guided journey through the living, breathing, meaningful side of art history. We’re less concerned with names and dates than with meaning and movement. With chapters developed by a group of more than 40 experts, it showcases art and history from the bottom up.”
    • Reviewers’ note: this project is still in progress, with many of the individual chapters marked “coming soon” and scheduled for publication in upcoming phases of the project. Even still, it is a highly usable textbook alternative that provides new Smarthistory content to help introduce and structure existing resources.
  • Smarthistory Guide to AP® Art History, Volume 1 (Global Prehistory, Ancient Mediterranean) (CC BY-NC-SA)
  • Art History (Boundless) (License Varies)
    • Reviewer’s note: a very basic, somewhat outdated, text, based largely on Wikipedia and with some formatting and/or accessibility issues. May be helpful for filling small gaps in other resources.
  • SUNY’s Art History and Appreciation I (Lumen Learning) (License Varies)
    • “This courseware includes resources copyrighted and openly licensed by multiple individuals and organizations. Click the words ‘Licenses and Attributions’ at the bottom of each page for copyright and licensing information specific to the material on that page.”
    • Reviewer’s note: arguably the weakest of the full-text resources presented here, but may give a starting point for some resources
  • Sheila P. Lynch, ASCCC OERI ARTH 110—Glossary Project on Canvas (CC BY-NC 4.0)
    • “This glossary contains over 250 key terms and is illustrated with more than 100 images. A few of the key terms are repeated to give a different context to the term with each use. In such cases, a different illustration may be used, in keeping with the culture and time period under which the key term is listed. This resource can be used digitally, as a series of webpages (on Canvas, for example) or as a PDF of this entire glossary that is made available on certain platforms. As a series of webpages, the book is organized in modules. The PDF, when available, can also be printed into a hard copy of the entire glossary. The structure of this glossary follows art historical periods culturally. When viewing this glossary as a series of webpages, each of the topics listed under Table of Contents (see previous page) is contained on its own page. The length of each page varies a great deal due to the arbitrary “length” of a webpage. All image captions, as well as their attributions and licenses, are listed at the bottom of each page.”

Surveys of Western Art II (Renaissance through Contemporary) (C-ID ARTH 120)

Survey of Asian Art (ARTH 130)

Grateful thanks to Ellen C. Caldwell for helping to compile the following resources:

Art of Africa, Oceania, and Indigenous North Americas (ARTH 140)

  • Kathy Curnow, The Bright Continent: African Art History (CC BY-NC-SA)
    • “This book aims to act as your map through the world of African art. As such, it will help you define the competencies you need to develop–visual analysis, research, noting what information is critical, asking questions, and writing down your observations–and provide opportunities for you to practice these skills until you are proficient. It will also expose you to new art forms and the worlds that produced them, enriching your understanding and appreciation. This is an ongoing project. Your text will not be complete the day you first click on it, but will be written as we proceed through the course. Because it will be used for other courses beyond your own, you may find that it includes materials beyond those your class demands. Encourage your curiosity–chase after it.”
  • Angela L. Miller, Janet Catherine Berlo, Bryan J. Wolf, Jennifer L. Roberts, American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity (CC BY-NC-SA)
    • Reviewer’s note: the PDF version of this text appears to have been scanned from the print version, and thus isn’t accessible.

Art History Websites

  • Smarthistory (CC BY- NC-SA)
    • “At Smarthistory we believe art has the power to transform lives and to build understanding across cultures. We believe that the brilliant histories of art belong to everyone, no matter their background. Smarthistory’s free, award-winning digital content unlocks the expertise of hundreds of leading scholars, making the history of art accessible and engaging to more people, in more places, than any other publisher. We work hard to make our essays and videos engaging and accessible while retaining depth, nuance and analytic rigor.”
  • Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR) (CC BY-NC-4.0)
    • “A peer-populated platform for art history teachers. AHTR is home to a constantly evolving and collectively authored online repository of art history teaching content including, but not limited to, lesson plans, video introductions to museums, book reviews, image clusters, and classroom and museum activities. The site promotes discussion and reflection around new ways of teaching and learning in the art history classroom through a peer-populated blog, and fosters a collaborative virtual community for art history instructors at all career stages.”
  • Google Arts and Culture
    • “Google Arts & Culture is a non-profit initiative. We work with cultural institutions and artists around the world. Together, our mission is to preserve and bring the world’s art and culture online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere.”
    • Includes features and “stories” on sites, artists, and artworks; “museum explorer” with Streetview technology; and much more
  • ArtxHistory (CC BY-NC-4.0)
    • “ArtxHistory is an education resource of commonly available images, videos, mini-lectures and scholarship of the decades which influenced or defined the mid-century through contemporary art. Most links are concise in content, of prevalent works of art in the early or mature stage of an artist’s career, sourced from museum, academic, journalistic and for profit institutions. ArtxHistory is offered as an alternative to a textbook, relieving users of cost, as quality content online develops. The core intent of ArtxHistory is to offer an art history that replaces the dominant white, male, heteronormative, advantaged, celebrity narratives for a more inclusive history balanced with the work of women, artists of color, LGBTQIA+ persons, intersectional makers, and the self-taught.”
  • Obelisk (formerly Trivium/Art History Project)
    • Welcome to Obelisk, a place to explore the wildly diverse world of art history. Dive into 40,000 years of human creativity, discover artwork from around the world, and explore the stories of history’s most creative and inspiring people. Obelisk can be used as a textbook for art history or as a resource to support one. More than 100 universities and colleges around the world send students here to dig into the timeline of art and tackle basics like composition and history methodologies.

Museum Websites

Using an OER resource that is missing from the list above? If so, please let us know.

This page was last updated October 12, 2022.