1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
For excellent background information on specific artists or topics related to art, start with Oxford Art Online, where you can look up artists, movements, etc. Oxford Art Online is a scholarly encyclopedia of art.
To get background information on a particular issue try searching In a multi-disciplined reference database such as Gale Virtual Reference. You can also find print specialized encyclopedias for a variety of topics by first searching the library catalog for call numbers, or asking at the help desk for the discipline.
2. FIND IMAGES
To identify works from different centuries browse in one of the image databases to locate images from a specific time period, subject, or artist. Start with with keywords for topic, style, time period, etc. Ex: propaganda, You can also browse selected books in the Humanities Reference area (level 5, by the Help Desk), or search for art books by century, country, medium, or themes (ex. "art and war" or "war in art" as subject keywords) in ScholarSearch.
3. FIND BOOKS (LIBRARY CATALOG)
For books about specific centuries, movements, medium, countries, or social issues, search by keyword in ScholarSearch.
Ex: painting AND French AND 18th century
For books about the history and social or political aspects of a certain time period, search ScholarSearch by keyword.
Ex.: Vietnam War AND social aspects
4. FIND ARTICLES