Women Artists on Disc. Thorndike, Maine: Macmillan Reference, 2000. Price: $995 (ISBN 0-7838-0090-8). www.mlr.com.
Requirements: IBM PC or compatible (386 or higher recommended); 4 MB RAM for Windows 3.1, 8 MB RAM for Windows 95; CD-ROM Drive and drivers; MSDOS Extensions 2.0 or higher. Optional: printer.
This CD-ROM is the electronic version of four standard print reference books published by Macmillan/ G. K. Hall: Chris Petteys's The Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900 (G. K. Hall, 1985), Paula Chiarmonte's Women Artists in the United States: A Selective Bibliography and Resource Guide in the Fine and Decorative Arts, 1750-1986 (G. K. Hall, 1990), Penny McCracken's Women Artists and Designers in Europe Since 1800: An Annotated Bibliography (G. K. Hall, 1998), and Cassandra Langer's Feminist Art Criticism: An Annotated Bibliography (Macmillan, 1994).
Of these four titles, Petteys and Chiarmonte's books are probably most often found in reference collections. Petteys's biographical dictionary covers over twenty thousand artists, from antiquity to the twentieth century. Her book itself is compiled from such august sources as Benezit, and is an excellent source of obscure artists. A new print edition, the first since its original publication in 1985, is expected in 2001. (Updates and other titles are planned for future releases of the disc.) Chiarmonte's bibliographic references to more than three thousand American women artists is wide-ranging, including artists in the minor arts and in crafts, and indexes nearly four thousand sources.
McCracken and Langer's works, on the other hand, are more valuable for scope (McCracken includes even garden designers) and alternative criticism (Langer, lesbian and feminist views) than for biographical detail.
The combined number of artists discussed on the disc is about thirty thousand. The scope is impressive, for both U.S. and international artists.
Two bibliographies, the "Basic Bibliography" and the "Artists" bibliography can be searched by keywords listed in indexes below the search window. In the Basic Bibliography, the indexes are author, title, periodical, Petteys's reference key, medium, annotation keyword, material type, source (one of the four titles making up the disc), or keyword. The annotation keyword index allows the user to limit keyword searches to that portion of the artists records. The keyword index searches the entire record.
The indexes in the Artists' bibliography are artist, biography keyword, publications keyword, studies keyword, exhibitions keyword, references keyword, source, and keyword. Again, the user may search by keywords in the whole record or limit the search to a portion of the record. …