Tate Library Item

Situationist Times, published by Jacqueline de Jong. Photo: Matt Greenwood

Located in Tate Britain, Tate Library holds a collection of books, exhibition catalogues and rare items relating to British art and artists from the 1500s onwards, and international art from c.1900.

This includes over 250,000 books and monographs, a collection of recent and historic exhibition catalogues, over 6,500 artist books and zines, artist serials, printed journals, documentary audio and video recordings, as well as microfilm and microfiche collections, c.a. half a million press cuttings, and printed ephemera relating to artists.

Tate Library is free to use and open to everyone aged 18 or over. To make access arrangements for those aged under 18, please contact reading.rooms@tate.org.uk or call +44 (0)20 7887 8838.

Access Library Collections


Exhibition Catalogues

Tate Library’s 150,000 exhibition catalogues comprise the core of the Library’s collection.

The Library has a renowned collection of exhibition and collection catalogues dating from early Royal Academy exhibitions to the latest contemporary shows.

The collection is especially strong on international modern art, with the greatest focus on post-war European and American art. It includes catalogues of artists’ exhibitions, group shows, permanent and private collections.

Many rare items are included in the collection, documenting the development of an exhibition culture in the UK and abroad. The collection is an essential resource for research on artists, in particular the early careers of major British and international artists.


Francis Bacon: catalogue raisonné / Martin Harrison, London: The estate of Francis Bacon, 2016, 5 volume set

Francis Bacon: catalogue raisonné / Martin Harrison, London: The estate of Francis Bacon, 2016, 5 volume set. Photo: Matt Greenwood

Our Library also holds a comprehensive range of art monographs including books on artists, and titles relating to aesthetics, art theory, art history, artistic practice, and museology. This includes a wide selection of critical and cultural theory, catalogue raisonnés, and representative surveys of artists and art movements.

Audio-Visual material

We hold a range of DVDs, CDs, VHS videos, microfiche, microfilm, including documentary and audio and video recordings of historical Tate events and interviews with artists.

Please note that the microfilm and microfiche collections are not fully indexed on the online catalogue. Please contact us if you have any queries on this collection reading.rooms@tate.org.uk

A card for a 1963 David Hockney exhibition

David Hockney: pictures with people in, 1963

Press cuttings

The Library holds around half a million press cuttings, collected mainly from British newspapers, weeklies and magazines from the 1960s onward. These press cuttings document exhibitions, individual artists, art related news events, and Tate activity.

Although cuttings are not individually indexed, a general record (headed ‘Press Cuttings’) appears on the Library catalogue where there is a substantial amount of material on an artist or theme. You can search for these by entering 'Press Cuttings' in the title field and the artist's name in the words/phrase field of the Library catalogue search.

Artist's ephemera

Milch: Lawren Maben and Nils Norman, Guilford St 1990

Tim Hawkinson: how man is knit, Pace Wildenstein, 2007

Action in London, Café Jazz Hott, 1961David Hockney: Caribean tea time, 1987

Photo: Matt Greenwood

Printed ephemera

The Library’s printed ephemera collections include a range of private view invitations, artists’ CVs, flyers, small posters, and other ephemera. Ephemera is collected for individual artist exhibitions as well as group exhibitions held in London.

Although items are not individually indexed, a general record (headed ‘Ephemera’) appears on the Library catalogue where there is a substantial amount of material on an artist. You can search for these by entering 'ephemera' in the title field and the artist's name in the words/phrase field of the Library catalogue search.

Special Collections

The observers book of butterflies by Andrew Malone, artists book self-published by Andrey Malone 2010

The observers book of butterflies by Andy Malone, artists book self-published by Andy Malone 2010. Photo: Matt Greenwood

Tate Library’s Special Collections are comprised of rare, valuable, fragile books and catalogues, well as artist books and zines, artist serials, and discrete collections.

Special Collection materials are accessible by appointment. Appointments must be booked in advance by emailing reading.rooms@tate.org.uk

Artist books and zines

Display of artists’ books and zines

Display of artist books and zines, including:

Sinister Structures by Julie Dodd, artist book self published by Julie Dodd 2013,

Alphabeta concertina by Ron King, artist book published by Circle Press 2007

Take a deep breath: English pronunciation by Sari, artist book self-published by Sari 1999

Future Fantasteek! Issues 4-6 by Jackie Batey, zine published by Jackie Batey 2008/9

Niki Zine : deliverance at last #1, zine published by Schunck, Heerlen, 2001

Photo: Matt Greenwood

Tate Library holds a collection of approximately 6,500 artist books dating from the 1960s onwards.

These materials are international in scope and although it historically places an emphasis on British artists, it has expanded to include artist books from a range of geographic regions, specifically Latin America, Asia, and African countries.

The collection is formed around the following broad definition:

'A book (i.e. normally a number of pages attached to each other in some way) wholly, or primarily conceived by (though not necessarily actually made/printed by) an artist, and usually produced in a cheap, multiple edition for wide dissemination.'

The books range in format and structure, and include flip books, tunnel books, concertina books, and books made from single sheets of paper. Some books are even made from materials other than paper, such as brick, vinyl, or fabric.

From 2014, the artist books collections expanded to include zines. Zines are self-published documents with a history rooted in diy cultures and methods of production, created as an alternative to mainstream publishing. Tate collects zines which explore self-publishing in relation to art. This includes many different types of zines which are visual by nature such as perzines, art zines, photo zines, and fanzines which feature collage, illustration, and photography.

In 2012 Tate, together with The British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the University of the Arts London, took part in ‘Transforming Artist Books’, a research network exploring digital transformations in the creation and reception of artists’ books. As part of the project, Tate compiled descriptive texts about works in the collection. Some of the texts contain artist-generated information and all have suggestions for further reading, as well as new photographs of the books. These, as well as workshop reflections, can be found on Tate website. The final report about ‘Transforming Artist Books’ is also available online.

Artist serials

Display of artist serials

Display of artist serials including Aspen Magazine (Vol 1 no 3 Dec 1966 cover designed by Andy Warhol) published by Phyllis Johnson 1965-1971. Photo: Matt Greenwood

Tate Library holds approximately 250 individual artist's serial titles in the Special Collections. Artists' Serials are similar to artists' books and zines in scope, and also share similarities with serials in the Library's main collection as they loosely emulate the format of magazines and other types of serial publications.

The Library defines Artists' Serials as independent publications created by artists which explore the format of serial publishing as an extension of their artistic practice.

The collection of Artists' Serials is international in scope, although has historically focused on British and European titles. The collection includes key publications such as Aspen, Situationist Times, Spur, Centrefold, Assembling Box, and Engaged.

Beau Geste Press

Inside spread of Japanese Schmuck, no. 8 1976, edited by Taii Ashizawa, Takehisa Kosugi and David Mayor. Published by Beau Geste Press and CAPC, Bordeaux

Inside spread of Japanese Schmuck, no. 8 1976, edited by Taii Ashizawa, Takehisa Kosugi and David Mayor. Published by Beau Geste Press and CAPC, Bordeaux. Photo: Matt Greenwood

The Beau Geste Press was founded in Devon in 1970 by Felipe Ehrenberg, Martha Hellion, David Mayor, Chris Welch and Madeleine Gallard. The Library holds approximately 150 titles from the output of the Beau Geste Press, and 65 titles from the Beau and Aloes Arc Association. The collection was acquired directly from David Mayor in 1980 and uses Mayor’s original inventory as the basis of its organisation. This collection’s importance lies in its documentation of a group that specialised in producing limited-edition artist books, publishing the work of its own members, but also that of many of their colleagues worldwide.

The David King Collection

The unique collection of David King spans the tumultuous period in Soviet history from the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 to the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. It was meticulously assembled over four decades by the collector and was acquired by Tate in 2016. Tate Library holds c.a. 2,400 volumes of rare books, 500 serials, and pamphlets from the David King collection. Amongst these holdings are a complete run of the famous Soviet propaganda publication ‘USSR in Construction’, which was published monthly from January 1930 until May 1941 and features ground-breaking designs by seminal figures of the Russian avant-garde such as El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko.

It also includes art work and archival material that forms a vivid visual history of this period which are held in Tate’s main collection and in Tate Archive.

Martin Parr Collection

The Martin Parr Photobook Collection is a new library acquisition consisting of over 12,000 titles, and spans a diverse range of time periods, geographical locations, subjects, styles, formats and uses. It comprises many of the most iconic volumes in the history of photography, as well as unparalleled holdings of work by amateur or anonymous photographers.

Over the course of the last 25 years, Martin Parr has built what is often considered the most comprehensive and prolific collection of its kind. Collection highlights include rare photobooks from Japan, China, Europe, Latin America, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Panchayat Collection

'Crossing Black Waters’ publication from the Panchayat collection

'Crossing Black Waters’ publication from the Panchayat collection

The Panchayat collection contains ephemera research material illustrating an important link between modern art and activism. Panchayat was founded in 1988 by Bhajan Hunjan, Shaheen Merali, Symrath Patti, Allan de Souza and Shanti Thomas to promote the work of South Asian artists in the United Kingdom and internationally.

Panchayat was first imagined by the group as a project based arts organisation whose focus was to create an archive of work by contemporary artists who would produce issue-based work and work in multicultural environments. As the organisation developed it was involved in publishing, conferences, exhibitions and workshops.

Panchayat’s collection includes books, exhibition catalogues, information files, journals, slides and videos. In 2015, Shaheen Merali and Dr. Janice Cheddie, the keepers of the Panchayat Collection, agreed to the transfer of the material of the Panchayat Collection to the Tate Library, Special Collections. The collection was transferred from the University of Westminster Library to Tate Library in May 2015 as a gift and since then has attracted researchers from both the arts and the humanities to our collections, including a newer audience interested in diasporic connections and in the role of women of colour in the visual arts.

Journals and e-resources

An array of Tate Library Journals

Table display of print journals including Apollo Magazine, Art Monthly, Aperture, C Photo, NKA, Third Text. Photo: Matt Greenwood

Tate Library's journal collection consists of around 2,500 individual journal titles. The print journals collection includes art periodicals, academic journals, newsletters, bulletins, magazines, and other serials. A small selection of current journal titles are displayed and available to browse inside the reading rooms.

The Library’s print journal collection focuses on British and International art, conservation, museology, curatorship and art education. The full list of print journal titles including holdings information can be searched using the “Journal title” search of Tate Library Catalogue.

The library also provides access to electronic journals and online articles in the reading rooms via the public PCs. These include articles from Art Full Text and JSTOR which are not only art-focused but also include broader subjects such as history, sociology, and contemporary culture.

Tate Publications

Fahrelnissa Zeid, London:Tate, 2017, Conceptual Art in Britain, London: Tate, 2016

Fahrelnissa Zeid, London:Tate, 2017, Conceptual Art in Britain, London: Tate, 2016. Photo: Matt Greenwood

Tate Publications are held in the Library collection, and contain information about the institution, its history, buildings, activities and collection.

Tate Publications in the library include documentation and published guides to the collection since 1897, catalogues for Tate exhibitions from 1911 to the present, monographs published by Tate publishing, annual and biennial reports, catalogues of acquisitions, and histories of the gallery.

Many Tate exhibition catalogues from 1911 to the present as well as other works published by Tate Publishing are available to browse in the Reading Rooms without needing to request. Unique items are held in the Library’s Special Collections.