The continued growth and expansion of AAA’s collection present an urgent need to develop effective ways to retrieve information. In response, we developed a controlled set of keywords to index collection material. The process began with a search for terms relevant to recent artistic practices and developments in Asia: an audit of over 3,000 accumulated terms used to tag the collection by our in-house cataloguers in the past 15 years. The list was reduced to around 200 terms, containing more essential and frequently used terms. The keywords were further enriched with common terms within the international contemporary art context with reference to various existing published works of thesauruses and keywords. Finally, various AAA advisors and practitioners in the field were invited to suggest locally circulated terms that describe styles, trends, and movements specific to countries in Asia.

AAA Keyword List

AAA’s preliminary list of keywords with 300+ terms is presented in the following interactive visualisation. To further develop the list, we invite your feedback to collaboratively supplement existing reference sources with knowledge on the multiple recent histories of art in the region. Please email us at with your thoughts. A more detailed version is downloadable here.

Click the nodes to open sub-sections and the keywords to retrieve related contents.


Thanks to the following individuals for their generous suggestions and comments (in alphabetical order): Murtha Baca, Pamela Corey, Iftikhar Dadi, Jane DeBevoise, Hyunjin Kim, Eileen Legaspi, Lesley Ma, Georgy Mamedov, Salwa Mikdadi, Mella Nindityo, Po Po, T. Shanaathanan, Nora Taylor, David Teh, Reiko Tomii, Phoebe Wong, Saubin Yap, Zhuang Wubin.

The interactive visualisation is inspired by: Lincoln, Matthew D. ‘Hierarchies of the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus.’ Matthew Lincoln (blog), 21 Feb 2014, (license of Creative Commons 3.0).