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Selecting an Essay Topic for Art Class

The key to selecting a topic to write art class essay is to start with an idea. Maybe, as you were listening to a lecture, a thought popped into your head. Perhaps, as you were reading your text, you came up with a question that never really got resolved. Possibly, you've even gotten into an argument with one of your fellow classmates (or better yet - your instructor!) about some aspect of an art movement. Perfect! Those are all excellent ideas for art class essays.

Pick something that you're passionate about, and take it from there. Narrow it down into a more specific point, and see if you can come up with a thesis statement that you can cover in the space of an essay. The great thing about art is that as long as you can back up your points with relevant information, you should be able to make a good case.

Below are some ideas to get you thinking about the kinds of topics appropriate for art class essays:

Discuss the development of Baroque art in Rome in the 1600s

The intense and exaggerated style of Baroque art lent to its popularity during the time when the Roman Catholic Church was very influential in the arts. What characteristics of the style do you think make it particularly effective for conveying religious themes? What were some of the driving forces for the development of Baroque art? (keep in mind that many Roman artists competed for commissions.) How did the painting, sculpture, architecture, etc. evolve into less dramatic stages during the 1700s?

Provide a timeline of important events for photographic art

Pinhole cameras were first described in literature dating to the fourth century, with the first "traditional" photographs coming into popularity during the early nineteenth century. Highlight the major developments (e.g., the evolution from monochrome to color to digital, etc.) in photography. What are some of the important aesthetic differences (and/or similarities) in art and documentary photography? How do you think digital cameras and personal computer photography software have affected the way that audiences view and interpret the value of the medium?

Argue the importance of Andy Warhol as a pop artist

Celebrated and controversial, Andy Warhol's works were some of the most expensive paintings ever sold. Discuss some of the concepts he explored (for example, celebrity and advertising culture), and describe some of the criticisms and/or praises for such works. As Warhol's work progressed from the 1950s through the 1980s, how did it evolve, and what were the reactions to it? Does the realistic presentation of everyday objects and famous people constitute art? Why (or why not)?

Discuss the significance of early cave paintings as art

Prehistoric paintings found on cave walls and ceilings in Spain go back as far as 40,000 years. Theories are that these paintings served different purposes, including decorations, a means to communicate, and religious/ceremonial functions. What are some of the themes and patterns of the early cave art? What animals and scenes were commonly depicted, and what were the materials that people used? What can they tell us about the natural world of the time? How can these cave paintings give us a glimpse into the culture and beliefs of the ancient world?

Analyze the Taj Mahal as an example of architectural art

Seen by some as a true labor of love, the Taj Mahal was built over the course of 20 years, supposedly as a monument to the emperor's wife. Others say that its purpose is the show grandeur for the simple sake of showing off grandeur. Discuss some of the important architectural aspects, such as its use of symmetry, domes and minarets, white marble, delicate floral patterns, etc., that lend beauty to the Taj Mahal. What elements of Persian and Mughal architecture does the structure incorporate? Why do you think it is considered the "jewel of Muslim art in India"?

Examine the Italian Renaissance through the sculptures of Michelangelo

A renewed interest in Greco-Roman classical culture brought big changes to the arts between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Sculptures reflected classical characteristics and subject matter. How did Michelangelo's David, for example, serve as an example of the classic Greek nude standing victorious in battle? How did it depart from earlier sculptures that depicted of the story of David and Goliath? Describe the size, stance, pose, posture, and anatomy, and discuss some of the interpretations about Michelangelo's styling using the elements of art.

Argue that graffiti is (or is not) a genuine form of artistic expression

If Leonardo da Vinci had without permission painted one of his works across his neighbor's roof, would that be graffiti? Does the legality of a form of expression make it any less worthy as an art form? Graffiti has been around for a long period of time. The graffiti artist looks at is as art. Many people view it as art. Like many kinds of art, some of it is hard to understand, while some is beautiful and symbolic. Do these criteria mean that it is in fact art? Who defines what art is? What is the definition of art?

Discuss European art cubist and avant-garde art

Often considered one of the most important and influential art forms of past century, cubism utilizes three-dimensional and abstract viewpoints to "break apart" and "reassemble" the subject matter. Why do you think pushing boundaries and perceptions is important for art movements? How did foreign cultures and art affect artist like Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso? How did other art forms, such as architecture and literature, incorporate elements of cubism (such as the use of three-dimensional shapes and repetition)?

Describe art deco as a symbol of the Machine Age

First appearing in France in the 1920s, the popularity of art deco quickly spread on an international level until it became less popular after the Second World War. What were the economic and social conditions of the times that lent to the spread of such an art movement? What characteristics (bold geometric shapes, use of technology, lavish ornamentation) make it suited for symbolizing glamour and luxury?

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