Visual Arts Extended Essay: The Complete Guide for IB Students

June 24, 2024

visual arts extended essay guide

An extended essay in visual arts allows you to conduct study in a particular area of visual arts that is of interest to you. The conclusion of the study should be a clear and structured piece of writing that tackles a topic or research question pertinent to the visual arts in an effective manner.  

The strongest EE in arts is the one that demonstrate a thoughtful selection of socially and culturally relevant topics, which frequently have a personal significance for the candidate in respect to his or her cultural identity, a potential university program, or present creative interests, such as studio work.

It is discouraged to rely solely on textbooks and the Internet, and no long essay in visual arts should rely solely on such sources.

You should only read your textbooks to the extent that they generate unique ideas, give models of disciplined, organized, and informed methods, and foster direct and personal engagement with the essay topic.

Choice of Arts Extended Essay Topic

When it comes to choosing a visual arts extended essay, we strongly recommend that you avoid themes that rely solely on summarizing generic secondary sources and those that are likely to result in an essay that is mostly narrative or descriptive in nature.

You must address a pertinent subject or research question and reach a specific, ideally individual, conclusion.

Choosing a topic that encompasses several areas of art history or a lengthy time span is likewise unlikely to result in a great essay. Restriction of the essay’s scope will help you to establish a clear focus and create opportunities for exhibiting in-depth comprehension and critical evaluation of your extended essay.

How Should You Treat Visual Arts Extended Essay Topic?

The topic you choose must have a clear and direct connection to visual arts. If the relationship is only tenuous, you risk introducing irrelevant material, which will confuse the investigation and undermine the case.

You should construct a research issue that is of personal interest and use a range of materials to support your claims, including textual analysis, the study of actual artworks or designed artifacts, and interviews with practitioners and subject-matter experts.

Questions that do not provide a systematic examination that exhibits critical creative analysis and in-depth comprehension are unlikely to be appropriate. In certain cases, it may become apparent early in the research process that there are insufficient sources to conduct such an examination. In such situations, consider a shift in emphasis.

In visual arts extended essays, the incorporation and discussion of pertinent visual reference material is of special relevance. However, such material must directly support and be relevant to the analysis/argument. It should be cleanly presented, appropriately acknowledged, and appear as near as feasible to the first reference in the body of the essay.

To stimulate personal investment in the extended essay, your work should include local and/or original sources wherever feasible. However, you may not have access to original materials in some circumstances. In such instances, high-quality replicas, movies and films, or photographs/Internet pictures are acceptable sources.

An argument should be well supported, with remarks and conclusions supported by evidence that is relevant and well-founded, as opposed to being based only on preconceived notions.

Visual Arts Extended Essay Topics Examples

Now that you know about the kind of topic you should choose for you visual arts extended essay, let’s consider some good and bad examples.

The worst example can be something like:

  1. The variation within human perception
  2. Architecture is functional art.
  3. Postmodernism
  4. Islamic architectural design

You want avoid these types of examples because they’re broad and therefore can’t fit within the scope of extended essay requirements.

You want to consider only the best topic for the project, particularly making sure you pick a subject that’s specific enough to form a research question that you can answer within the respective scope of the assignment.

Some of the best examples include but not limited to the following:

  1. What role did national themes have in the creative activity of Russian avant-garde artists associated with the Knave of Diamonds society?
  2. How did men and women’s clothes communicate National Socialist ideals?
  3. How does Yinka Shonibare’s work represent the evolving importance of African art in a global society?
  4. What are the origins of Romanesque architecture in Arles?
  5. Are there pop art elements in the design of Pakistani trucks?
  6. Titles for Protracted Essays
  7. Appropriateness of Picasso’s usage of the Mbangu mask in ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ in terms of cultural borrowing
  8. How does Ketna Patel’s work reflect the increasing influence of media culture on Asian cultures?
  9. How does Yinka Shonibare’s work represent the evolving significance of African art in a global society?
  10. How far did Andy Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series develop his interest in morbidity?
  11. How Jesse Trevino’s cultural experiences influenced his artwork
  12. How would one identify the crucial balance between design and function for four pedestrian bridges of the 21st century?
  13. In what way does Damien Hirst’s art tackle the themes of Life and Death? (2013)
  14. To what degree has Federation Square’s design proven successful?
  15. When does photojournalism become an art form?
  16. How does Fra Angelico’s picture of The Annunciation represent him in Renaissance Florence?

Tips for Writing a Visual Arts Extended Essay

You are supposed to assess critically the sources you consulted while writing the essay by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Which sources are essential to my ideas, beliefs, and assertions?
  • Which sources are irrelevant to the analysis?

For the research question, you can:

  • Utilize primary and secondary sources to develop and evaluate diverse perspectives.
  • Use these primary sources to explore and explain particular aspects of the visual arts, with emphasis on a particular aspect of the visual arts collecting and analyzing reproductions of artwork.

You must also exhibit an understanding of various topics associated with the studied work.

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the worth and limitations of the work you’re studying by analyzing its origin and function
  • Show a continuous high level of creative comprehension by addressing the study subject comprehensively and effectively.

Relevant findings from this analysis must feature in your argument, not to mention that you should carefully support the arguments.  

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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