This guide is intended to help you research topics in art and art history, a field with a wide variety of library resources. Art research encompasses the study of painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, design, graphic arts, and intersects other subjects such as geography, anthropology, and mass media.
Using the tabs at the top of the Research Guide, navigate through the tabs to locate the specific type of resources you need including reference encyclopedias and dictionaries, books, journals and research databases, and web resources. Use the tab for Image Resources to find links to many online sources for images to use for study and research.
Hans Bellmer, The Hand Hat (from the book, Le Surréalisme), circa 1947. Image courtesy of ARTstor.
Whether you are an art major or filling a requirement, there is a high probability that writing a research paper on art and artists is in your future as a college student.
Find a good art related topic idea here. (Credit: SBU.edu)
The art world offers a range of ideas that you can gear towards your interests or a specific class, whether that means focusing on art history, specific artistic movements or even one or more famous artists.
Start with Questia
Questia is a great place to start when exploring research paper topics on art and artists. The online library contains many starting points for study in the art and architecture category. For instance you could explore specific categories such as:
Questia isn’t just a great resource when it comes to research paper topics, it also can help you actually write your research paper. The site offers many tools via the Writing Center, including help for finding a research paper topic, as well as tips on creating a good thesis statement and drafting an outline. For any sources you use through Questia, you can create a folder for your project where you can easily take notes, highlight pertinent sections and cite any sources.
Think about art history
Perhaps the most obvious area to explore for a research paper on art and artists is to examine art history, from an analysis of specific artistic movements or comparing/contrasting famous artists.
Is there a specific artistic movement that you have always been drawn to? That is a good place to begin your exploration of research paper topics. For instance, if you like the Impressionists, you could investigate the major artists that fall into this category. If you prefer to approach the topic from a different vantage point, you could evaluate The Women Impressionists as presented in the book by Russell T. Clement, Annick Houzé and Christiane Erbolato-Ramsey. The book provides insight into four of the movement’s primary female contributors—Mary Stevenson Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzales, and Marie Bracquemond—who were often overlooked by the art world until the 1970s when feminist art criticism began.
Another idea is to examine a movement or famous artists that you are less familiar with as a means to broaden your knowledge. If you have struggled to understand symbolism in art, you could investigate that topic on Questia to gain a better grasp of it.
The website, ItalianRenaissance.org, offers some basic areas to get you started:
1. Pick a single topic and do a book report style research paper.
2. Compare two or more topics within your paper.
3. Ask a question you do not know the answer to, and seek out the solution.
4. Consult with your professor for a topic (have a preference in mind before you select this option).
Want to learn more about artists? Check out Questia—particularly the section on the artistic styles and movements.
Are there specific artistic movements or famous artists that you’re interested in? Let us know in the comments.