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Extended Essay in Visual Art
Congratulations you are exploring the Extended Essay in Visual Art page! This means either you study Visual Art as part of your IB course or have come to your senses and realised the Visual Arts is the most interesting area of study! Well done! As Art practice is so diverse in the 21st century you will find it spans a huge range of possible concepts, approaches, cultures and content.
This page will give you a few ideas about the sort of Extended Essay you could do in Visual Art and how you might wish to proceed should you decide to do an Extended Essay in Visual Art .
What to study ?
An Extended Essay is a piece of research so you need to undertake a study of Visual Art that will allow you to do some research. Research should extend beyond the internet which means that you will need to be able to read some books or periodicals about your subject matter, and preferably gain some firsthand experience of the art or artist/s your essay concerns. This firsthand experience could be visiting an exhbition or gallery, contacting an artist, or an expert in the field of study realted to the subject of your essay. We need to avoid re-telling the history of Art and have an essay that requires genuine research and leads, hopefully to you gaining a personal insight into the area you have chosen. This starts with a good research question.
The chosen topic may be generated or inspired by direct experience of art work, craft work or design. This might be related to the student’s own culture or another culture. Personal contact with artists and/or designers is strongly encouraged, as is the use of local and/or primary sources.
Absolute reliance on reference books is discouraged. No extended essay in visual arts should be based exclusively on reference books. They should be consulted in so far as they may stimulate original ideas, provide models of disciplined, structured and informed approaches, and encourage direct and personal involvement with the subject of the essay.
It is essential that the topic chosen is clearly and directly related to visual arts. If the connection is only incidental, candidates risk introducing material which is of only marginal relevance, and which will confuse the enquiry and deflect the thrust of the argument.
Topics should not be too broad in scope. Candidates will find it helpful if they express the particular focus of their research in the form of a question which they attempt to address through their investigations and in writing. However, they might not necessarily wish to formulate the title as a question.
The following examples of titles for visual arts extended essays are intended as guidance only. The pairings illustrate that focused topics (indicated by the first title) should be encouraged rather than broad topics (indicated by the second title).
An analytical study of the cycle of frescoes of St Christopher’s Church in Milan
The history of Renaissance art.
How did Wassily Kandinsky use colour?
is better than
An investigation into mask-making in the Sepik River Basin, Papua New Guinea
An analysis of African influences on Henry Moore
is better than
What is the artistic significance of the totem poles of the native people of the Pacific
is better than
The art of native North American people.
Picasso: genius or cultural thief?
is better than
Greek revival architecture in a New England town
is better than
Kasimir Malevich: a study of the perception of power
is better than
The kimono: art form or tradition?
is better than
Japanese fashion: 1900 to 1990.
Klimt’s use of gold
is better than
Sezession in Berlin.
Robert Ntila’s etching techniques: a critical investigation
is better than
East African art.
A topic should be reconsidered if it lends itself to a narrative approach involving, for
example, an excess of biographical material, and/or is not directly related to visual arts.
2009 - 2010.
Amanda Chidekel, Kimberley Beumer and Alexandra Vernon wrote extended essays in concerning Visual Arts this year. Amanda investigated 'the Death of Venus' - concerned with how idealised female form was lost to the world of Fine Art. Kimberley wrote about Outsider Art, this came through her genuine curiosity about what outsider art is/was and what makes it designated so? Alex wrote about the role of War Artists with particular reference to John Keane as she was interested to investigate how much artistic and intellectual freedom such artists have when making work about contemporary conflict.
Their essay is in the Library so give it a read and see what you think about it. They are here in school for another six months so talk to them about their essays and see what advice they can give you about writing an Extended Essay in Visual Art.
IB Subject Report 2002
On the Ib website they include this advice on doing an Extended Essay in English. Please read it and think about what it says.
Treatment of the Topic
Candidates should be encouraged to formulate a research question of personal interest and draw on a variety of sources to support their arguments, such as textual analysis, study of original art works or designed artefacts, and interviews with practitioners or authorities on the subject. Candidates should be helped to identify and choose appropriate sources, both primary and secondary, and appropriate methods of research.
The inclusion of appropriate visual reference material is of particular importance in visual arts extended essays and is strongly encouraged. Such material must, however, be directly supportive of, and relevant to, the analysis/argument. It should be neatly presented, properly acknowledged where appropriate, and should appear in the body of the essay as close as possible to the first verbal reference.
It should be noted that IB visual arts includes components which require studio work and/or experimental studio research. The extended essay in visual arts has a different purpose, in that the focus should be clearly on a research question. The response to this question must be predominantly verbal, as distinct from visual.
In order to promote personal involvement in the extended essay the use of local and/or primary sources should be encouraged whenever possible. However it is appreciated that, in certain situations, candidates may not necessarily have access to primary sources. In such situations, in order not to restrict the topics which could be investigated, reproductions, videos, films or photographs of a high quality are considered acceptable sources.
The following may prove helpful in interpreting the manner in which the general assessment criteria will be applied to visual arts:
Criterion B: Approach to the research question
Do candidates need to work from primary sources of art works, or with craft works or design related to material culture? Possible sources are art exhibitions, artefacts, environments and, if the subject of the essay is photography, photographs, magazines, television and films.
What secondary sources do candidates use
photographs, books, catalogues, critical commentaries, journal articles, magazines, films, television?
How do candidates collect and document evidence? What systems do they use?
Criterion C: Analysis/interpretation
What techniques do candidates use to help them analyse, interpret and appraise the ideas and material they have collected?
How do candidates make comparisons with examples of similar work? What criteria do they use for judgement?
What kinds of interpretation are used
historical, psychological, sociological, technical?
Criterion D: Argument/evaluation
Some candidates do not always find it easy to disentangle discussion and argument. Weaker candidates often present a descriptive account, include little discussion and offer no argument.
They may amass data indiscriminately, whereas better writers present material in an ordered form, subordinating some elements to bring out significant points and submitting it to rigorous analysis. Good essays are those which have something interesting to communicate, those where there is evidence of original thought and where candidates are able to substantiate their ideas and opinions. The best essays are those where candidates also manage to write in an elegant or convincing manner.
This criterion concerns the way candidates use visual material and examples selectively to
illustrate and support the points they make. Are these chosen from a variety of sources?
How do candidates develop an argument through reference to the thinking of others? How do they formulate and express their own views?
Candidates might find it helpful to compare the views of artists and designers with those of critics and others to help them clarify their own thinking. They will find it useful to compare and evaluate contrasting or conflicting views to help structure their argument. They must be able to explain and justify their opinions.
Criterion E: Conclusion
Are candidates able to reflect on the evidence they have selected and presented? What conclusions have they drawn? Is this substantiated by the evidence? Sometimes, conclusions can seem rather perfunctory, and even preconceived, rather than developed from the research.
Personal point of view based on thorough knowledge of the visual arts aspects of the chosen topic
The candidate demonstrates no satisfactory knowledge or understanding of the visual arts aspects of the topic.
The candidate demonstrates some knowledge of the visual arts aspects of the topic but does not attempt to express a personal view.
The candidate demonstrates a satisfactory knowledge of the visual arts aspects of the topic and indicates a personal point of view.
The candidate demonstrates a satisfactory knowledge of the visual arts aspects of the topic and makes an attempt to illustrate and justify a personal point of view.
The candidate demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the visual arts aspects of the topic, and illustrates and fully justifies a personal point of view.
Use of appropriate sources
There is no evidence of the use of any appropriate sources.
There is little evidence of the use of appropriate sources and these are ineffectively used.
There is evidence of the use of appropriate sources but these are not always used effectively.
There is evidence of the effective use of a considered selection of appropriate sources.
There is strong evidence of the highly effective use of an original and considered selection of appropriate sources.
Historical/socio-cultural context of the argument/evaluation
The argument/evaluation is not placed in its historical/socio-cultural context.
The argument/evaluation is very loosely placed in its historical/socio-cultural context with little attempt at analysis. Very few of the relevant links have been noted.
The argument/evaluation is loosely placed in its historical/socio-cultural context. The context has been analysed superficially. Some of the relevant links have been noted.
The argument/evaluation is generally placed in its historical/socio-cultural context. The context has been analysed with some care. Some of the relevant links have been adequately explored.
The argument/evaluation is directly and clearly placed in its historical/socio-cultural context. The context has been carefully, critically and systematically analysed. Most relevant links have been thoroughly explored.
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