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Art History Research Paper Topics for Undergraduate Students

Just like any well written piece of literary work, art history can undertake the same process when it comes to develop a well thought out and well researched written piece of information and/or essay. When it comes to art however, different approaches toward a research topic exist. Examining a piece of artwork should include a formal analysis of the time frame the piece was painted or sculpted in, comparing it to similar piece of art in the same time period or throughout history and it should discuss the work of the artist or sculptor. Some examples of piece of art history to write a research topic on are as follows:

  • Paintings
  • Sculptures
  • Architecture
  • Photography
  • Artistic Comparative Analysis


Walk into any museum and plastered all around the walls will be paintings from many historical periods, different country’s Renaissance movements and of all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Famous pieces such as the Mona Lisa inside of the Louvre in Paris, France or a Frida Kahlo self-portrait are some of the most famous pieces an art history student can conduct a research paper on.


David, located in a small museum is not only a site to see, but also breathtaking to be standing so close to such a significant piece of history. In Washington, D.C. one might take notice at the large sculpture of Abraham Lincoln in the National Mall. Another famous piece in Washington, D.C. is the Iwo Jima War Memorial that keeps the flag flying just outside the nation’s capital as a tribute to the men that raised the flag in Japan during World War II. Crafted of clay, stone, bronze or any other number of materials, sculptures shows the specific craftsmanship of working with one’s hands.


When someone walks down the street in any large of small metropolis or town, buildings of all shapes, sizes and colors surround them. In Barcelona, one can notice the birth of Christ on the side facing the sunrise with his crucifixion in line with the sunset when they look at the gorgeously breathtaking view of Sagrada Familia. Antonio Gaudi’s architectural works span through the city of Barcelona as beautiful sites to see. Other piece of stunning architecture include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London, The Empire State Building in New York City and the Great Wall of China in Beijing. No one needs to go to a museum to see such people art pieces as these.


Moments in history are documented by brush, by hand and most importantly by the human eye. Photography allows for not only the documentation of history such as the unknown man refusing to move for the tanks in Tiananmen Square, but allows for the reproduction in other artistic mediums to happen further down the line. The eye can snap a moment in time never to be forgotten.

Artistic Comparative Analysis

As always, one can compare the artist in the earliest stages of their work to their passing or compare them to another artist. When it comes to art history, the possibilities of research are endless, but unlike a historical story, they are cemented as pieces in time.

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