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Versione italiana
Academic year
Comunicazione della cultura e delle arti
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives


At the end of the Course, students will be able to
- historically frame the main points of the History of Modern Art;
- recognise the specificity of figurative language also in relation to the role of the patron and the historical and social dynamics at the origin of artistic creation;
- describe, with command of language, the interpretative complexity and the historical and cultural relations of the works examined;
- apply what learnt during visits to cultural sites in the Emilian territory.


No prerequisites, other than the knowledge required for admission to the Course of Study.

Course programme

The Course will provide an introduction to the fundamentals of Art History in the Modern Age. Lessons will focus not only on the formal interpretation of works of art, but also on the historical and social dynamics behind artistic creation. We will examine the role of the patron in determining the specificity of the figurative language, from the choice of iconography to the materials and artistic techniques used. The understanding of the contexts of origin and the study of historical sources will be crucial tools to reconstruct the cultural complexity of the works of art and try to regain the gaze of the viewer of the time (the so-called “period eye”). This last element will be essential for a correct interpretation of the meaning of the works of art.
The first part of the course will also offer an in-depth study of the critical history of the texts recommended in the bibliography, true milestones in art-historical research in the second half of the twentieth century. Knowledge of the general lines of Modern Art History will also be acquired through the study of a handbook. In this way the student will be encouraged to apply autonomously the method applied during the lessons.

Didactic methods

Frontal lectures supported by PowerPoint slides, seminars held by international scholars, and visits to cultural sites in Emilia Romagna. Lessons will be recorded and available via Google Classroom.

Learning assessment procedures

A four-question oral examination that will last a maximum of twenty minutes. The exame will ascertain the critical understanding of the topics discussed during the course and in the reference bibliography. Particular attention will be paid to: the level of knowledge of the theoretical aspects; the independent judgement with which the student will be able to interpret the relationship between art and patronage; the command of language with which the student will be able to express the acquired knowledge and skills. The final grade will be expressed in thirtieths.

Reference texts

- Salvatore Settis, Tomaso Montanari, Arte. Una storia naturale e civile, Torino, Einaudi scuola, 2019: vol. 3, Dal Quattrocento alla Controriforma, and vol. 4, Dal Barocco all’Impressionismo, chs. 1-14, pp. 2-227; or the vol. 2 of the Edizione Blu, Dal Quattrocento al Rococò, printed in 2020. The student must agree with the teacher on the possible use of an alternative handbook.
- one of the following texts, according to the student’s choice:
-- Michael Baxandall, Pittura ed esperienze sociali nell’Italia del Quattrocento, edited by Maria Pia and Piergiorgio Dragone, Torino, Einaudi, 1978 (and subsequent reprints);
-- Salvatore Settis, Artisti e committenti fra Quattro e Cinquecento, afterword by Antonio Pinelli, Torino, Einaudi, 2010, pp. 1-114;
-- Rudolf Wittkower, Bernini. Lo scultore del Barocco romano, Milano, Electa, 1990;
-- Francis Haskell, Mecenati e pittori. L’arte e la società italiane nell’età barocca, edited by Tomaso Montanari, Torino, Einaudi, 2019, preface by the editor (pp. VII-XVII), preface by the author (pp. XIX-XXIV), and the first part of the volume dedicated to Rome (pp. 5-197). The text is also available in a paperback edition in the “Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi” series.

* The 6 CFU examination programme includes the handbook only.