02290 - History of Modern Art

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Drama, Art and Music Studies (cod. 5821)

    Also valid for First cycle degree programme (L) in Foreign Languages and Literature (cod. 0979)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student: knows the main events and crucial issues of the art, mainly Italian, from the fifteenth to the late eighteenth century; acquires the methodological tools for reading the artwork from a formal, stylistic, iconographic and technical point of view; connects artworks to the context of historical, social and cultural production; moves in the main issues and research lines of art; recognizes and comments on the works of the most representative artists of the various movements.

Course contents

The course is composed by two parts of six CFU each. Students enrolled in DAMS are required to prepare both parts (12 credits). Students enrolled in other courses are required to prepare the first part (6 credits) or both (9 credits). N.B. The syllabus is the same for attending and non-attending students.

First part (6 CFU) - Institutional part

History of art in Italy from the Renaissance to the Neoclassicism.

Second part (6 CFU) - Insights and reading exercises of the work of art

Some topics will be the focus of specific lectures (e.g. origin and development of artistic genres, history of women artists;…).

The lessons will start: Monday 29 January 2024

Class schedule

Monday, 9-11, Tuesday, 9-11, Wednesday, 9-11


1) First part (6 CFU):

1/a. It is requested to know the chapters of the textbook with reference to the period from the Renaissance to the Neoclassicism. The recommended texts are:

- Giuliano Briganti, Carlo Bertelli e Antonio Giuliano, Storia dell’arte italiana, Electa, Milano, 1986 (and later editions);

- Pierluigi De Vecchi, Elda Cerchiari, Arte nel tempo, Bompiani, Milano, 1991 (and later editions);

- Salvatore Settis, Tomaso Montanari, Arte. Una storia naturale e civile, Mondadori, Milano, 2019.

The choice of other textbooks should be arranged with the teacher.

1/b. Furthermore, it is requested to know from life two important artworks / monuments / museums / churches / palaces from the period the exam concerns directly and deeply with the aid of related readings.

2) Second part (6 CFU):

A book chosen among the following:

- Federico Zeri, La percezione visiva dell’Italia e degli italiani, Einaudi, Torino, 1976;

- Roberto Longhi, Fatti di Masolino e di Masaccio, 1948; new ed. Abscondita, Milano, 2014;

- Roberto Longhi, Officina ferrarese, 1934; new ed. Abscondita, Milano, 2019, with a text by Daniele Benati;

- Enrico Castelnuovo, L’Europa all’aprirsi del Cinquecento, Milano, Fabbri, 1966 (“I Maestri del Colore”, n. 262);

- Michael Baxandall, Pittura esperienze sociali nell’Italia del Quattrocento, Einaudi, Torino, 1978;

- Giovanni Romano, Verso la maniera moderna. Da Mantegna a Raffaello, in Storia dell’arte italiana, II, Dal Medioevo al Novecento, 6, Dal Cinquecento all’Ottocento, I. Cinquecento e Seicento, edited by Federico Zeri, Einaudi, Torino, 1981, pp. 5-85;

- André Chastel, Il Sacco di Roma (1527), Einaudi, Torino, 1983;

- Giuliano Briganti, La maniera italiana, Editori Riuniti, Roma, 1961; new ed. Sansoni, Firenze 1985;

- Antonio Pinelli, La bella maniera. Artisti del Cinquecento tra regola e licenza, Einaudi, Torino, 1993;

- John W. O’Malley, Il mistero della volta: gli affreschi di Michelangelo alla luce del pensiero teologico del Rinascimento, in La Cappella Sistina: i primi restauri; la scoperta del colore, edited by Marcella Boroli, Istituto Geografico De Agostini, Novara, 1986, pp. 92-148;

- Federico Zeri, Pittura e Controriforma. L’arte ‘senza tempo’ di Scipione da Gaeta, Einaudi, Torino, 1957 (and more recent editions);

- Silvia Ginzburg Carignani, La Galleria Farnese. Gli affreschi dei Carracci, Electa, Milano, 2008;

- Roberto Longhi, Studi caravaggeschi, 1935; new ed. Abscondita, Milano, 2017, with a premise by Mina Gregori;

- Francesco Arcangeli, Corpo, azione, sentimento, fantasia. Naturalismo ed espressionismo nella cultura artistica emiliano-bolognese: lezioni 1967-1970, ed. by Vanessa Pietrantonio, with an introduction by Vera Fortunati, Il mulino, Bologna 2015, 2 voll. (in part. vol. II, pp. 9-228);

- Cesare Gnudi, introductory essay to the exhibition catalogue L’ideale classico del Seicento in Italia e la pittura di paesaggio, Alfa, Bologna, 1962, pp. 3-37 (new ed. in Cesare Gnudi, L’ideale classico, Nuova Alfa Ed., Bologna, 1986, pp. 55-85);

- Giuliano Briganti, Pietro da Cortona, Sansoni, Firenze, 1962;

- Nicola Spinosa, Spazio infinito e decorazione barocca, in Storia dell’arte italiana, parte seconda Dal Medioevo al Novecento, edited by Federico Zeri, vol. 2, Dal Cinquecento all’Ottocento, I, Cinquecento e Seicento, Torino, Einaudi, 1981, pp. 280-343;

- Tomaso Montanari, Il Barocco, Einaudi, Torino, 2012;

- Francis Haskell, Mecenati e pittori. L’arte e la società italiane nell’età barocca, Sansoni, Firenze, 1966, 3.a ed., Allemandi, Torino, 2000;

- Robert Rosenblum, Trasformazioni nell’arte: iconografia e stile tra neoclassicismo e romanticismo, introduzione di Antonio Pinelli, NIS, Roma, 1984 (and more recent editions);

- Giuliano Briganti, I pittori dell’immaginario: arte e rivoluzione psicologica, Electa, Milano, 1977 (and more recent editions).

Other books, in relation to the particular interests of the candidates, may be agreed with the teacher.

This Bibliography is the same for students who attend or do not attend lectures. Some of the cited texts will be available in the “Teaching material” of the course.

Teaching methods

Frontal lectures with the help of image projection and tours guided by the teacher.

The teacher will always be present personally in the indicated classroom during this teaching activity.

Assessment methods

Students will be assessed in two ways:

- by means of a written text concerning the general context which will have the objective of testing the student's knowledge of the socio-artistic fabric with reference to the XV, XVI and XVIII centuries (preparation will be provided by the course lectures supplemented by coursebook study). This exam will involve the projection of ten images of artworks. Each image will be screened for 5 minutes during which the candidate must fill in a profile indicating the work's historical context and, if possible, the name of the artist. The candidate may repeat the test but a poor result will not prevent admission to the oral test, although it will count towards the final result.

- by means of an oral examination in which the candidate is required to engage in critical analysis based on the course reading.


The written test will be marked as follows:

- Correct image recognition (artist, subject, date, place of storage, short critical reading of its iconographic aspects, historical context and stylistic characteristics): on a scale of 1 to 3 points;

- Incorrect identification or failure to identify the image: zero points.

The pass mark is 18/30.

The written test counts for a third of the final mark (10/30).

The written exam can be sat whenever there is an oral exam session.

During the oral examination, students must demonstrate to have acquired a critical understanding of the topics discussed during the course and a critical knowledge of the recommended bibliography.

After completing the course students will:

• know the features of artwork in early modern period

• identify and analyse the most significant works

• develop personal reflections

• demonstrate a critical understanding of the various issues discussed

• use correct terminology

The achievement of a comprehensive vision of the issues, the possession of a specific language, the originality of the reflection as well as familiarity with artwork analysis tools will be evaluated with marks of excellence. Knowledge mostly mechanical or mnemonic of the matter, a capacity of synthesis and analysis articulated or not, a use of proper language but not always appropriate, as well as a school domain of the topics of the course will lead to fair valuations. Training gaps or use inappropriate language, as well as a lack of knowledge of the topics will lead to votes that will amount on the sufficiency threshold. Training gaps, inappropriate language, lack of orientation within the bibliography and inability to analyse will be evaluated negatively.

The assessment procedure is the same for students who attend or not lectures.

Teaching tools

Ppt images, which will be made available to the student at the end of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Irene Graziani