10438 - History of Photography

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide a basic knowledge on the history of photography, either in its aesthetic or technical developments, from the origins up today. During the lessons, a special focus will be given to the relationships photography has settled with visual arts and cultural industry's applications as fashion, communication and advertising. At the end of the course students will be able to reflect upon the role that photography has offered either in artistic contemporary experiences or in different communicative applications.

Course contents

Photography in XIX century

1) Origins

2) Main Photographers

3) Photography vs Painting

4) Conceptual topics anticipation in XX century

Photography in XX century

1) Conceptual experimentations in Historic Vanguard

2) Experiences and applications during the Sixties and the Seventies

3) The last artistic generations


Non-attending students won't be required to have any different preparation from the attending ones.


F. Muzzarelli, L'invenzione del fotografico. Storia e idee della fotografia dell'Ottocento, Einaudi, 2014.
C. Marra, Fotografia e pittura nel Novecento (e oltre), Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2012.

In addition to these books, to pass the exam is required:

1) a knowledge of a collection of pictures by the most important artists of the history of photography. During the exam, students will have to identify images (it will be sufficient to know the author's name. Title and date isn't required). The picture's collection is online, divided in two parts. You can find it in “Materiale didattico. Insegnamenti online IOL”, at the top of this program's page.

2) a preparation of a photographic project on the theme:

I Remember…

Each single project will be realized with two images. The first should be a photograph that refers to the proposed theme. The theme can be freely interpreted, without limits.

Photography is an object able to keep our memory in a very special way. Our albums, our hard disk, are endless collections of facts, faces, emotions that have gone through our lives. But the photographic memory is not just about the past: every time we photograph we know that something will remain ..

The second image should contain a text comment referring to the proposed photograph, still composed in this personal, direct, travelogue… This absolutely excludes any mention from books, films or other sources.

The text should be edited and compliant to the following rules: black text on white background, max 140 characters, spaces included, Arial font, size 18, single space. Both images (photo and text) should be printed on photographic paper in an exact 10x10 cm format.

Once printed the images will be individually glued to a pressed cardboard (2/3 mm thick) or to the appropriate styrofoam board (of a similar thickness) easily found in copy shops, so that two 10x10 blocks can be made. Do not use corrugated cardboard with which boxes and other materials are often made of. The assembly must be “alive,” meaning the margin of the image should line up with the edge of the cardboard, without any frame. Attention must be paid to make the final image well laid out, lined up and without flaws.

The attention and the precision of the assembly (gluing, smoothing the image to the support, straight lines in cutting) will be subject to evaluation during the exam, together with aesthetic and conceptual aspects.

The project will be awarded with the following marks: 0 sufficient, 1 satisfactory, 2 good, 3 excellent. These marks will be added to those obtained through the exam (see Exams) to determine a final vote.

TWO PROJECTS ARE THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT (4 "tiles") that will all merge together in a large collective exhibit. The exhibit will be organized by the end of May 2018 therefore the only projects submitted during the exams before this date will be eligible. Projects must be brought to the examination in an envelope (at the time of the verbalization of the mark, after the written test will be taken). NO EXPLANATIONS OR CLARIFICATIONS ON THE PROJECT WILL BE GIVEN BY EMAIL, BUT IF NECESSARY MAY BE DISCUSSED DURING OFFICE HOURS.



Teaching methods

Lectures with Power Point support materials.

Assessment methods

The exam will be conducted in written form using multiple-choice computerized test (each question will envisage 4 suggested answers, among which the students will choose the correct one).The exam consists of 20 questions divided amongst all the chapters of the course books. Each correct answer corresponds to 1.5 mark. There is no penalty for wrong answers. The time available for the test is 40 minutes. The test result will be visible immediately after the end of the test. The test consists of historical questions related to the main points of the material illustrated in the texts (ex. "In which year was x movement founded?"). Then there may be various questions of "understanding the text," which are, for example, reports of excerpts from the books of the program, which ask for the meaning (ex.: "Which statement can be correctly derived from the following excerpt?"). Significant space is also given to poetic declarations and critical reflections in the texts for which the author's recognition is required (ex. "Who is the author of the following statement?"). Among the 20 questions of the test there will always be two images taken from didactic materials published online, of which students must know the author.

Marks obtained from the photographic project will be added to the final test vote.

To learn about the dates of the exams and to enroll in, use the online AlmaEsami website.

Teaching tools

Power Point

Office hours

See the website of Claudio Marra