87338 - Art in Europe Between the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

After completing the course the student will have the theoretical and methodological tools and historical-critical need to understand the artistic phenomena in that crucial transition between the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as through the knowledge of the historical-social context in which artwork and artistic trends originated. In particular, the student is able to deal with critical awareness the study of evolution of artistic movements and the resulting changes of even languages.

Course contents

The course aims to provide an overview with adequate insights on the situation of the visual arts in Europe from the last two decades of the nineteenth century up to the first decade of the twentieth century, before the explosion of historical avant-gardes.
This turn of years is known as rather varied and complex in its typical declensions; however, the common reasons that seem to align largely with a general synthetic and anti-impressionist instance, based on widespread decorativism and on the growing importance of applied arts as an integral part of a broader aesthetic project, will be sought. However, such a pervasive aesthetic atmosphere is attentive to the reality of social changes that mark the passage of the century.
The label of Symbolism, which normally identifies this historical-artistic temperament, needs however further study to explain its most characteristic stylistic peculiarities and its iconographic purpose, through an analysis that clarifies aspects that at first sight are contradictory and often equivocal.
This artistic season will be investigated by referring to the typicality of national or better supranational situations, as manifested in the Franco-Belgian axis, in the Germanic-speaking countries, in boreal Europe and, of course, in Italy.


The obligatory book for all is:

Renato Barilli, Il Simbolismo, in L’arte moderna, Fabbri, Milano 1967.

(Since it is difficult to find on the market, see on the teacher's website how to get it.)

in addition, a text chosen from among the following books:

Renato Barilli (a cura di), Impressionismo in Europa. Non solo Francia, (cat. della mostra) Skira, Milano, 2001

Renato Barilli (a cura di), L’Espressionismo italiano, (cat. della mostra) Fabbri, 1990

Rossana Bossaglia, Il Liberty in Italia, (nuova edizione), Charta, Milano, 1997

Rossana Bossaglia, Il giglio, l’iris, la rosa, Sellerio, Palermo 1988

Anna Maria Damigella, La pittura simbolista in Italia 1885 – 1900, Einaudi, Torino 1981

Lara Vinca Masini, Il Liberty - Art Nouveau, Giunti, Firenze 2009

Le arti a Vienna: dalla secessione alla caduta dell’impero asburgico [Catalogo della mostra a Venezia, Palazzo Grassi 20 maggio-16 settembre - 41a Esposizione internazionale d’arte, La Biennale di Venezia] Venezia, La Biennale ; Milano, Mazzotta 1984

Maria Grazia Messina, Le muse d'oltremare. Esotismo e primitivismo dell'arte contemporanea, Einaudi, Torino 1994.

Marian Bisanz Prakken (a cura di), Gustave Klimt e le origini della Secessione viennese, Mazzotta, Milano, 1999


Giuseppe Virelli, Aubrey Beardsley. L'enfant terrible dell'Art nouveau, Minerva, Bologna 2018

Teaching methods

The method used involves the active partecipation of the students who are invited to speak during the lessons with observations. All this makes the lessons a chance to exchange views and debate.

Assessment methods

The test will consist of an oral examination in which the candidates will demonstrate that they have assimilated the content of the lesson, both in terms of fundamentals and in terms of references. Will be evaluated, as well as the degree of preparation, properties of language, knowledge of the authors which reference is made, the ability to build a speech critically aware. Training gaps, imprecise language, only rote learning will be evaluated negatively.

1. Those students who show developed analytical skills of selected readings and their correct contextualization within a complete vision of the issues discussed during lectures will be given a mark of excellence. Mastering of field-specific language and good expression during the examination will also be required (A =28-30 con lode).

2. Those students who show mnemonic knowledge of the subject and a superficial analysis of selected readings, as well as a correct but not always appropriate mastering of the field-specific language will be given a satisfactory mark (B = 25-27 and C = 23-24).

3. Those students who will show vague knowledge and superficial understanding of selected readings, limited analytical skills and a not always appropriate expression will be given a ‘pass’ mark roughly (D = 18-22).

4. Those students who show gaps in their knowledge and lack of familiarity with selected readings will not be given a ‘pass’ mark (E).

Teaching tools

The lectures will be supported by modern digital projection of images and the use of multimedia tools.

Office hours

See the website of Gian Luca Tusini