10362 - Phenomenology of Styles (1)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will:

- understand the concept of style, starting from the etymological root of the term;

- know the analytical and aesthetic-formal categories that contributed to the definition of the concept of style in the critical historical debate between the 19th and the 20th centuries in the field of visual arts;

- recognize the possible extensions of the concept of style in a wider media field.

Course contents

This course aims to provide the basic tools for understanding the fundamental concepts of science, culture (concepts of culture, style, symbol, homology, starting from the etymological root of the terms), to reach the phenomenology of styles, namely the analysis of the aesthetic-formal categories that contributed to its definition in the critical historical debate in the field of visual arts between the 19th and 20th century, referring to the thought of eminent historians of art. The hermeneutic tools will be clarified during the lectures and discussed considering not only the historically-artistic context, but also their possible extensions in a wider media field, being aware that there are no real cuts between a "high" sphere of the Image civilization and a more daily use, close to mass culture, as will be demonstrated by the vision of old and recent television documents.

Special attention will be paid to the analysis of the concept of Kunstwollen (Volition of Art), defined by Alois Riegl at the end of the nineteenth century, verifying its possible application in broader paradigms.

From time to time, they will be specified the categories in which to frame the phenomena of the art of the past and present, with special attention to the role that technology holds in the evolution of "life of forms".

In particular, they will be specified the aesthetic categories related to the concept of "technomorphism", reflecting the close symbolic relationship that links art to science and technology of all times.


Attendance is strongly recommended. Although the syllabus is the same for those non-attending, attending students are especially expected to study the lesson notes with the slides uploaded at the end of the course, as the texts for the exam preparation do not cover all the topics discussed during the course. The teacher is always available for clarification.

[Those who consider that they have insufficient background in History of Art are invited to supplement the preparation with any manual of History of Art used in high schools (at least for the period from mid-19th century to the present day) or with the text:. R. Barilli, Arte contemporanea. Da Cézanne alle ultime tendenze, Feltrinelli, Milano 2005)].

The books for the exam are two:

a) Renato Barilli R., Scienza della cultura e fenomenologia degli stili, Bononia Unversity Press, Bologna 2007

b) A text at your choice among the following:

Apollinaire G., I pittori cubisti. Meditazioni estetiche, Abscondita, Milano 2003

Barilli R, L'alba del Contemporaneo, Feltrinelli, Milano 1995

Barilli R., Arte e cultura materiale in Occidente, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 2011

Barilli R., Il Liberty, Sonzogno, Milano, 1992.

Barilli R., Tutto sul postmoderno, Guaraldi, Rimini 2013

Berenson B., L'arco di Costantino o della decadenza della forma, Abscondita, Milano 2007

Dado [Alessandro Ferri] Teoria del writing. La ricerca dello stile, ProfessionalDreamers, 2016

Fabbri F., Il buono, il brutto e il passivo, Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2011

Focillon H., Vita delle forme seguito da Elogio della mano, Einaudi, Torino 2002 (e successive)

Francastel P., Lo spazio figurativo dal Rinascimento al Cubismo, Mimesis, Milano 2005

Gombrich E., Arte e progresso, Laterza, Bari 2002

Kubler G., La forma del tempo, Einaudi, Torino 2002

Longhi R., Breve ma veridica storia della pittura italiana, Abscondita, Milano 2913

McLuhan M., Gli strumenti del comunicare, Il Saggiatore, Milano 2011

Panofsky E., Galileo critico delle arti, Abscondita, Milano 2008

Panofsky E., Il problema dello stile nelle arti figurative ed altri saggi, Abscondita, Milano 2016

Panofsky E., La prospettiva come forma simbolica, Feltrinelli, Milano 1984 (ma anche Abscondita, Milano 2013)

Panofsky E., Tre saggi sullo stile. Il barocco, il cinema e la Rolls-Royce, Abscondita, Milano 2011

Riegl A., Grammatica storica delle arti figurative, Quodlibet, Macerata 2008

Riegl A., Lo sguardo di Rembrandt, Castelvecchi, Roma 2014

Schapiro M., Lo stile, Donzelli, Roma, 1995

Tusini G. L. La pelle dell'ornamento, Bononia University Press, Bologna 2008

Tusini G. L., Il fronte della forma, Bononia University Press, Bologna 2005

Tzara T., Scoperta delle arti cosiddette primitive, Abscondita, Milano 2007

Wölfflin H., L'arte classica, Abscondita, Milano 2007

Wölfflin H., Psicologia dell'architettura, Et.al., Milano 2010

Wölfflin H., Rinascimento e barocco, Abscondita, Milano 2010

Wölfflin, H., Principi fondamentali di storia dell'arte, Abscondita, Milano 2012

Worringer W., Astrazione ed empatia, Einaudi, 2008

Teaching methods

Traditional: the teacher will always be present in the classroom designated for teaching, students will alternate in attendance according to a schedule of shifts being defined (more detailed information about the shift and how to access the lesson in attendance will be provided later, in case of sanitary problems). It will always be possible to connect remotely and follow live streaming of the lessons in the classroom via TEAMS platform.

The method applied involves the lively participation of students who are invited to take part in lectures with comments, suggestions, etc.

All this makes the lessons a continuous exchange between teacher and learners who expound their point of view, often as precious as free of preconceptions or consolidated notions.

Assessment methods

Students will be assessed through an oral examination (generally on three questions, but not in a strictly scholastic form, but preferably a discursive one) in which they will demonstrate to have assimilated the course contents both in terms of fundamentals and bibliographical references. Beyond the degree of preparation, they will be assessed considering the use of a specific language, the knowledge of the authors mentioned during the course, the ability to conduct a discussion from a critical point of view applying the acquired notions to the topics debated from time to time. It will be graded as insufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, inability to orientate within the disciplinary framework and a merely mnemonic repetition of the concepts read or acquired during the lectures without a proper and critical preparation. During the interview candidates are expected to articulate a clear, concise speech, avoiding, as far as possible, those infesting interjections spread by the mass-media.

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

Lectures will be integrated by the projection of digital images and the use of multimedia tools. Visits to exhibitions are not excluded

Office hours

See the website of Gian Luca Tusini