HISTORY OF ART CRITICISM
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students, according to the Dublin Descriptors for the Bachelor's degree (First cycle - European Qualification Framework Level 6), with adequate knowledge and understanding of Museum as an institution (i.e. its meaning, its social role, its essential functions: conservative, scientific, didactic) through the history of collecting (1° Descriptor).
At the end of the course, the student must be able to:
- demonstrate, by applying knowledge and understanding, to be professionally able to solve through the creation of arguments, different kinds of issues relating to the museology practice (2° Descriptor);
- have the ability to independently collect and understand the sources for history of collecting and history of museums, in Italy and abroad, including the consideration on connected social, scientific or ethic issues (3° Descriptor);
- communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions in the field of museology and on cultural and artistic heritage valorization and conservation strategies to both specialist and non-specialist audiences (4° Descriptor);
- improve the learning skills that are necessary to continue undertaking further study with a high degree of autonomy in the field of cultural and, more specific, artistic heritage (5° Descriptor).
The threshold learning minimum outcomes are the student's ability to recognize different kinds of collections and museums, in Italy and abroad, by applying the knowledge of their origins and characters with attention to different historical and cultural contexts.
Course contents summary
The course aims to provide students with the basic knowledge by applying an historical approach to the Museum, from its origins to its more contemporary forms, through the history of collecting.
The Introduction - Part One will introduce to the some key moments of this history: from the first forms of museum (as studioli, Wunderkammer, galleries) through the great princely collections and Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century quadrerie, to the Enlightenment museums, to attain at the museographic solutions of the Twentieth Century, the museum as landmark and the challenges of the Twenty-First Century.Some space will devoted to unusual or new museums (house museums, etnographic museums, ecomuseums, corporate museums), and to the functions of museum (purchase, conservation, research, communication and display), after a brief introduction on the history of the protection of cultural and artistic heritage in Italy.
The Single Subject course - Part Two is dedicated to a fascinating but unexplored aspect of the history of collecting: the travels of works of art. From the ancient world until today the 'movable' condition of works of art made them actors of famous thefts, adventurous journeys, but also of miraculous rescues from war looting, thanks to absurd solutions and the invention of strategies, packagings, exceptional transports and insurance policies. Through a serie of case studies (from the Horses of St Mark's Basilica to the Van der Goes' Portinari Triptych; from the Titian's Assunta to the Van Eyck Ghent Altarpiece; from Napoleon looted art to the Canova rescues; from the nazi to the art exhibitions) the Single Subject Course will present the occasions and the conditions of travel of artistic heritage, a fundamental aspect in the history of works of art provenance, their ideological, diplomatic and political use and their protection.
Introduction - Part One
Four steps in the history of museum
- From studiolo to the princely collections;
- The Enlightenment museums;
- Napoleon looted art and the birth of Louvre Museum;
- From Nineteenth Century to the present;
- Unusual Museums: some case studies;
- Museums today and their functions.
Single Subject course - Part Two
Traveling pictures. A moving history of art
- The travels of works of art: an introduction;
- Case studies.
- A DIGITAL DOSSIER: Powerpoint slideshows containing images and sources shown during frontal lessons (available at the end of the course);
- THE MUSEOLOGY TEXTBOOK: M.T. Fiorio, Il museo nella storia. Dallo "studiolo" alla raccolta pubblica, Milano, Mondadori, 2011;
- THE HISTORY OF COLLECTION TEXTBOOK: C. De Benedictis, Per la storia del collezionismo italiano. Fonti e documenti, Firenze, Ponte alle Grazie, 1991 [o 1998];
A chosen book (or paper) among:
- M. Carminati, Il David in carrozza. Le avventure di viaggio delle opere d’arte dagli obelischi egizi al boom delle mostre, Milano, Longanesi, 2009;
- N. Charney, Stealing the mystic lamb. The true story of the world's most coveted masterpiece, New York, Public Affairs, 2010;
- V. Curzi, C. Brook, C. Parisi Presicce (a cura di), Il museo universale. Dal sogno di Napoleone a Canova, cat. della mostra (Roma, Scuderie del Quirinale, 16.12.2016- 12.03.2017), Skira, 2016;
- E. Franchi, I viaggi dell'Assunta: la protezione del patrimonio artistico veneziano durante i conflitti mondiali, Pisa Univ. Press, 2010;
- F. Haskell, The King's pictures. The formation and dispersal of the collections of Charles I and his courtiers, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2013;
- B. Lane, The Patron and the Pirate. The Mystery of Memling's Gdansk Last Judgment, in Art Bulletin, vol. 73, no. 4, p. 623-640;
- P. Wescher, I furti d'arte. Napoleone e la nascita del Louvre , Torino, Einaudi, 1988.
The list of recommended readings above, plus a chosen book (discussed in Introduction-Part One) among:
- P. Bourdieu, A. Darbel, D. Schnapper, The Love of Art. European Art Museums and Their Public , Stanford University Press, 1990;
F. Bulegato, I musei d'impresa. Dalle arti industriali al design, Roma, Carocci, 2008;
- L. Cataldo (a cura di), Musei e patrimonio in rete. Dai sistemi museali al distretto culturale evoluto, Milano, Hoepli, 2014;
- F. Donato, A.M. Visser Travagli, Il museo oltre la crisi. Dialogo fra museologia e management, Milano, Electa, 2010;
- F. Haskell, Rediscoveries in art. Some aspects of taste, fashion and collectin in England and France, Ithaca/N.Y., Cornell University Press, 1976;
- F. Haskell, The ephemeral museum. Old master paintings and the rise of the art exhibition, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000;
- M.A. Lugli, Naturalia et Mirabilia. Il collezionismo enciclopedico nelle Wunderkammern d'Europa , o ed. 2006;
- A.M. Molfino, Il libro dei musei, Torino, Allemandi, 1991.
- K. Pomian, Collectors and curiosites. Paris and Venice, 1500-1800, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1990;
- J. von Schlosser, Raccolte d'arte e di meraviglie del tardo Rinascimento , Milano, Sansoni, 2000 (o ed. ss.);
S. Settis, Italia S.p.A. L'assalto al patrimonio culturale, Torino, Einaudi, 2002.
Classroom lectures, with powerpoint projections (sources, works of art, video, documentaries).
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam concerns the entire course and aims to test the student knowledge on the first part of the course, and on the second part, for which the students are invited to present an autonomous itinerary, starting from the chosen book.