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  3. Twentieth-Century Italian Art: 1909-1969

Twentieth-Century Italian Art: 1909-1969 (AHIS40008)

HonoursPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelHonours
Subject codeAHIS40008
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is an advanced seminar which examines specific moments in twentieth-century Italian art. Exploring a broad range of visual culture in modern Italy, the syllabus will cover artistic developments and critical debates in painting, sculpture, film, architecture and industrial design. This material will be brought into focus by being organized around two fundamental issues: the relationship between art and events in the broader social and cultural sphere, and the changing face of avant-garde practice throughout twentieth-century Italian art. Students will investigate the futurist movement’s violent polemic against traditional art and their various attempts to connect art and everyday life through painting, sculpture, music, fashion and the decorative arts. The complex relationship between futurism and fascism will also be examined in conduction with a broader study of fascist culture, which will concentrate on architecture, propaganda and political spectacle. The work of post-WWII realist film-makers and industrial designers will be studied in the light of their claims to bring art closer to the people. The rise of abstraction during the 50s and 60s will also be examined. Lucio Fontana’s introduction of anti-artistic and industrial materials into his painting and sculpture will be studied, as will the work of Piero Manzoni, who mercilessly attacked the post-WWII commercialisation of the avant-garde. The subject will conclude with a survey of the late 1960s work of the Arte povera artists, whose emphasis on process and materiality will be examined as part of the ongoing ambition in Italian art to disintegrate the boundaries of the traditional art work and bring it down to earth.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should have:

  • an understanding of the major art practices and theories in Italy from the beginning of Futurism in 1909 to 1969;
  • the ability to recognise the work of specific artists and artistic movements of the period and explain them in relation to their social and political context;
  • developed their ability to think creatively and express their ideas clearly in written communication;
  • developed an appreciation for a range of art historical approaches to studying the relationship between art and politics in Italian modern art;
  • the ability to conduct independent research using catalogued sources and bibliographical indexes; and
  • developed their skills in verbal communication and oral presentation.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following genric skills:

  • ability to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays;
  • ability to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgements and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations;
  • ability to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically through essay writing and tutorial discussion;
  • ability to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision; and
  • ability to participate in team work through involvement in syndicate groups and group discussions.

Last updated: 29 May 2019