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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.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects

AHIS40008 Futurism and Fascist Art in Italy

Recommended background knowledge

Prior completion of at least one undergraduate Art History subject.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

  • A 2,000 word essay based on a class presentation (40%), due during the semester
  • A 3,000 word research essay (60%), due in the examination period
  • Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% (or 10 out of 12) classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Any student who fails to meet this hurdle without valid reason will not be eligible to pass the subject. All required written work must be submitted in order to pass the subject. Essays submitted after the due date without an extension will be penalised 2% per day. Essays submitted after two weeks of the assessment due date without a formally approved application for special consideration or an extension will only be marked on a pass/fail basis if accepted.

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorAnthony G White
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hoursTotal 24 hours: A 2-hour seminar per week.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    A subject reader will be available.

  • Subject notes

    Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in art history.

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    Subject coordinator approval required

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 29 May 2019