ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSE
Modernity and Tradition in Italian Art
What happened in Italy after the great ages for which artists are so well known? What were the legacies of classical antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Baroque once their historical moments had passed? These are complicated questions, especially when considered in the context of increasing tendencies to define modernity as a rejection of these time-honored and revered Italian traditions. By the first decades of the twentieth century, European art had undergone a period of profound structural and philosophical change. Many of the radical aesthetic ideas coming out of France and Germany struggled for legitimacy in a country that remained steeped in history and deeply attached to an artistic legacy that had been admired for centuries. Italian modernism took shape in the context of a constant dialogue between the demands of historical continuity and the influx of new ideas from abroad. In this course, we will learn that notions of modernity can’t be defined by universal principles; they evolve according to local conditions. A country such as Italy will not simply mirror emerging concepts but rather reflect them back on itself.
The course will examine the development of modern art with an emphasis on characteristically Italian modern movements, as well as the involvement of Italian artists in the international art scene. Special consideration will be given to the influence of Italy’s political and social history on the formation of modern Italian art. It begins in the late 19th century as Italians seek to gain independence from foreign occupiers and unite as a single nation after years of geographical and political fragmentation. We will then consider the notion of modernity in the early 20th century as it was understood in the avant-garde circles of continental Europe, and its relationship to historical Italian artistic traditions. The course concludes with a look at the figurative tradition for which Italy was so admired, and the emergence of multiple strategies to engage the tensions between modernity and tradition in a newly radicalized political and artist landscape.
Topics will include: the Macchiaioli and the Risorgimento; Futurism and the European Avant-Garde; Metaphysical Art, the Return to Order and early Surrealism; Italian artists and the School of Paris; Italian Post-Modernism.
- To understand the changes—social, political, philosophical, aesthetic—that resulted in what is called modern art
- To understand the fundamental characteristics and aims of European modern art
- To understand what it meant to be modern in Italy
- To understand how Italian modernity relates to larger developments
Mary Ann Calo, Batza Professor, Emerita, joined the Colgate University faculty in 1991 as a member of the Department of Art and History. During her 25 years at Colgate, Prof. Calo taught courses on modern and contemporary art history, the arts and public policy, and American art. She also served as Chair of the Art and Art History Department, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Director of the Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts, and Director of the Division of Arts and Humanities. Calo spent many years living and working in Italy, initially as a student and then later as a professor, serving several times as a visiting professor of modern art at Syracuse University in Florence. Since retirement, Calo has led academic tours focused on modern art for the Smithsonian (France) and for Colgate alumni groups (Italy).
Virtual Classroom: Upon registration, participants will have full access to an online educational platform with videos of recordings, syllabus, readings and discussion forum. Each lecture lasts around 1 hour 15 minutes.
Credits: Certificate of Completion
Access: Students have lifetime and unlimited streaming access to the course content.
Readings are provided to students to enhance the course experience.