ARTH367 Modern European & Italian Art, Daria Filardo, Fall 2019 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTH367 Modern European & Italian Art, Daria Filardo, Fall 2019

The course begins with the foundations of avant-garde art in the 19th century, explores the meaning of Modernism and introduces different methods of interpreting art developed during the century. The avant-garde trends are deeply analyzed in their formal, historical, and philosophical aspects. Modernist art is considered as a new perspective in art language, as well as being related to the events which occurred in society at the time. The course proposes a new discourse on the problem of representation and gives fundamental instruments to understand the visual language of the modern and contemporary art.

The rise of modern Italian and European art is discussed and analyzed with a special focus on the connections between avant-garde movements and technology, social change, and new media. The ideas and the relationships between single artists and major movements are examined as the fundamental basis of these artists’ activities and artworks. Emphasis is given to the relationships and the specific influences among artists belonging to different movements.

Beginning with the post-impressionists, key movements and groups are studied, such as those of the fauvists, the cubists, the futurists, the Dadaists, etc. The course stresses in particular the seminal works and ideas of Marcel Duchamp.

Upon successful completion of this course, student will be able to:

  • identify art processes and concepts, periods of art, and the major artists or works.
  • describe a work of art with the vocabulary and concepts of the field.
  • read and interpret an image, a sculpture, or an architectural structure.
  • discuss the connections among style, subject matter, time period, and geographical location.
  • develop an understanding of philosophical, theoretical, and critical issues in relation to modern and post-modern art.
  • improve the ability to creatively and flexibly understand, interpret, and criticize art.
  • improve the ability to think critically.
  • develop personal work and ideas by studying and engaging with historical and modern art theory.
  • develop an appropriate vocabulary for expressing theoretical issues.
  • develop personal work and ideas by studying and engaging with historical and modern art theory
  • develop communication skills and effective discussion methods through class participation.

There will be a midterm and a final examination. Slide reviews will be held before each examination. Please pay attention to the scheduled dates. There will be no rescheduling of exams.

Students must work on an oral presentation on one of the topics discussed in class, to be agreed upon with the instructor. Presentations should reflect an in-depth study and analysis of a specific problem. Presentations will be due at the end of the term.

Field trips relating to the above movements will include visits to temporary exhibitions held in town and around in places like Palazzo Strozzi, Marino Marini Museum, Base, Pecci Museum. Other visits and events may be scheduled later depending on students’ interests and available opportunities.


In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act Textbook Provision, SACI provides, when possible, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and retail price of required and recommended reading. Note: The SACI Worthington Library always has one copy of this textbook on reserve for use in the library. There are 13 additional copies that can be checked out for the entire term on a first-come first-served basis. 

Foster, Hal, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh. Art Since 1900. Modernism, AntimodernismPostmodermismThames and Hudson, 2004.
ISBN: 9780500238899 (Retail price: £48)


Grading is based on attendance, effort, improvement, and demonstration of knowledge gained through the course.

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.


Thursday, September 12

Presentation of the course, professor and students.

General overview of the transformations, critical debates and formal solutions of the end of 19th and 20th centuries.

Thursday, September 19

Les demoiselles d’Avignon: Picasso’s attack on mimetic representation (reading pp. 78-84/106-111).

Cubism: Braque, Picasso and others (reading pp. 112-124/160-167).

Expressionism and primitivism in Germany and France (readings TBA).

Thursday, September 26

Futurism: Manifesto and artistic production (reading pp. 90-99).

Field trip to exhibition of Natalia Goncharova, Palazzo Strozzi

Thursday, October 3

Abstraction improvisation, poetry, geometry: Kandinsky, Klee.

Malevich's Suprematism (reading pp. 130-134).

Mondrian & De Stijl: The devotion to the sense of abstraction (reading pp. 118-124/148-153).

Thursday, October 10

Mechanization and the readymade Marcel Duchamp: The impact of mechanical reproduction (reading pp. 125-129/154-159/271-275 + Boris Groys on Duchamp (Mousse, no. 36).

Thursday, October 17

Dada Dadaism: A reaction to WWI and the provocation of futurism and expressionism (reading pp. 135-141/168-173).

Screening of Germany Dada.

Thursday, October 24

Midterm exam.



MIDTERM BREAK (October 26 - November 3)


Thursday, November 7

Russian Constructivism (reading p. 174-179).

Screening of The Man with a Movie Camera.

Thursday, November 14

De Chirico and Metaphysical painting (reading pp. 96-97/165/202-207).

The 20's and 30's and the Return to Order in Italy.

Thursday, November 21

Visit to Museo del Novecento.

Thursday, November 28

The surrealist aesthetic; painting, photography and writing (reading pp. 190-195/212-215/245-254).

Screening of The Andalusian Dog by Buñuel and Dalì and other surrealist experimental films.

Thursday, December 5

The second world war and the work of Italian artists Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana.

Thursday, December 12

Oral presentations.

Thursday, December 19

Final Exam.


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