Taking 1797 as a dramatic watershed, the course will be split into two different parts: the early one, conducted by Isabella di Lenardo, concerns the XVIII century, the second one, conducted by Guido Zucconi, relates to the XIX century. Starting from the history of art and architecture, the idea is to cover the subject from a broader perspective involving not only urban transformations, but also literature, drama, music, and the applied arts.
The course is chronologically and thematically scheduled as a sequence of two different modules, each focused on a series of case studies which will be complemented with field trips. Generally speaking, this alternation of lessons and site visits is intended to provide a direct knowledge of the city, its architectural and artistic masterpieces.
Introduction to historical topics:
In modern times, from the XVI to the end of the XVIII century, Venice had been considered one of the most important cultural centres of southern Europe. As the city increasingly forfeited its traditional role of a great merchants’ hub, urban life and economy came to rely on its role of capital city. Despite a progressive decline and stagnation in economy, Venice still represented a political utopia and a literary model where the arts were producing a succession of remarkable works, fresco decoration, music and theatre in particular playing a primary role. Together with painting, literature, drama and music, architecture and the plastic arts also contributed to shape a strong urban image reinforcing earlier stereotypes.
With the collapse of the Republic (1797), Venice fell into a condition of crisis and frustration which would be exploited by Romanticism. Due to this new sensitivity, another idea of Venice was slowly emerging. Lord Byron, John Ruskin and other foreign travellers contributed strongly to establishing a new series of myths associated with notions of despair and death. Architecture and the arts followed this new trend, with varying results.
In the second half of the XIXth century, however, in particular after the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy and to the opening of the Suez Canal (1869), it was the time for the updating of urban facilities, with railway links, harbour equipment, new bridges and thoroughfares. The city was finding its place in developing commercial and maritime networks and entering a new framework in contrast with the still dominating romantic stereotype.
Alongside a series of detailed descriptions, this course aims at providing a general critical introduction to the architectural and urban features of Venice, considering specifically how architecture and art have contributed to creating a particular idea of the city. Starting out from a selection of highlights and a number of case studies, we want students to get acquainted with the main lines of Venice’s cultural, historic and artistic heritage from the XVIIIth to XXth centuries as relating to modern and contemporary times
Through the course the students will:
- become familiar with outstanding examples of Venetian architecture in their art-historical context, in particular with those playing an important symbolical role in the city;
- be provided with an overview of the main issues and the prominent personalities that have marked the history of art and architecture down to modern and contemporary times;
- be provided with the tools of critical reading in order to trace the lineaments of a story that runs from the fifteenth century to the twentieth century.
The course is organized around modules based on both lessons and field trips which are intended to enhance a direct knowledge of the city and its architectural masterpieces.
Regular attendance of both class and visits is compulsory for all students and participation will contribute 30% to the final evaluation.
Readings will be designated on a regular basis according to the themes listed in the course outline.
Writing a final paper of about 3 pages on a specific subject will be required at the end of the course (70% of the final evaluation).
CONCINA E., A History of Venetian Architecture, Cambridge, 1998
HOWARD D., The Architectural History of Venice, revised and enlarged edition, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2002.
ZUCCONI G., Venice. An Architectural Guide, Venezia, Arsenale, 2007
MARTINEAU J., ROBINSON A. (editors), The glory of Venice: art in the eighteenth century: Royal Academy of arts, London 1994
LEWIS D., Notes on XVIII century Venetian architecture, “Bollettino dei Musei Civici veneziani”, n. XII, 1971
PLANT M., Venice: Fragile City, 1797-1997, New Haven/London, Yale University Press, 2002
HEWISON R., Ruskin and Venice, London, 1978
SCHULZ, J., The Restoration of the Fondaco dei Turchi, “Annali di Architettura”, VII (1995), pp.19-38.
GOY, R., Venice: The City and its Architecture, London, Phaidon, 1999.