History of Contemporary Art I - LM [Sede TN] (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Denis Viva
Denis Viva
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem 1 - sede TN dal Sep 14, 2020 al Dec 18, 2020.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

Comprehension and analysis of contemporary artworks; critic and historical attitude in using the methodological tools of the discipline; how to research in the field of Contemporary Art History; deep knowledge of the monographic topic of the course.


Neglected and forgotten for a long time, Italian Art of the Fascist era has been historiographically re-evaluated and reframed since the 1970s. In those years, the exhibition has contributed a great deal to rediscovery that art, from "Arte moderna in Italia 1915-1935", curated by Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti in Florence in 1967, to the recent "Art Life and Politics: Italia 1918-1943", curated by Germano Celant, at the Fondazione Prada in Milan in 2018.

This year's Contemporary Art History course will be focused on the history of these exhibitions as a means for reframing a controversial history: the first part of the course will be dedicated to the historical context and to the historiographical debate on Fascism, not only from an artistic point of view (a lecture on historiography on Fascism will be held by dr. Umberto Tulli, University of Trento). The second part of the course will delve into the exhibition theory and practice as a specific form of recontructing and revising history (starting from its communicative features such as the display, the wall-texts, the catalogue, the selection of works, etc.); the last part will examine some cases of exhibitions which marked the reframing of Fascist Italian Art: a lecture on the exhibition in Milan in 2018 will be held by dr. Sharon Hecker [sharonhecker.com] and dr. Raffaele Bedarida from Cooper Union, New York.

The course provides lectures with the projections of artwork pictures, visual interpretation and an anthology of Art Critics by involving the students. Especially in the middle and the last parts of the course the participation of the students will be encouraged in order to discuss about some shared texts and some available documents on exhibitions. The interactive lectures (around the 40%) will be held live both through video (Zoom) and in the classroom. The remaining part will be held through recorded video. Lectures will be available from home in any case.

Assessment methods and criteria

The writing and presentation of a brief dossier (a text of 10 pages + the appendix of documents) and the oral presentation of this dossier (by using slides or other media). The topic of the dossier should be an exhibition (or one of its specific aspects, such as its catalogue or its display, etc.) dedicated to Italian Art of the Fascist era. After the presentation, there will be a discussion with the teacher concerning the relation between the case study and the content of the course (five essays selected from the bibliography, lectures notes)

The topic should be agreed with the professor. It will be possible to work in team under the condition of presenting invdividual texts and presentation. Further information will be provided during the course.

The exam will scrutinize the individual knowledge concerning the topic of the course; each own competence in autonomously conducting research and art-historical studies; theorical awareness and critical approach to the topic.

Students should select five essays from this bibliography in order to compare to the topic of their paper, and to discuss with the teacher.

Catalogues of the exhibitions analyzed during the course:

Arte moderna in Italia 1915-1935, curated by Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, exh. cat. (Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 26th February-28 May1967) Marchi&Bertolli, Florence1967. (introduction by Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti)

Les realismes 1919-1939, curated by Gérard Reigner, exh. cat. (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 17th December 1980-20th April 1981; Staatliche Kunsthalle, Berlino ovest, 10th May-30th June 1981) Centre Pompidou, Paris 1980. (text by Jean Clair)

Annitrenta. Arte e cultura in Italia, curated by Renato Barilli et al., exh. cat. (Galleria del Sagrato, ex Arengario, Palazzo Reale, Milan, 26th January-23rd May 1982) Mazzotta, Milano 1982. (texts by Renato Barilli, Vittorio Fagone)

Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918-1943, curated by Germano Celant (Fondazione Prada, Milan, 18th February-25th June 2018) Fondazione Prada, Milan 2018. (texts by Germano Celant, Marla Stone).

(all these catalogues are available at the Library of Mart in Rovereto)

Studies on the exhibitions analyzed:

Denis Viva, Postmodernisme et antimodernisme dans l'historiographie de l'art italien du XXe siècle (1973-1983), in Le Postmoderne: un paradigme pertinent dans le champ artistique?, edited by Fabien Danesi, Katia Schneller, Hélène Trespeuch, proceedings (INHA, Grand Palais, Paris, 30th-31st May 2008) HiCSA (online), 2013, https://hicsa.univ-paris1.fr/page.php?r=133&id=593&lang=fr
Available at: https://www.academia.edu/1112454/Postmodernism_and_Antimodernism_in_the_Historiography_of_Contemporary_Italian_Art (An English Version will be provided by the teacher)

Luca Quattrocchi, Esporre l'arte dell'era fascista. Cronache e storia, in "Italia Contemporanea", n. 279, 2015, pp. 529-44.
Available at: https://www.academia.edu/38053815/Luca_Quattrocchi_2015_Esporre_l_arte_dell_era_fascista._Cronache_e_storia_in_Italia_contemporanea_n._279_pp._529-544

Ilaria Schiaffini, "Anni '30. Arti in Italia oltre il fascismo". Note storiografiche attorno al successo delle mostre sull'arte tra le due guerre, in "Italia Contemporanea", n. 279, 2015, pp. 544-55.

Susanna Arangio, L'iconografia mussoliniana. Un percorso tra rimozioni e riscoperte nelle mostre italiane dal secondo dopoguerra ad oggi, in "Pianob", vol. III, n. 1, 2018, pp. 52-85.

Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti e l'arte in Italia tra le due guerre. Nuove ricerche intorno e a partire dalla mostra del 1967 "Arte moderna in Italia 1915-1935", edited by Paolo Bolpagni, Mattia Patti, proceedings (Fondazione Ragghianti, Lucca, Università di Pisa, 13rd-15th December 2017) Edizioni Fondazione Ragghianti Studi sull'Arte, Lucca 2020. (some specific essay will be selected by the teacher).

Erasmus students can defend their presentation in English, Spanish, French
Students who cannot attend the lectures should plan with the professor (denis.viva@unitn.it) a completely different program and a different bibliography.