Art 391: Italian Architecture, Renaissance to Rococo


Professor Michelli
Location and Times: CART 131, Tuesday, Thursday
5.00-7.45 pm
Office: CART 277
(262) 595 2113
Final Exam:
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
5.45-7.45 pm

Required set books:
L Heydenreich, Architecture in Italy, 1400-1500, Yale University Press, 1996
W Lotz, Architecture in Italy, 1500-1600, Yale University Press, 1995
J Varriano, Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture, Oxford University Press, 1986


This course focusses on the architecture of Italy from around 1400 to around 1750, that is, the Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque and Rococo periods. It takes as its starting point two issues which were considered crucial in art and architecture during these periods, and traces their changing impact on concepts and designs. Broadly speaking, these issues are (a) that the only good way to design buildings was according to the Ancient Roman system, and (b) that it was every artist and architect's job to contribute to the progress of the field. Together, these ideas gave an almost religious significance to architecture, opening up exciting possibilities and creating several "problems", which the architects tackled with ingenuity. In fact, the ideas were so powerful that they consistently dominated artistic thinking throughout the four periods under consideration here, but it is very rare that we ever get an opportunity to trace them in such a focussed way. Normally, we could expect only to touch on them here and there and lose them again as we pass on to other countries and art forms. But we must consider some of those art forms here, too, because architecture is as much about space and illusion as building. We will therefore also be considering some relevant painted and sculptural decoration with its exploitation of perspectival space and the creation of magical, metaphysical illusions. Keep in mind the fundamental difference between Roman Catholicism (which was originally universal and is still dominant in Italy) and Protestantism (which is dominant in America). Catholicism presents God to you, it provides you with sacraments that infallibly save your soul, it seeks to control your experience of and access to God - and it is all done in church. Modern Protestantism places the emphasis on individual responsibility for Godly behavior in the world at large, its sacraments are symbolic rather than miraculous, and it leaves your relationship with and perception of God up to you.

The syllabus is set out in class units, and you should read the relevant passages in the set books in time for each class. It is up to you to find those passages, which is quite manageable if you use the index. Look for the architect's name, and if that doesn't work, try the city where the building is located. Some works are not in any of the set books. I have indicated those with brackets where I noticed them. Obviously, paintings are not in the books.

There are five short-answer quizzes which will focus on the terms and concepts covered by the time of each quiz. The total of your four best quizzes will make up 40% of your course grade. Note: the first quiz is in the first full class, and you will prepare for it by reading the relevant pages on Plinia's Secret History of Art - click on Classicism, Classical Beauty, and Linear Perspective. The test will check that you understand what Classicism is, know how to recognize Classical Beauty, know what it was supposed to be able to do, can define linear perspective and name its parts, and know what was important about it. It's all on the web pages, so check them out.

There will be four discussion days. ASK for the assignment topics two weeks ahead of each discussion day. Each of these topics is to be researched, and a 500-word INTRODUCTION to the topic with short list of key works is to be submitted on each discussion day. If you don't know what goes into a proper introduction, check out the paper writing link on the plinia website. Also be sure to check out my requirements for papers, also on the plinia website. These assignments are worth 10% of your course grade each, and they will form the basis of your final exam, which will be a take-home paper worth 20% of your course grade. ASK for the topic at unit 21 if we are on schedule, or two weeks before the final if we have fallen behind.

Class participation is assumed. It involves applying the concepts you have learned to the buildings presented, plus any questions or observations you may wish to add. If confused, ASK for clarification. There will always be others in the room who will be glad that you did.

Art Department Classroom Conduct Policy:

The Art Department also expects conduct appropriate for a university classroom. We have no tolerance for disrespectful behavior, which includes but is not limited to: private conversations with your classmates during a lecture or demonstration, rude comments and/or physical threats directed towards the instructor or your peers, and sleeping in class. Similarly, cell phones and pagers must be silenced before class starts, for they are disturbing to the instructor, your fellow students, and to the overall rhythm of the class. Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent of university policy and the law. Each instructor also reserves the right to determine his or her own specific classroom conduct policies.

Your actions will result in a significant lowering of your final grade. The instructor reserves the right to pull you aside and talk to you individually, to have you removed from class, and to report you to the Dean of Students' office.

Art Dept. Attendance Policy:

Regular attendance in class is mandatory. Once a student obtains 3 unexcused absences, that student's final grade will be lowered one full-letter grade. If a student misses a critique or major demonstration, that absence will be counted double. Missing over nine classes without a legitimate excuse will result in course failure. (This policy is consistent with the attendance policy held by the entire art dept.)


The Art Department reserves the right to use reproductions of student work for promotional purposes, including the departmental website.

Conceal Carry:

"Weapons are prohibited in UW-Parkside buildings and all outdoor events. Anyone found in violation will be subject to immediate removal in addition to academic and/or legal sanctions".

Gen. Ed:

This class is also a general education course in the ARTS AND HUMANITIES that addresses the following prescribed competencies: Critical Thinking, Communication through Creative Expression, and Social and Personal Responsibility.