It was Gerard Baldwin Brown, more than a century ago, who first devoted an in-depth - and still fundamental - study to the pages on the artistic techniques written by Giorgio Vasari as an introduction to his Lives oth artists:
Gerard Baldwin Brown, Vasari on technique; being the introduction to the three arts of design, architecture, sculpture and painting, prefixed to the Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects, London 1907.
There is also an Italian edition: Le tecniche artistiche di Giorgio Vasari, Vicenza 1996.
In Brown's 1907 edition, the Vasari text was translated into English, but the original Italian version of the entire Lives (of which the introductory pages on Architecture, Sculpture and Painting are of interest for the course) can be easily consulted and downloaded online with reference to the classic edition containing Torrentiniana and Giuntina:
Giorgio Vasari, Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568, edited by R. Bettarini and P. Barocchi, text, 6 vols., Firenze 1966-1987.
There is the posssibility to consult online the timeless Milanesi edition of Cennino Cennini's treatise on art, which must be used for choosing the text of the short entry for the exam:
Cennino Cennini, Il libro dell'arte, edited by G. and C. Milanesi, Firenze 1859.
Handbooks on artistic techniques include:
- Corrado Maltese, Le tecniche artistiche, Milano 1973 (con ed. successive);
- Claudio Paolini, Manfredi Faldi, Glossario delle tecniche artistiche e del restauro, Firenze 2000;
- Glenn Adamson, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Art in the making: artists and their materials from the studio to crowdsourcing,, London 2016.
Further bibliographical suggestions pertaining to the course topics will be provided during the lectures.
In-depth knowledge of the main artistic techniques, in order to make understand the importance that the investigation of tje material evidence assumes in the context of the reconstruction of altered and / or dismembered works and contexts. This kind of investigation, however, must always be combined with the study of documents, sources, historical context and style. The ultimate goal, therefore, is to move from techniques to achieve style, experiencing a method trained to analyze the work of art from different perspectives, to mature the critical awareness necessary to adopt it independently.
Good knowledge of art history.
The course is scheduled for April and May 2019 for a maximum number of 16 students, following the limitation foreseen for the course that the visiting professor Machtelt Brüggen Israëls, of the University of Amsterdam should have held during this period (postponed to the next year, because of the Covid-19 emergency).
The selection started with those who chose to follow the course of Machtelt Brüggen Israëls.
Anyone wishing to participate, if there are still places available, can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Type of Assessment
The exam involves the presentation by the student of two written papers on topics chosen in agreement with the teacher, and particularly:
1. a short entry (max 2000 strokes) dedicated to summarizing (without bibliographical references) a chapter of Cennino Cennini's Libro dell'Arte, illustrating it with the reference to one or two example of works of art;
2. a short essay in the form of a catalogue entry (at least 16.000 strokes, with footnotes, bibliography and illustrations) dedicated to a work useful for ascertaining the experiences acquired during the course.
The indications and rules to follow in order to develop these documents will be provided during the course.
The Lives of Giorgio Vasari, both in the Torrentiniana edition of 1550 and in that Giuntina of 1568, represent not only a basic source for the knowledge of Italian Art History from the late Middle Ages to the second half of the sixteenth century, but also a tool for learning what were the artistic techniques adopted in architecture, sculpture and painting. It is of these that Vasari speaks to us in the introduction of his book, even before starting the story of the biographies of the artists ranging from Cimabue to the masters of his time.
During the course, reading the Vasarian pages will therefore allow you to become familiar with the main artistic techniques and, from time to time, will be followed by the comparison with particular works and case studies. Such an experience will be useful to understand concretely how, what described in the introduction of the Lives, was adopted in daily practice by the main artists of the thirteenth-sixteenth centuries, with regard to drawing, panel painting, fresco, marble and polychrome sculpture, bronze casting and much more. However the course, moving from techniques to style, is also intended as a way to trial with a method trained to analyze the work of art from different perspectives, in order to mature the critical awareness necessary to adopt it independently, through the written exercises expected for the exam.