Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FT0227 (AF:354256 AR:190204)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
2nd Term
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The course, aimed at the basic knowledge of the history of Byzantine art, is scheduled among the the similar and integrative training activities of the Bachelor's Degree "Conservation of Cultural Heritage and Performing Arts Management" (programme: "Archeological/History of art”), and among the basic activities of the Bachelor's Degree” (programme: "Historical-Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean"). During the lessons, the main artistic seasons of the Eastern Roman Empire (IV-XV century) will be analyzed. To fully understand the richness and variety of the artistic heritage of Byzantine civilization, monumental evidences and expressions of the wide range of minor arts will be taken into consideration, focusing also into account the most significant lost testimonies, known through written sources. The attention will be turn on the technical-formal aspects, the semantic contents, the production circuits, the terminological and historiographical issues, so as to provide students with the methodological tools necessary for an analytical and critical reading of the work of art and of artistic phenomena as a whole.
- Knowledge and understanding: assimilation of the notions, reflections and concepts transmitted during the lessons;
- Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: to be able to bring back the works of art and the artistic phenomena treated in class in the socio-cultural and spatial-temporal areas of belonging;
- Ability to judge: to be able to grasp the most significant aspects of each work of art, whether they belong to the formal, iconographic, iconological, symbolic, socio-cultural, aesthetic fields;
- Communication skills: knowing how to describe works of art and artistic phenomena treated in class using the specific terminology of the discipline; be able to express clearly, and grammatically correct, notions, reflections and concepts acquired during the lessons;
- Learning skills: at the end of the course the student must be able to provide a reading at the same time analytical and critical of the works of art and artistic phenomena treated, integrating the knowledge acquired during the lessons to read the texts indicated.
No prerequisite is required.
The course aims to retrace, in a diachronic sense, the main artistic seasons of Byzantine civilization, from the 4th to the 5th century, summarized as follows: the foundation of Constantinople; the Theodosian renaissance; the golden age of Justinian; the icon and the cult of images; the Iconoclasm; the Macedonian renaissance; the Comnenian art; the Paleologian art.
Evidence of the existing heritage and lost heritage known through the sources, will be taken into consideration. The focus will be on monumental works (architecture, sculpture, mural and rock painting, mosaics), and minor arts (goldsmiths, ivories, illuminated codes and textiles), highlighting the technical-formal aspects (material components, executive modalities, stylistic rendering), semantic contents (iconography, inscriptions), production circuits (ideation, commissioning, fruition) and interpretative questions (function, symbolic value, aesthetic values).
Among the fundamental themes, particular attention will be given to the following topics:
1) The double polarity, hellenizing and abstracting, of the Byzantine figurative language;
2) The work of art conceived as a reflection of transcendence;
3) The role of the artist in the production process of the work of art;
4) Byzantine art outside the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire (acquisitions, circulation of models, emulations).
MANDATORY readings for the exam:

- LAZAREV Viktor, 'Storia della pittura bizantina', Torino, Einaudi, [1967] 2014, pp. 7-29 (cap. I: "I fondamenti dell'arte bizantina"; cap. II: "L'estetica bizantina").
- DELLA VALLE Mauro, 'Costantinopoli e il suo impero. Arte, architettura, urbanistica nel millennio bizantino', Milano, Jaca Book, 2007.

It is also required to read two essays to choose from the following:

- ANDALORO Maria, 'Bisanzio: lo statuto dell’immagine', in “Medioevo mediterraneo. L’Occidente, Bisanzio e l’Islam (Atti del convegno internazionale di Studi, Parma, 21-25 settembre 2004)”, a cura di Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, Milano, Electa, 2007, pp. 73-81.
- BACCI Michele, 'Artisti eretici ed eterodossi a Bisanzio', in “L’artista a Bisanzio e nel mondo cristiano-orientale (Giornate di studio Pisa, Scuola Normale Superiore, 21-22 novembre 2003)”, a cura di Michele Bacci, Pisa, Ed. della Normale, 2007, pp. 177-209.
- BELTING Hans, 'Problemi vecchi e nuovi sull’arte della cosiddetta (Rinascenza Macedone) a Bisanzio', in “Corso di Cultura sull’Arte Ravennate e Bizantina”, 29, 1982, pp. 31-57.
- CUTLER Anthony, 'La "questione bizantina" nella pittura italiana: una visione alternativa della "maniera greca"', in “La pittura in Italia. Altomedioevo”, a cura di Carlo Bertelli, Milano, Electa, 1994, pp. 335-354.
- KITZINGER Ernst, 'L’arte bizantina nel periodo fra Giustiniano e l’Iconoclastia [1976]', in “Il culto delle immagini. L'arte bizantina dal cristianesimo delle origini all'Iconoclastia”, Firenze, La Nuova Italia Editrice, 1992, pp. 119-206.

For the knowledge of the specific terminology of Byzantine art:

- “Glossario”, in CONCINA Ennio, 'Le arti di Bisanzio. Secoli VI-XV', Milano, B. Mondadori, 2002, pp. 393-401.

Readings not MANDATORY for the exam, recommended for consultation and / or in-depth study:

- CONCINA Ennio, 'Le arti di Bisanzio. Secoli VI-XV', Milano, B. Mondadori, 2002.
- CUTLER Anthony e NESBITT John W., 'L'arte bizantina e il suo pubblico', Torino, UTET, 1986.
- GRABAR André, 'L’età d’oro di Giustiniano', Milano, Rizzoli, 1980.
- DŽUROVA Aksinija, 'La miniatura bizantina: i manoscritti miniati e la loro diffusione', Milano, Jaca Book, 2001.
- LAZAREV Viktor, 'Storia della pittura bizantina', Torino, Einaudi, [1967] 2014.
- MANGO Cyril, 'Architettura bizantina', Milano, Electa, 2009.

For specific themes and works of art, other bibliographic references can be reported during the lessons.

The texts cited that should be untraceable will be provided in pdf format.
The oral exam will focus on the contents of the lessons and compulsory texts (see above, "Reference texts").
Classroom-taught with PowerPoint projection containing documentary and illustrative material, specially prepared by the teacher.
Use of the Moodle multimedia platform, for the provision of documentary and illustrative materials in pdf format.

If, for health reasons, distance lessons become mandatory, the course will be delivered via Zoom, always with the support of documentary and illustrative material in Power Point (access can take place both in real time and through video-audio recordings).
Frequency of the course is strongly recommended.

Ca 'Foscari applies the Italian law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) for support and accommodation services available to students with disabilities or with specific learning disabilities. If you have a motor, visual, hearing or other disability (Law 17/1999) or a specific learning disorder (Law 170/2010) and request support (assistance in the classroom, technological aids for carrying out exams or exams individualized, accessible format material, notes retrieval, specialized tutoring to support the study, interpreters or other) contact the Disability and SLD office disabling@unive.it.

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 07/07/2021