Social History of Art

Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in COMMUNICATION SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Supplementary compulsory subjects
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (56 hours)

Specific prerequisits and/or any kind of knowledge on Art History and Architecture History are not required, as a limited type of high-schools provide it. In any case students are required to refer to the learning of History, Phylosophy, Geography and Literature History achieved during the years of high school.

Final Examination: 

The final examination consists of a verbal test which includes three questions on wide ranging topics and on specific ones based on the bibliography require at n. 6. They will cover the complete programme through the time frame considered. The student will be asked to emphasize relationships and connections between different topics delivered during lessons.
The result is expressed with a 30-point scale that can be divided into failing (0 to 17) and passing (18 to 30 cum laude) grades. The mark is based on a general assessment on the answers to the three questions. They all have the same value. The final mark will be revised considering the global knowledge of the student.
The fundamental principles are: the knowledge acquired, considering the communications skills required by the Bachelor’s Degree course, the correct positioning of phenomenon, events and objects in space and time, the ability in formal reading (with special care of the historical criteria and data and not the emotional ones), including a critical judgment (with references to the contemporary cultural heritage) and suggestions of proper comparisons, the communication skill using the proper language, as suggested during lessons.

Voto Finale

The course of Storia Sociale dell’Arte belongs
to the group of humanistic teachings which
characterize the course of studies of the
Bachelor’s Degree course of Scienze della
The student will be able to know the outlines of Italian and European History of Art and Architecture from Middle Ages to Modern times, including supplementary elements and researches on the Lombard area. Considering this last topic, it is remarkable the knowledge of a longlasting and European phenomenon: the activity of Lombard Lake Artists in the different branches of painting, sculpture, architecture.
Specific care is required to the knowledge of the history of the material conditions of artists’ work and on their image through the centuries. Special attention is also require on patronage taste, the public perception of Art and Architecture and the correct identification of the iconographic and iconologic elements.
Among the learning abilities expected to be acquired there are the capability of visual analysis, the development of communication skills using the proper language; the development of a comparative attitude, considering the correct geographical, chronological and cultural context can be pointed out. The student will be able to investigate the art work, connecting it with the dynamics on its creation, the geographical and chronological contexts, analyzing with attention its art language, describing it with terminological precision, showing the knowledge acquired connecting different phenomenon.
The acquired knowledge can contribute to the growth of the general skills of synthesis and processing of data and concepts derived from different sources, together with the development of the correct use of Italian language considering the specific dictionary required by the topics delivered.

The following topics will be delivered during lessons:
Methodological introduction to meaning of Social History of Art, on the development of the discipline between XIXth and XXth century and hints of art literature;
the reading of a visual art work and of an architecture and to the use of the terminological dictionary;
Role and meaning of art patronage and the artist position;
4. Collectin
5. Origin and role of museums;
6. Public and art works;
7. Exhibitions and market;
8. Institutions for the training of artists;
9. The place of art production: from workshop to atelier. The team work;
10. Lombard Lake Artists: origin of the phenomenon and terminology;
11. Lombard Lake Artists: the Middle Ages;
12. Lombard Lake Artists: the Modern era.

The following handbook you have to study carefully:

E. Castelnuovo, I. Bignamini, voce Arte e società, in Enciclopedia delle scienze sociali, 1991, consultabile on-line sul sito e caricato sulla piattaforma e-learning;
A. Pinelli, La storia dell’arte. Istruzioni per l’uso, Laterza, qualsiasi edizione;
E. Castelnuovo, Arte Industria Rivoluzioni. Temi di storia sociale dell’arte, qualsiasi edizione, la più recente è Edizioni della Normale di Pisa;

Sul fenomeno degli Artisti delle valli dei Laghi Lombardi, saranno resi disponibili dal docente sulla piattaforma e-learning due pdf dal titolo:

If you need further information on the artistic eras and movements or single artists mentioned during lessons, please refer to one of the following art handbooks:

P. De Vecchi – L. Cerchiari, Arte nel tempo, Bompiani/Mondadori 1995, considering the chapters related to the chronological period indicated. All different editions of the book are accepted.


Baldriga, Dentro L’Arte contesto metodo confronti, Mondadori/ Electa Scuola, 2016 considering the chapters related to the chronological period indicated. All different editions of the book are accepted.


L. Colombo, A. Dionisio, N. Onida, G. Savarese, Opera. Architettura e arti visive nel tempo, Sansoni per la Scuola, 2016 considering the chapters related to the chronological period indicated. All different editions of the book are accepted.


The course, in compliance with the present provisions, will be delivered with frontal lessons through the Teams platform and with audio recorded powerpoint files (downloadable from the e-learning platform), for the total amount of 56 hours. They will be all conducted by the tenured professor of the course,, encouraging, as much as possible, interaction between the lecturer and students. At the end of each lesson students can ask for clarifications and further explanations of the topics proposed by chat or e-mail.
The listening of lessons is highly recommended to take advantage of all the interdisciplinary connections (political history, historic geography, history of literature, etc.) and critical interpretations of the phenomenon which will be proposed by the teacher lesson by lesson and which can not be fully developed in the handbooks available.

Consultation hours. Using the Teams platform, during the first semester, or at the professor’s office (Collegio Cattaneo,Via Jean Henry Dunant, 7 Varese). You have to require a prior appointment by sending your e-mail to The appointment will be fixed within one week.
Before and after lessons it is always possible to have informal consultations or to require an appointment with professor Facchin.