Course: Opera Aperta

Umberto Eco and the (inter)nationality of the Italian art scene in the 60s and 70s

Date: 22 June – 4 July 2016

Deadline for applications: 15 April 2016

KNIR-Course for MA/PhD students

Umberto Eco’s Opera Aperta was published in 1962 and immediately had a broad reception – both negative and positive – in the Italian and in the international art world. Translations appeared in French, German, Spanish and also English, and thus his concept of ‘incompleteness’ as a crucial element in contemporary art in communicating with its beholder. Aspects of James Joyce’s literature (which was written in Trieste) established a specifically European notion of art discourse – in which the viewer played an active role – which differed greatly from Greenberg’s (the anglo-saxon master narrative of High Modernism). Moreover, the acceptance of his concepts, which resulted from an in-depth study of James Joyce, by the painters and sculptors also shows the intimate connections between poetry and the visual arts in the 1960s, with many literary figures opening up galleries and writing art criticism in Rome and in other Italian cities.

Case studies of artists that are dealt with are Mario Merz, Pierro Manzoni, the artists of arte povera and especially Joseph Beuys’ “Difesa della Natura”, a project undertaken with Baronessa de Domizio Durini; this also establishes a link with the dynamics of collectors and gallerists across Italy, such as Lucio Amelio, and critic / curator Achille Bonito Oliva (Contemporanea, Rome 1973). Curatorial matters could be linked through consideration of the work of Ticino curator Harald Szeemann, who exhibited the relevant artists consistently, but most often outside of Italy. Through these perspectives, Italy’s arguable marginality in contemporary art terms will be explored.

dr. Arnold Witte, Director in Studies of Art History and prof.dr. Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes (University of Amsterdam), and guest speakers.

Course format
The MA/PhD course consists of lectures, on-site presentations, interviews and a number of excursions to both public museums such as the MAXXI and MACRO in Rome, the MADRE in Naples, as well as to private and corporate art collections.

Credits: 6 ECTS

Target group: MA/PhD students in Art History and related disciplines

Before the start of the course, an introductory meeting will take place in Amsterdam (date to be scheduled). Assignments include:
– an exploratory literature survey (800 words), deadline 8 June 2016
– a concluding research paper (5000 words), deadline 18 July 2016

More information
Phone: (0039)063269621