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Florence, Italy: Messages and Meaning (2012)

Florence, Italy: Messages and Meaning
Travel Dates: 4 weeks, mid-May to mid-June, 2012
6 credits
Art History Elective
Fine Arts or Design Studio Elective
Pre-requisites: AH 110,111 (or ARTH151) plus Completion of Freshman Year Coursework

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“Men in general judge more by their eyes than their hands: everyone can see, but few can feel. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few touch upon what you are . . . “
-Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

Florence is seen today as a serene metropolis, where both ancient and the modern worlds coexist in striking harmony. Creative thinkers like Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Masaccio are as synonymous with this city as the art world itself. However, beneath this first-glance façade lies a history filled with intrigue, political conspiracy, assassination plots, war and unrest. During the Florentine Renaissance, public art and architecture were more than just civic adornments. They saturated the city with messages of faith and propagandistic patriotism.

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In this course, students will find themselves immersed in the rich history, culture and geography of Florence and Tuscany while learning to decipher the theological, political and cultural messages between artist and patron. Subject, form and inscription will be analyzed to reveal the specific messages and suggestions inculcated by the church, government and the Florentine elite. Students will examine how the art and architecture utilized Biblical narrative, ancient history and classical mythology to ignite and fan patriotic fervor, amidst commercial ambition and political rivalries. By exploring its museums, public piazzas, palazzos and churches, students will uncover Florence as more than just a city filled with famous works, but a complex and significant work in its own right, enveloping its many generations of citizens in layers of messages and meanings.

Students will combine their art historical research and analysis with graphic and typographic-inspired studio explorations as they examine these artistic, historical and propagandistic concepts. Utilizing pictograms, typography, sculptural forms, and images, through digital and non-digital media, students will be challenged to recognize how layers of meaning are incorporated into their own concept of modern Florence via the past.

Michael Aschenbrenner is an art historian specializing in symbolic meaning and interpretation in Renaissance and 19th century American society.  He has been an instructor at MIAD for over five years and has taught upper-level courses on Italian Renaissance and Northern Renaissance art at MIAD and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Michael previously led the 2008 MIAD course in Florence (Florence: Through the Eyes of Vasari). He holds an M.A. in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Phil Belair has taught full time at MIAD for the past eight years and is currently Chair of the 2D/4D area. He has taught courses in Typography, Information Graphics, Packaging, Advertising Design, Identity Design and Environmental Graphics. Prior to MIAD, he spent over 20 years working in-house as a creative director for some of Milwaukee’s best-known businesses and as a brand identity director. Phil is also a landscape painter who has shown at several galleries around the state and recently had work accepted into the 2011 Wisconsin Artists Biennial.

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Estimated Travel / Course Fee / Tuition: $5310
Course fee includes 6 credits MIAD summer tuition, transportation in China, housing, some meals, field trips, and museum entrance fees. Airfare is NOT included.

Application Deadline: December 1, 2011
Interested students must complete an application (download application packet from the MIAD Florence program website) and submit it to Jenny Krantz. (Application materials available in September.) Space is limited. Completed applications must include a non-refundable deposit of $500 payable to MIAD Florence Program.

Students must be in good academic standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.

* Because MIAD is incurring costs upon students’ behalf a portion of the fees beyond the deposit may be non-refundable after a certain date.
Minimum enrollment (12) must be met to run course. Deposits will be returned if course is cancelled or if student is not accepted into the program.

Financial Aid: Financial aid is available for qualified students. Interested students should visit the MIAD Financial Aid Office for eligibility and details.

Questions? Jenny Krantz, MIAD Director Facilities Planning and Educational Information –