What you will study
The module is presented through three module books, a DVD-ROM and three DVDs. Each module book has its own distinct focus on the how, where and who of Renaissance art. The DVD-ROM is linked particularly to Book 1 through its analysis of how works of art in the Renaissance were actually made. The three DVDs include films that complement and amplify the themes and issues covered in all the module books. Each DVD contains new filming commissioned by the OU, film from other providers, and archival film.
Book 1, Making Renaissance Art, includes seven essays on the production of art. The essays are designed to encourage your direct engagement with drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture and print-making. Through the examination of works of art made in Italy and countries north of the Alps, Book 1 addresses practical issues of art production. It also discusses themes long associated with the Renaissance such as change and continuity; the relative balance of theory and practice; the revival of interest in antique art and architecture; and the imitation of nature. Essays deal specifically with drawing and its role in workshop training and design; mathematical perspective – its significance and alternatives; sculpture north and south of the Alps; the practice and theory of architecture; Gothic and Renaissance altarpieces; and the production of prints. The last chapter of the book examines the proliferation of artistic treatises and biographical writings about Renaissance artists.
Book 2, Locating Renaissance Art, departs radically from the traditional view of Florence as the origin and centre of the Renaissance, though the city serves as a foil for some of the case studies. All the essays extend the geographical boundaries of Renaissance art. Topics include studies of Florentine artists working in their home city and in Rome; the export of Netherlandish painting; the international trade in tapestries; Siena as a Renaissance artistic centre; a study of the post-Byzantine Cretan painter Angelos; Venice and its relationship with its trading partners; and the peripatetic career of the architect Bramante.
Book 3, Viewing Renaissance Art, deals with the consumption of Renaissance works of art. This volume focuses on the values, priorities and motives of patrons and the purposes and functions of artworks. The seven essays consider very different kinds of patrons and consumers: from individuals to secular and religious institutions. The essays also consider a variety of themes such as conspicuous consumption and self-fashioning. Studies of a wide range of social patronage are included, together with chapters specifically on manuscript production; French art; the market for Cretan icons; art associated with the rituals and beliefs connected with death; and Holbein and the Reformation.
You will learn
You will learn about the art-historical period traditionally known as the Renaissance (c.1420–c.1520) and develop a systematic and critical knowledge and understanding of some key aspects of Renaissance art within and beyond the confines of Italy. You will obtain an awareness of current thinking and developments in relation to some key issues of the study of Renaissance art. In line with contemporary art-historical study, you will also broaden your knowledge of the discipline to include media not traditionally classed as fine art: illuminated manuscripts, tapestries and prints.
The project (independent essay) that completes the module will enable you to reassess the period through an in-depth study of a self-chosen topic relating to the themes of the module. You do not need to have a topic in mind before you start the module. You will receive help and advice on choosing a topic at various stages of the module.
Through the use of video and ICT you will learn how to analyse and interpret works of art (architecture, sculpture, painting, etc.) in their immediate physical context. You will also explore complex works of three-dimensional art (architecture, sculpture, cities) that cannot be properly represented within the limits of a few illustrations.
The module has no specific vocational relevance, but could form a valuable part of an art-historical training that encourages the development of critical analysis and visual discrimination. You will also be expected to write a long essay that demonstrates your ability to find and organise material and communicate your research and conclusions effectively.