Department of Art and Art History Special Programs

Learning Tuscany: Art and Culture in Italy

May 24 – July 4, 2017

Application Deadline: December 1, 2016
Apply Now!

Learn more at an Info Session
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
5 p.m. (Pizza at 4:30)
Art Building, Room 1.110

Learning Tuscany

The Learning Tuscany program introduces students to art and culture first-hand. Students are given the opportunity to be ambassadors from the United States and Texas, sharing their experiences with students and citizens of Italy. Many make connections that continue to exist today, and many have cited this experience as the most important of their academic careers. The program has trained students from all four of our divisions (Studio Art, Art History, Design, and Visual Art Studies) and students from other majors.

In Italian culture, life and art are inseparable. Countless examples illustrate this—the still-life quality of window displays in Florence, the artisanal care taken by a Sienese stoneworker replacing part of a medieval byway, the sculpted harmony of the Tuscan countryside. We cannot experience these essential qualities of Italian life in a classroom. Only with time and careful observation can we begin to absorb the richness and rhythm of life, and art, in Italy.

This summer program focuses on the cities and landscapes of Tuscany. All students live in the historic facility of Santa Chiara in the town of Castiglion Fiorentino. They take an art history course and a studio course taught by faculty from the UT Department of Art and Art History. Group discussions and visits to other cities, such as Florence, Siena and Rome, serve to frame student experiences within a broader view of Italy. Students then incorporate their new experiences into studio art and art history projects at Santa Chiara.

Courses and Faculty

Artistic Practice in Medieval and Renaissance Italy
Dr. Ann Johns, Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Art History

ART 319T / 320 / 320K / 379T
Site, Material, Visual Thinking
Dan Sutherland, Associate Professor in Studio Art

In these two courses, we will be examining how artists and architects in Medieval and Renaissance Italy created the works and monuments with which we are all familiar. How did an artist receive his (or her) training? What materials were used? To what extent did the patron condition the ultimate appearance of the work? These are all questions we might ask in a classroom, in Austin; seeing the actual, physical, stunningly beautiful objects, however, forces us to confront their materiality and context.

Through reading, discussion, drawing, site visits, and post-field trip analyses, we will examine such topics as the development and usage of different artistic materials, the rise of how-to manuals, the guild and workshop systems, and the social and economic factors that contributed to the manufacture and marketing of art. We will discuss the rising status of both artists and architects during this period; this will be especially important for our understanding of the art of Renaissance and Baroque Rome, as we examine the work of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini. We will also discuss modern restoration and conservation techniques, and students will be encouraged to incorporate this new knowledge into their own art.

The studio component of the Learning Tuscany program will be oriented toward the degree of studio experience each student has. A significant goal for all students enrolled will be to develop the practice of and skill to think visually, or in other words to inform what we perceive and understand intellectually with experiments generated with our hands and eyes. Embedded in our practice of creating art objects onsite will be technical and conceptual discussion points from your peers and professors that will further your studio experiments and your understanding of the historical and contemporary works we will encounter.

Throughout this 6-week course, we will have many opportunities to examine the famous works of Tuscany and Rome, as well as lesser known works in the many nearby hill towns. Unlike classes here in Austin, few of our meetings will take place in a classroom. Instead, much of our art making and class discussion time will take place on site, in these famous art cities, and in front of the objects and buildings of interest. One of the great joys of the Learning Tuscany program is the day-to-day interaction and confrontation with art and architecture, both old and new. Thus much of our discussion of fresco technique and narrative painting will take place in nearby towns of such as Florence and Arezzo, while our understanding of sculptural technique will be enhanced by our visit to the quarries at Carrara. Both Rome and Florence house splendid collections of works spanning multiple eras, culminating in the astonishing works of the great Baroque masters Caravaggio and Bernini. For the summer of 2017, Venice will host the Biennale, one of the world's premiere exhibitions of contemporary art.

All students will be enrolled in both the studio and the art history classes. Our aim is twofold: we want your studies and observations about older artistic practices to enrich the art you create over the course of 6 weeks, and we hope that both your on-site and studio projects will enhance your understanding of the art and culture of the extraordinarily beautiful region of Tuscany.


Program Costs

View Itemized Costs

Financial Aid

Learn more about using financial aid to fund study abroad costs.


Departmental Scholarships

Several scholarships are available to students participating in the Learning Tuscany program.

Scholarship application for Art History majors

Scholarship application for Design majors

Scholarship application for Studio Art majors

Scholarship application for Visual Art Studies majors

Non-Departmental Scholarships

Students can also find other non-departmental scholarship opportunities on the Study Abroad Office website.