Italian landscape

Learning Tuscany: Art and Culture in Central Italy

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 art and architecture of Tuscany and central Italy. Students live and work in the beautiful Tuscan town of Siena, one of Europe’s most important cities in the middle ages and Renaissance. Contemporary Siena is home to a major university and is rich in cultural traditions, including Siena’s famous Palio horserace. From Siena, students can travel by train or bus to Florence, Rome, and other scenic sites in Tuscany.

Students enroll in an art history course and a studio art course taught by faculty from the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. These courses focus on art and experience. How do we as contemporary viewers experience art of the past? How can daily observations, whether through drawing, print, painting, photography or sculpture, help inform and enrich this experience? Group discussions and visits to other cities, such as Florence and Rome, serve to frame student experiences within a broader view of Italy. The integrated approach of the program balances carefully designed trips with individual and small-group projects in order to explore the forces that shaped Italian cities and landscapes.

Students explore myriad ways of seeing the significance of Tuscany through careful collaborations by two University of Texas at Austin faculty members who focus on the art and art history of the region of Tuscany.

May 31 – July 8, 2023

Application Deadline
December 1, 2022

Apply Now


How It’s Made: Artistic Practice in Pre-Modern Italy
ARH 331J (VAPA, GC flag)
Dr. Ann Johns, Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Art History

In this course, we examine how painters, sculptors, architects, and other artists in Medieval and Renaissance Italy created the works and monuments with which we are all familiar. How did a painter receive his (or her) training? What were workshop conditions like? 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 objects forces us to confront their materiality. Through reading, discussion, site visits, and post-field trip analyses, we examine 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 in the pre-modern Italy. We discuss the rising status of both artists and architects during this period; this is be especially important for our understanding of the art of Renaissance and Baroque Rome, which was dominated by a such “A-list” artists as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini. We also discuss modern restoration and conservation techniques. While we examine the famous works of Tuscany and Rome, we also explore lesser known aspects of the material culture of central Italy. Unlike classes here in Austin, few of our meetings take place in a classroom. Instead, most of our class discussion take place on site, in Siena, Florence, and Rome, as we directly confront and interact with Italy, both past and present.

Traces of Tuscany: Recording the Moment Freehand
ART 319T / 352J * / 379T *
Enrique Figueredo, Assistant Professor of Practice, Studio Art

European artists invented the practice of en plein air painting. In this course, we will borrow from the aforementioned method and employ drawing and printmaking to capture the past and the present of Tuscany. Students will spend the majority of class in the field with portable materials creating studies of medieval streets and their textures, and portray iconic buildings in their natural light. Recognizable scenes will be recorded using printing techniques available during the Renaissance and infused with indications of contemporary life. Inspired by visits to classical sites and museums, the course will rely heavily on drawing and transferring compositions onto linoleum blocks to hand-print reliefs. Fast spontaneous sketches will catch movement while traditional one-hour observations will strengthen the eye. Students will use the process of frottage to engage with the landscape and document their experience living and working in Siena. The student’s final portfolio of works on paper will depict a story of an incredibly historical region and culture through the lens of modern artists. The course will culminate with an exhibition of the student’s artwork in an outdoor public space. Traces of Tuscany: Recording the Moment Freehand is open to all students with a wide and diverse range of concentrations and applicants do not need to have artistic backgrounds.

* Art History and all other majors will register for ART 352J. All Studio Art and Art Education majors will register for ART 379T. Studio Art and Art Education majors should be aware that ART 379T counts towards upper-division ART requirements, but does not provide the pre-requisite for any In Residence ART courses.

Info Sessions

Meet professors Ann Johns and Enrique Figueredo and learn about how you can study art and culture in Italy.

Thursday, October 13, 2022
ART 1.120
Pizza included!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Thursday, November 10, 2022
ART 1.120

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


Scholarships to support participation in the Learning Tuscany program in Summer 2023 are available to students in the Department of Art and Art History. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply by downloading the info sheet below.

Scholarship Info Sheet  PDF

Scholarship Application Deadline
November 16, 2022, 11:59pm
(no late applications accepted)

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