Aesthetics and Theory of Art

Teaching staff

Ramon Ríspoli

Ramon Ríspoli

Coordinator of the Inclusive Design research line (GREDITS). PhD in History of Architecture and Urban Planning and a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.

Coordinator of the Inclusive Design research line (GREDITS). PhD in History of Architecture and Urban Planning and a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II. Professor of Aesthetics and Iconography and Visual Perception.

Fact sheet

Formal qualifications: Bachelor's Degree in Design

Credits: 6

Semester: 1

Course: First

Typology: Basic Training

Code subject: GDF071


The focus of study for this subject is, primarily, the complex relationship that has been established over time between the realm of aesthetic notions (art, image, beauty, sensitivity, aesthetic experience) and a set of historical and geographical variables (culture, society, politics and economics). In this context, priority will be given to art, its processes of creation and reception, its interpretation and the enjoyment through which we relate to artistic works, intellectualise them and issue judgments of taste.

The main objective of the course, therefore, is to introduce students to the theoretical debate on the idea, the role and the function of art throughout the history of Western culture. We place emphasis on the modern and contemporary age in which consumer culture and technological reproduction of images has caused a substantial transformation of both the object of art and the artistic experience in general.

However, in our age of the global image, beyond what is related to art, the subject also has another objective: to stimulate critical reflection on the image itself (understood as a cultural object that is responsible, very often, for pre-conceived ideological content) by the demonstration and analysis of its complex process of construction.



  • Presentation of the subject. One, many ‘Mona Lisa’; what is art?.

Part I: History of aesthetics

  • The invention of art: Techne and Mousike in ancient Greece. Beauty as mimesis and harmony. The Pythagorean idea of Kosmos. Beauty and art to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
  • Middle Age: beauty as claritas; iconic and naturalistic representation.
  • 15th – 16th centuries: Renaissance and Mannerist aesthetic.
  • 17th century: Baroque.
  • 18th century: Neoclassicism; the Kantian revolution and the formalisation of aesthetics as an autonomous philosophical discipline.
  • A new aesthetic category: the sublime.
  • 19th century: the Romantic aesthetics under German idealism; aestheticism and ‘art pour l'art’.

Part II: Modern and contemporary aesthetics

  • 20th century: the aesthetics of modernity; new means of technical reproduction; the avant-gardes and the breakdown of the classical idea of art. Photography and film.
  • An art for the masses. Art / politics and art / market: the critical aesthetics inspired by Marxism.
  • The second half of the 20th century: informal art and abstract expressionism; pop aesthetics and art as ‘experience’.
  • End of the 20th century: Lyotard, Baudrillard and postmodernism.
  • The contemporary situation: the artwork, the artist, the new viewer, the art market.
  • Liquid or gas? The current art according to Zygmunt Bauman and Yves Michaud.
  • The current beauty: the era of the ‘fuzzy aesthetic’.
  • Other aesthetics: kitsch and camp.



  • The student knows the different declinations on the idea of art and the main concepts of aesthetic theory.
  • They relate their knowledge to different points in cultural history.
  • They value a work of art and, in general, an image as an object for analysis and critical reflection.
  • They make creative proposals from the study of a reference point and the understanding of their poetic approach.
  • They collect and interpret relevant data and information on which to base, when necessary and appropriate, reflections on social, scientific or ethical issues from the field of design.
  • They apply scientific research procedures to the development of their own training and professional activities.
  • They show respect for linguistic, social and cultural diversity.
  • They display the ability to analyse issues from a global and comprehensive perspective by appropriately referencing social, cultural, economic and political factors.



  • SS2. Integration of knowledge and approaches related to cultural, artistic and historical references in design, to practical design projects in creative and innovative ways.
  • SS4. Apply appropriate methodologies and varied research according to the subject matter, both for knowledge management and for formal experimentation and production that meets academic and professional standards.



  • Observation of participation
  • Monitoring of the work produced
  • Reports from students and tutors
  • Specific tests
  • Realisation of works or projects
  • Presentation of projects