Art is Life

An online art history course, consisting of two cycles of 4 classes each.
By Alessandra Montalbetti, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

Occasionally we overlook the profoundly inspiring scope of art as an unlimited source of ideas for many aspects of reality that seem unrelated to art. Join us for eight lectures that cover the span of centuries and examine themes that are deeply connected to the history of art, though not always immediately discernable.

Art cannot be separated from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable.

Robert Henri

Art and Alchemy

November 23, 2020 | 7 p.m.

The lecture will examine the true meaning of alchemical knowledge, which is not the transformation of lead into gold, but the continuous improvement of the human intellect. Ancient texts will clarify the often cryptic images of paintings, sculptures, and architecture up to the late 18th century, which marked the end of the Enlightenment. The villas of Bagheria, near Palermo, that are often used as film sets, will offer outstanding examples of architectural images.


November 30, 2020 | 7 p.m.

The art critic Gillo Dorfles emphasized that the effectiveness of an advertisement lies in the “presence of a visual-verbal metaphorical element that is capable of capturing attention through the images and the slogan that accompany it.” How many advertising campaigns catch, if not plagiarize, the world’s artistic heritage precisely because it is so well known and recognizable? The lecture will look at Davide Campari’s close collaboration with Fortunato Depero, at the Sistine Chapel in Nokia’s ads, and art history as retold by Huawei. The conclusive question is always the same: “which product will we buy?”


December 14, 2020 | 7 p.m.

Scholars often emphasized the relationship formed between art and music in the past centuries: Leonardo Da Vinci played the lute and Caravaggio performed The Musicians in Cardinal Del Monte’s living room. The lecture will focus on other artists who have been able to paint music or to play a painting, such as Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky, and Fausto Melotti, who were excellent musical performers, or Pablo Picasso, who embarked on a challenging collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev, and Andy Warhol, who produced musical groups and designed album covers.


December 21, 2020 | 7 p.m.

Food is one of the main themes of artistic representation, from Caravaggio’s highly symbolic still lifes to Paul Cézanne’s philosophical visions. The revolutionary notion of Futurist cooking and the melancholic symbolism of Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte impressed profound changes to the representation of food. More changes came with Gino De Dominicis and Piero Manzoni’s provocative art, and with the Nouveau Réalist Daniel Spoerri’s pieces of Eat Art. Indeed Spoerri defines himself as the proud “Ambassador of Culatello” worldwide.

Second cycle


January 25, 2021 | 7 p.m.

​​​​​Umberto Eco wrote: “The person who does not read lives only one life. The reader lives 5,000. He was there when Cain killed Abel, when Renzo married Lucia, when Leopardi admired the infinite. Reading is immortality going backwards.” This statement is made clear by writers who give a pictorial quality to their narrative descriptions, artists who are inspired by other artists, even when centuries apart, and writers who, with poetic license, narrated the lives of artists.


February 1, 2021 | 7 p.m.

Important philosophers have been the subject of true or idealized portraits through the centuries. Many philosophers influenced artists with their theories, by leading them towards unexplored territories and freeing them from the burden of matter. Some philosophers befriended artists and forced them to change their habits, try different paths, and be surprised by the results. A common bond connects artists and philosophers, since both tend to ask similar questions. The former, however, face a more difficult task when opening up to world and wishing to share their art with everyone else.


February 8, 2021 | 7 p.m.

Some artists came out of their comfort zones and designed innovative fashion collections which are still influential today. Others were inspired by their own art collections and now their garments are exhibited in the most important international museums. Still others surprised everyone with a highly Pop production of Italian national popular culture. It is undeniable that fashion is around us and creates a sophisticated, lively, and rigorous environment of design and creativity, as exemplified by the legendary Miranda in “The Devil Wears Prada.”


February 22, 2021 | 7 p.m.

The celebrated “tenth Muse” was made possible by brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière’s filming and projection cameras, and has knowingly been able to draw inspiration from the other arts that came before it. Some artists choose cinema to narrate contemporary reality, some directors looked at great masterpieces of the past, such as Akira Kurosawa or Stanley Kubrick, and others chose biographical paths, in keeping with the role of “acculturation of the masses” that sociologist Walter Benjamin identified for the cinema.

How to participate
  • Lectures are in Italian, last one hour, and are streamed online on Zoom via a link which will be emailed to those who have enrolled.
  • Members only can enroll. Take advantage of the promotion: you can now join or renew your membership with a 30% discount. Membership is valid for 12 months.
  • The lecture series is available with a donation of €50. Participation in a single lecture is not available.

Lectures are open to members of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection only.

For more information:
Membership Office
+39 041 2405429

Media partner


Official Radio