• Food for thought, a feast for the soul...

  • ...a celebration of the spirit.

The Roots of Classical Realism

Overview: Six week program combining great book discussion, art studio and museum studies, March-April 2018.  

  • Discussion Seminars on “The Figino” by Comanini

  • Museum Studies at the San Antonio Museum of Art,  highlighting Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Renaissance art. Tour plus sketching in the gallery.

  • Life Drawing at the Coppini Academy

BookThe Figino, or On the Purpose of Painting: Art Theory in the Late Renaissance (Toronto Italian Studies) by Gregorio Comanini  Ann Doyle-Anderson (Editor), Giancarlo Maiorino (Editor)


By bringing together 1) seminar discussions on a primary source text in classic art, 2) direct study of museum art objects in a tradition extending back to 4,000 BCE Egypt, and 3) the direct study of the human form from nature herself, this course aims to introduce both the experienced artist and the inquisitive layman alike to a comprehensive appreciation of the roots of mimetic art-making in the West prior to rise of 20th century modernism. This course is not an art history course: works of the past are used as springboards for learning about the way things are today as much as they were yesterday. For as William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is not dead. It is not even past.” We will let the works themselves guide our questioning and our conversations.

In yet another way, this course is not historicist in character. Mimetic art-making  (“realism”) is still alive today and constitutes a vibrant and growing community of artists and art lovers across America, as evidenced by the many classical ateliers – among them including, Juliette Aristides, Sadie Valeri, Tony Ryder, Jacob Collins, Graydon Parrish and so many others – as well as those leading up our very own Coppini Academy of Fine Art in San Antonio, Texas.  The course seeks to open up new pathways of feeling and learning for participants based on their own experience.  The “spirit of inquiry” pervades the design of this course, root to branch.

No prior special experience is required to join this course. All that is required is a desire and readiness to launch into learning.

For the museum and studio practice, drawing/sketching will be presented not as a fine art so much as a liberal art, that is, as a natural means for gaining insight and greater understanding about what we see.  

The course pathway serves the mission of Symposium Great Books institute to provide the highest quality learning opportunities based on the great books in the broader liberal arts tradition – which includes not only great texts, but also paintings and artworks.     

March-April 2018 (Dates TBA)

Week 1: Seminar

Week 2: Museum (SAMA)

Week 3: Studio (Coppini Academy)

Week 4: Seminar

Week 5: Museum (SAMA)

Week 6: Studio (Coppini Academy)

Registration Opens Fall 2018.


The Education Quartet
iSymposium: A Serious Reader's Pathway Through Four Western Classics - Plato's Republic, Dante's Divine Comedy, Rousseau's Emile and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Starting January 2018.
Journey to the East
iSymposium East: A Serious Reader's Pathway through Six Eastern Classics from India, China and Japan
Plato's Meno
September - October 2017, San Antonio, TX
Thucydides' Peloponnesian War
January-March 2018, San Antonio, TX - in conjunction with the San Antonio Museum of Art.  
The Foundations of Classical Art
March-April 2018, San Antonio, TX
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