Fabio Tononi

PhD Student

 

Continuing MPhil/PhD Student

Fabio.Tononi@postgrad.sas.ac.uk

Thesis Title

Aesthetic Response to the Unfinished: Imagination, Observational Learning, Empathy. A Study in the Neuroscience of Artistic Representation

Supervisors - David Freedberg and Manos Tsakiris

Research interests
Aesthetics | Philosophy of Mind | Philosophy of Perception | Psychology | Neuroscience | Free Will | Self | Florentine Renaissance Drawing | Italian Renaissance Mural Painting | Early Modern Art Theory | Western Art and Photography of the 20th and 21st Century | Plato | Baruch Spinoza | Aby Warburg

 
Profile

Fabio Tononi is a PhD candidate in Art History at the Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study. Tononi’s research focuses on the aesthetic response to unfinished works of art, explored from a neuroscientific perspective. His studies encompass topics such as empathy, memory, imagination, prediction error minimization, and perception of emotions and implied motions in the visual arts, integrating art history with cognitive neurosciences. Furthermore, his expertise includes the fresco cycles in Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara and in the Chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio in Orvieto, the artistic partnership between Michelangelo Buonarroti and Sebastiano del Piombo, the Michelangelo’s sculptural work, and the Italian Art from 1940s to 1960s.

 
Research

The aim of the project is to investigate the phenomenon of the unfinished in visual arts, as it was understood both in Classical Antiquity and in the Florentine Renaissance Workshop, when it reemerged for the first time. This study is involved not only in the survival of the ancient concept of the unfinished and its forms in the Renaissance, but also considers the biological elements underlying cultural expression. The study of cultural history and the history of art and images is therefore integrated with the cognitive neurosciences with the purpose to understand how the human brain processes incomplete images. Particular attention is devoted to unfinished drawings, understood as artist’s first idea, or thought, which allow the beholder, and also the scholar, not only to better understand the practices and methods of the artistic creation, but also to imagine the parts of the figures which are missing. In this sense, the second part of the research is concentrated on issues of empathy, embodiment and imaginative responses.

 

Working Experience

2017–2018: Conference Assistant. The Warburg Institute.

2016–2018: Student Tutor in Renaissance Italian. The Warburg Institute.

2011–2012: Tutor in History of Art. Academy of Fine Arts of Florence.          

Internship

2011–2012: Assistant Archivist. Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center For Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence.

 
Conference Presentations

“The Future of Art History: Motion, Emotion, Memory and Imagination from Aby Warburg to Cognitive Neurosciences”, Memories of the Future International Conference, Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 29-30 March 2019.

“A Living Sculpture in the New Sacristy: A Neuroscientific Perspective on Animism”, Conference, ‘Livelier than Life’: The Life of Art in Early Modern Europe, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, 6-7 September 2018.

“The ‘Unfinished’ in the Visual Arts: Definition, Categories and Neuroscientific Responses”, Director’s Work in Progress Seminar, The Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study, 6 June 2018.

“Beyond Vision: The Relationship between the Phenomenon of the Unfinished in the Visual Arts and the Theory of Ideas”, The Royal Holloway History Postgraduate Seminar, Royal Holloway, University of London, 11 April 2018.

“Humanism and the Making of Identity in the Fresco Cycle of the Room of the Months at Palazzo Schifanoia”, Seminar, Italian Mural Painting and the Making of Visual Cultures 1400–1500, Directed by Dr Joanne Anderson, The Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study, 8 March 2016.

“Towards an Interpretation of Gestures and Emotions in Luca Signorelli’s San Brizio Chapel of Orvieto (1499–1504)”, Seminar, Iconology, Directed by Dr Joanne Anderson, The Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study, 8 December 2015.

“Francesco Hayez e l’Unità d’Italia”, Seminario di Storia dell’Europa Contemporanea, Directed by Professor Paul Ginsborg, University of Florence, 21 September 2011.

“Narrazioni identitarie e critica d’arte (1963–2009)”, Seminario di Storia dell’Arte Contemporanea, Directed by Professor Maria Grazia Messina, University of Florence, 1 June 2011.

 

Academic Activities and Affiliations

2018–Present: Co-organiser of the Erasmus and Luther on Free Will Seminar, The Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study.

2018–Present: Member of the Committee of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London, School of Advanced Study.

2018: Co-organiser and Chair of The Warburg Institute Postgraduate Symposium 2018 “Mnemonic Waves”, The Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study, 15 November 2018.

2018: Participation at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern.

2017–Present: Member of the Graphic Arts Group, The Courtauld Institute of Art and The British Museum.

2017–Present: Member of the Works on Paper Study Group, The Courtauld Institute of Art.

2017–2018: Second year PhD student representative.

2017: Participation at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern.

2015–2016: MA student representative.

2012–2013: Participation at the project Villa I Tatti: An Oral History, Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center For Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence.

 

Education

PhD candidate in History of Art. The Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study

MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture. The Warburg Institute, University of London, School of Advanced Study / The National Gallery of London
Graduated with a dissertation titled “Steps toward a Neuroscientific Account of Responses to Unfinished Works of Art” (supervised by Professor David Freedberg, Director of the Warburg Institute). Studied Latin; French; Italian paleography; archive skills; iconology; curatorship; Renaissance philosophy; Italian mural painting 1400-1500.

MA in History of Art. University of Florence
Graduated in Modern Art with a thesis titled “Fabio Mauri’s Theoretical Work (1954–1980): An Italian Example of Institutional Critique” (supervised by Professor Maria Grazia Messina).

BA in Artistic, Theatrical, Cinematographic and New Media Heritage. University of Parma
Graduated in Modern Art with a thesis titled “Ernesto Treccani (1940–1950): Between Corrente and the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti” (supervised by Professor Arturo Carlo Quintavalle).