Francesca Fiorani

Professor of Art History

I am an art historian. I look at things. I look at things with my students--things made by artists that fascinate me because they reveal the power of close observation to imagine big ideas, which--one might argue--has always been at the core of creativity and innovation. I grew up in Rome, a city filled with things from antiquity to today, and I came to rely heavily on the first-hand experience of art, from walking in archeological sites to visiting museums, and strolling through buildings. This active looking has helped me bring together things that are apparently unrelated, which explains why I have always been interested in things people created at the intersections of art, science, and technology. I wrote books on Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance science, and paintings, and I created digital platforms for the humanities. But my intellectual journey has always started with the close observation of things around me. This is what I teach my students: to look carefully at things around them and communicate to others what they experience. The hope is that they too will come to see the power of close observation to learn about the people who made, used, and interpreted things.