Archive for April, 2009

AAR ‘ultime notizie’: for late April, a look at what the papers (and e-media) say

April 30, 2009

Don’t ask why it’s taken so long. But starting now on this Weblog’s sidebar, you can track breaking news about the American Academy in Rome and the members of its Society of Fellows via a Google News feed. (Look to the right and scroll down a bit.)

Of course, there will always be more than a few AAR items that escape Google’s automated news aggregator.

For late April, take for instance the waterborne explorations of the Tiber by current Fellow Marie Lorenz; a new book on the cultural history of obelisks co-written by four authors, three of them SOF members (Brian Curran FAAR’94, who has just been appointed Editor of the Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Anthony Grafton RAAR’04, and Pamela O. Long FAAR’04); and a celebration of Atlanta architect Henri V. Jova FAAR’51.

Oh, and two that Google did pick up: 100th birthday celebrations for AAR 2003 Polsky Lecturer Prof. Rita Levi-Montalcini; and a new appreciation of architect and painter Edgar Irving Williams FAAR’12, the younger brother of American poet William Carlos Williams.


States current Fellow Marie Lorenz, “[m]y artwork combines psycho-geographic exploration with highly crafted, material forms. I use boats and navigation in my artwork to create an uncertain space. My belief is that uncertainty brings about a heightened awareness of place. When we feel unstable we see more.”

“I am currently working in Rome on a sailboat that I will use to sail the coast of Italy this Spring. I think of the boat as a kind of drawing tool. It is carved with relief images, like building blocks that I can use to make rubbings of the landscape. It has drawers full of drawing utensils and foldout easels. The deck of the boat is a drawing desk…[T]his boat in its own form will allow me to keep a careful record of my exploration as it unfolds.”

Not all has been smooth sailing for Lorenz’s project, “The Inner Sea”. On her first day out, 4 March, the boat capsized in high winds at Lido di Ostia. Lorenz swam to shore in punishing waves, somehow managing to film the whole cold, wet experience. (See clip above.) And the boat?  “It was basically in one piece”, she observed in her artist’s log, “but large sections were smashed in, as though it had been chewed. What will I do with such a wreck?”

lorenzinnerseaThe answer is try again, this time under oar power. For an absolutely riveting exploration of (especially) the Tiber, see Lorenz’s log entries here (19 April) and here (22 April).

Lorenz and AAR Fellow Traveller Margaret Zamos-Monteith both posted logs about going down the Tiber in the boat last Friday, 24 April. You can experience them here and here. And still much more exploration to come…


aarhvaticanobeliskThe Vatican Obelisk in 1962. Credit: Paul Schutzer/LIFE

SOF Council Vice-President Brian Curran FAAR’94 (associate professor in Penn State’s Department of Art History, and newly appointed Editor of Memoirs of the American Acadedmy in Rome), AAR Trustee Anthony Grafton RAAR’04 (Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University), and independent historian Pamela O. Long’04 have teamed with Benjamin Weiss (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) to write a monumental treatment of the history of obelisks.

The MIT Press describes Obelisk: A History as “a story of technical achievement, imperial conquest, Christian piety and triumphalism, egotism, scholarly brilliance, political hubris, bigoted nationalism, democratic self-assurance, Modernist austerity, and Hollywood kitsch—in short, the story of Western civilization.”

The New York Times ran a piece on Obelisk on 24 April (p. C 32), entitled “Monolith to the Heavens”.

There writer Wendy Moonan described how the book “traces the meaning of the obelisk over 40 centuries, beginning in ancient Egypt. Most of Egypt’s giant ancient obelisks that left home ended up in Europe—London, Paris and Rome—as symbols of military might for the French, Christian piety for the Vatican and conquest for ancient Romans.”

“Why are obelisks so appealing?” asks Moonan. “’There is nothing like an obelisk,’ said Ms. Long, one of the book’s authors. ‘There is something about the shape that is striking: it is immensely heavy and yet looks incredibly delicate. It’s solid but fragile.’”

Worth the price of the book: an appendix entitled “The Wandering Obelisks: A Cheat Sheet.” Here the authors track the highways and by-ways that some famous obelisks took from Egypt to their current locations.


levimontalciniCredit: AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca

The Italian neurologist and Senator-for-Life Rita Levi-Montalcini, who is the oldest living Nobel laureate, celebrated her one hundredth birthday in Rome on April 22. The Italian scientist received the Nobel Prize for Medicine with Stanley Cohen of the United States, in 1986, for discoveries of mechanisms that regulate the growth of cells and organs.

In May 2003 Prof. Levi-Montalcini delivered the Honorable Leon B. Polsky Lecture at the Academy’s Villa Aurelia. The Polsky Lectures were established in 2002 for bringing outstanding scientists to the Academy’s community of artists and scholars in the humanities. On that occasion Levi-Montalcini addressed the themes of a recent book, Tempo di mutamenti. She is Professor Emerita of the Italian National Council of Research and the Washington University, St. Louis.


A new, richly illustrated book by David Roland Rinehart highlights the career of Atlanta architect Henri Jova FAAR’51. It’s titled Henri Jova—A Classical Intermezzo: An Architect’s Life. The Atlanta History Center has published the work, with distribution by the University of Georgia Press. Jova, who is now in his 90th year, retired from architecture in 2004 and now lives in West Palm Beach FL.


A Classical Intermezzo documents Jova’s origins, training, and then rise to a role as a leading architect in the Southeast. Born to a prominent family of Spanish/French origins, Henri Jova was educated at Cornell, served in the South Pacific in World War II, and spent three years at the American Academy in Rome, first on a Rome Prize scholarship and then a Fulbright Fellowship.

In 1954, Jova moved from New York to Atlanta, where he would spend the rest of his career. Jova and his architectural firm, Jova/Daniels/Busby (= JDB, which he co-founded in 1966), were instrumental in building the urban character of the South’s major metropolis, creating significant Atlanta landmarks such as Colony Square (the first multi-use complex to be built in the South), the original Underground Atlanta, Atlanta City Hall Addition, the Atlanta Newspaper Building, the Carter Presidential Center, the Round Bank on Monroe Drive, and more.

The book includes personal stories and more than 170 photographs offering insight into Jova’s life. It details how Jova’s influences at the American Academy included prominent architects George Howe (RAAR’47, ’50) and Louis Kahn (RAAR’51), who shaped his vision as a young architect. Plus the book reproduces a number of Jova’s paintings, which “scream Italy”, as one critic remarked.

This weekend, articles appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Palm Beach Post in tribute to Jova and his work.

Edgar I Williams Portrait aprox. 1930Edgar Irving Williams (1884-1974), the younger brother of poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), held the Rome Prize in Architecture in 1912 and served as an AAR Trustee for almost two decades (1919-1937). For a good stretch of his own lifetime he was widely considered more famous than his brother. One of his most important architectural works is the (endangered) Donnell Library Center of the New York Public Library.

In 1920 Williams designed and donated a World War I monument to Rutherford NJ, which had lost 19 soldiers in the conflict. Originally called “The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument,” it’s a 30-foot-tall Tuscan column on top of a cylindrical pedestal with an octagonal base, all made of cast granite. The monument, which stands at the center of Rutherford, is receiving a thorough makeover by NYC-based preservation firm Wank Adams Slavin Associates, to coincide with the 125th anniversary this year of Edgar William’s birth.

rutherfordmonumentEdgar Williams’ Rutherford (NJ) WWI Monument in 1945. Credit: South Bergenite.


Trustee Thom Mayne, Bruce Nauman RAAR’87, Jessye Norman receive AAR Centennial Medals at 15 April NYC Gala

April 23, 2009

c42_jnSoprano Jessye Norman upon her award of the Centennial Medal of the American Academy in Rome

Cipriani 42nd Street, New York, 15 April 2009.

The American Academy in Rome, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, FAAR’84, President, and William B. Hart, Chairman of the Board, hosted the AAR’s annual Gala dinner. This year’s theme was “Celebrating the Arts”.

c42_act_wh_pd_mdAdele Chatfield-Taylor, FAAR’84, William B. Hart, Paul Davis FAAR’98 and Myrna Davis

Calvin Trillin acted as a (brilliantly effective) Master of Ceremonies at the Gala, where the Academy honored three important American artists with its Centennial Medal.

c42_roomCalvin Trillin onstage at Cipriani 42nd Street

Charlie Rose presented the Medal to architect (and AAR Trustee) Thom Mayne. Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art, honored artist Bruce Nauman RAAR’87. And soprano Jessye Norman received her Medal from Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

c42_bnBruce Nauman, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, Robert Storr

c42_tmThom Mayne, Charlie Rose, Adele Chatfield-Taylor

The American Academy in Rome awards its Centennial Medal to individuals who contribute significantly to the arts and humanities to which the Academy is dedicated. Roy Lichtenstein, RAAR’89, Academy Trustee Emeritus, designed the Medal in 1994 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Academy’s founding.

Co-chairing the NYC dinner were three AAR Trustees: composer Robert Beaser FAAR’78, architect Wendy Evans Joseph FAAR’84, and visual artist Laurie Simmons RAAR’05.

c42_wej_lp_jgTrustee Wendy Evans Joseph FAAR’84, Linda Pollak FAAR’04, Jeanne Giordano FAAR’87

Honorary Chairmen of the event were Mr. and Mrs. Sid R. Bass; H.E. Ambassador and Mrs. Giovanni Castellaneta; Mrs. Henry J. Heinz; Mr. Richard Grubman and Ms. Caroline Mortimer; Mr. and Mrs. H. Charles Price; and H.E. Ambassador and Mrs. Ronald P. Spogli. Four of these Honorary Chairs—Mercedes T. Bass, Drue Heinz, Richard Grubman, and Jessie H. Price—also serve on the Academy’s Board of Trustees.

Proceeds from the NYC Gala will support the ongoing programs of the American Academy in Rome.

Next to come: the McKim Medal Gala, honoring Academy Award-winning composer Ennio Morricone, that takes place 3 June (note new date) in Rome at the American Academy’s Villa Aurelia. Proceeds from that event will go to provide valuable support for fellowships at the AAR for Italian artists and scholars.

c42_ff_mg_mlFred Fisher, FAAR’08, Life Trustee Michael Graves FAAR’62, RAAR’79, and Minxia Lin

AAR Fellows, Residents for 2009/10 announced at Rome Prize Ceremony in New York

April 17, 2009


New York’s Metropolitan Club was the setting on 16 April for the announcement of the 2009/10 Fellows and Residents of the American Academy in Rome at the Arthur and Janet C. Ross Rome Prize Ceremony.

Lots to report—including the details of an electrifying performance at that event by the Cassatt String Quartet of pieces by Academy composers Andrew Norman FAAR’07, Ken Ueno FAAR’07 and Sebastian Currier FAAR’94.

But let’s start with the Rome Prize winners and new Residents, on whom you can read a more detailed account here


Emeline Hill Richardson / Samuel H. Kress Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (year two of a two-year fellowship)
McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia
Patterns of Complexity: An Index and Analysis of Urban Property Investment at Pompeii

Andrew Heiskell Post-Doctoral Rome Prize
Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of San Diego
Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439-700

Frank Brown / Samuel H. Kress Foundation / Helen M. Woodruff Fellowship of the Archaeological Institute of America Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (year one of a two-year fellowship)
New York University Institute of Fine Arts
The Roman Trophy: From Battlefield Marker to Emblem of Power

Lily Auchincloss Post-Doctoral Rome Prize
Assistant Professor, Department of the History of Art and Music, Fordham University
Articulating Power and Status in Late Antique Rome: A Study of Late Roman Pictorial Constellations

Arthur Ross Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize
Department of Classics and the Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford University
Scales of Connectivity in the Late Antique Landscape: Economic Networks in Southern Italy

Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize
Department of Classics and the Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford University
Colonial Religion and Indigenous Society in the Western Mediterranean: Impact, Interactions, and Integrations


Arnold W. Brunner Rome Prize
William Ward Watkin Professor and Dean, School of Architecture, Rice University
After Pantheon: Monuments, Phobias, Awe and their Proxies

Gorham P. Stevens Rome Prize
Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Northeastern University
The Thermodynamic Figuration of Rome


Rolland Rome Prize
Designer / Letterpress Printer / Publisher, Swan & Hoop, New York, NY
The Subterranean Antique Letter

Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize
Multimedia Specialist / Exhibit Developer, Exploratorium Museum, San Francisco, CA
Scientiae Historia Romae: An Interactive Map


National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize
Senior Staff I -Building Technology, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., Waltham, MA
In the Footsteps of Vitruvius: Durability Lessons Learned from In Situ Diagnostic Studies of Original Construction Details

Booth Family Rome Prize
Partner & Operations Officer, Minerva Partners, Portland, ME
Prototypes for Divided Cities: The 16th c. Jewish Ghettos of Venice, Rome, Ferrara, Bologna, and Florence


Garden Club of America Rome Prize
Co-Founder & President, Friends of the Highline, New York, NY
Exploring the Tiber


Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust / American Academy of Arts and Letters
Poet and Assistant Professor, Auburn University
El Dorado

John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman
Writer, The New America Foundation, New York, NY
Tenth Parallel


Donald and Maria Cox Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize
Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University
Throwing Stones at Friars: The Church of San Francesco in Piacenza

Phyllis G. Gordan / Samuel H. Kress Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (year two of a two-year fellowship)
Department of the History of Art, Yale University
In Search of the “Eastern” Image: Sacred Painting in Eighth and Ninth Century Rome

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize
Associate Professor, Department of History, Illinois Wesleyan University
Rome’s Holy Mountain: The Rise and Fall of the Capitoline Hill


Paul Mellon / National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Rome Prize
Associate Professor, Department of Romance Languages & Literature and the Department of Film & Media Studies, Colgate University
The Real Realist: Rossellini, Documentary and the Formation of Neorealist Cinema

Marian and Andrew Heiskell Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize
Department of History, Columbia University
Italian Reconquest of Libya and Relations with the Sanusiya 1922-1931

Millicent Mercer Johnsen Post-Doctoral Rome Prize
Associate Professor, Department of the History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara
S. Paolo fuori le Mura (1823-1930): Architecture, Publicity, and the Invention of Tradition


Frederic A. Juilliard / Walter Damrosch Rome Prize
Composer-in-Residence, Boston Modern Orchestra Project
New work for Brooklyn Rider String Quartet and Lisa Bielawa, composer-vocalist

Samuel Barber Rome Prize
Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Music, University at Albany, State University of New York
A chamber opera based on the novel and film, Gentleman’s Agreement


Samuel H. Kress Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (year one of a two-year fellowship)
New York University Institute of Fine Arts Italian
Copies of Holy Land Architecture: The Illustrated Versions of Niccolà da Poggibonsi’s Libro d’Oltramare

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Rome Prize
Assistant Professor, Department of History, Georgia State University
Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Republic of Knowledge


Jesse Howard, Jr. / Jacob H. Lazarus-Metropolitan Museum of Art Rome Prize
Professor, Department of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania
Flumen Orationis

Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize
Filmmaker and Professor, Film Animation School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
THE PURSUIT: scenes, created in the form of imaginary home movies, from the life of Percy and Mary Shelley

Abigail Cohen Rome Prize
Artist, New York, NY
Pasolini Extras

Jules Guerin / John Armstrong Chaloner Rome Prize
Artist, New York, NY Assistant Professor, Visual Arts, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University; Painting Co-chair, Milton Avery School of the Arts, Bard College
New Paintings in a New Old City


American Academy in Rome Scholar in Residence (History of Art)
Arthur W. Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Henry Wolf Residents in Graphic Design
Winterhouse, Falls Village, CT

American Academy in Rome Scholar in Residence (Modern Italian Studies)
Professor of History John Jay College and the Graduate Center City University of New York, New York, NY

American Academy in Rome Scholar in Residence (Literature)
John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Department of English, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Paul Fromm Composer in Residence
Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music, Columbia University, New York, NY

William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence
Tsao & McKown Architects, New York, NY

Lucy Shoe Meritt Scholar in Residence (Ancient Studies)
Associate Professor of Classical Studies, Boston University, Boston, MA

Roy Lichtenstein Visual Artist in Residence
FRED WILSON Artist, New York, NY

Lester K. Little Scholar in Residence (Medieval Studies)
William B. Hamilton Professor of History, Emeritus Duke University, Durham, NC

metropolitanReception at the Metropolitan Club following the Rome Prize Ceremony

orientationAAR President Adele Chatfield-Taylor FAAR’84 (standing left) welcomes the 2009/10 class of Fellows at its Orientation

Remembering Dorothy Cullman (1918-2009), longtime Trustee and magnificent supporter of the American Academy in Rome

April 13, 2009

cullmancloseTrustees Chuck Close and Dorothy Cullman at the April 2001 AAR Benefit (Cipriani 42nd St.)

The Trustees, Fellows and staff of the American Academy in Rome mourn the loss of our dear longtime Trustee, Dorothy Cullman. She died peacefully on April 6 at home due to complications from a long illness.

Dorothy Cullman served as an extraordinarily engaged member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2004, and after that as a Trustee Emerita.

The Academy counts Dorothy and her husband Lewis B. Cullman among its most generous supporters. The couple endowed Rome Prize fellowships in both the arts (Writing) and the humanities (a pre-doctoral fellowship in Classical Studies). In this, they greatly advanced the AAR’s campaign to endow all of the Rome Prizes and secure their future in good times and bad. A list of winners of these two Prizes follows below.

“Dorothy had an artist’s eye and a scholar’s curiosity,” said the American Academy in Rome this past week in a memorial statement. “But most of all, she was fun. We have lost an irreplaceable friend. Our heartfelt sympathies to Lewis.”

You can read Dennis Hevesi’s 8 April New York Times obituary of Dorothy Cullman here. He notes that Mrs. Cullman was the patron of a “host of arts, science and educational institutions in New York” and further afield, among them The Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History, The New York Public Library, The New York Botanical Garden, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical Center, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Yale University, Purdue University, Human Rights Watch and Planned Parenthood of New York City.

“Mrs. Cullman in particular was a supporter of WNET, the New York public television station,” notes Hevesi. “In 1981 she was a producer of three installments of the PBS series ”Great Performances” devoted to the life and work of Edith Wharton.”

But that long and impressively wide-ranging list gives just a glimpse of Dorothy Cullman’s many artistic and intellectual interests. One might add her support and that of her husband Lewis for Chess-in-the Schools, Enterprise Community Partners, The Library of America, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Municipal Art Society of New York, The Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, Parrish Art Museum in Southampton NY, The Public Theatre, Rockefeller University and other institutions—including, of course, the American Academy in Rome.

As one tribute this week succinctly put it, Dorothy Cullman was “one of New York’s greatest patrons of the visual and performing arts, poetry, science and architecture”.

As an indication of Dorothy Cullman’s reach and impact, one notes that on the very day of her death, hundreds of news outlets worldwide were reporting how funding from the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation had made possible a promising breakthrough in the prevention of stomach cancer.

Besides Mr. Cullman, she is survived by two sons from her first marriage, Bill and Frederick Benenson, and four grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for May.

Winners of the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman
Brad Kessler [current Fellow]
Junot Diaz FAAR’08
Dave King FAAR’07
Aaron Hamburger FAAR’06
Lisa B. Williams FAAR’05
Sarah Arvio FAAR’04
Jennifer S. Clarvoe FAAR’03
Vincent Katz FAAR’02

Winners of the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize in Ancient Studies
Susan A. Curry [current Fellow]
Eleanor M. Rust FAAR’08
Kevin R. Uhalde FAAR’07
Kimberly D. Bowes FAAR’06
Jennifer L. Heuser FAAR’05
Catherine Chin FAAR’04
Perry S. Bell FAAR’03
Adam Rabinowitz FAAR’02
Carlos F. Norena FAAR’01
Darius A. Arya FAAR’00

In addition, winners of Rome Prize Fellowships for 09/10 in each of these two categories will be announced in New York the evening of 16 April.

dcullmanLewis B. and Dorothy Cullman

On a National Day of Mourning in Italy for Abruzzo earthquake victims, ways to help

April 10, 2009

laquilagoogleearthThe terrain of L’Aquila in Abruzzo, from the N by NW as seen by Google Earth

Our Pina Pasquantonio (AAR Assistant Director for Operations, and abruzzese) writes from the American Academy in Rome:

“As many of you may already know the region of Abruzzo and, more specifically, the town of L’Aquila and its immediate surroundings were struck by a terrible earthquake on Monday.  The death toll has risen above 280 and over 20,000 people are homeless.  L’Aquila is a beautiful medieval town and most of its historic monuments have been very seriously damaged, if not destroyed.  The end is not in sight yet as the tremors continue and people are spending nights outside of their homes in cars or in tents.”

“On Friday 10 April there will be a state funeral for the victims.  It has been declared a National Day of Mourning and we will be flying our flags at half mast to show our participation in this moment of great sadness for Italy”

“Those who wish to contribute funds, which is what is most desperately needed, can contribute to the Protezione Civile.  The Protezione Civile is made up of volunteers (like the National Guard except they are all civilians) who intervene when calamity strikes.”

“Contributions can also be made directly to the Regione Abruzzo, or to the Italian Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana). And both Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica are collecting funds for victims of the earthquake.”

Other ways to give are through established institutions such as Caritas Italiana and (or the preservation of the affected cultural patrimony of Abruzzo) the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali.

The community of the American Academy in Rome extends its heartfelt sympathy to the many victims of this massive disaster, and is exploring ways to give as a group to the relief efforts. This Weblog will post updates on how members of the AAR Society of Fellows can help.

laquilapiazzaThe Piazza della Repubblica in L’Aquila, in summer 2008 and then after the 6 April 2009 earthquake. Credits: Google Streetview; Reuters.