Archive for December, 2009

How Sweet It Is: A Gingerbread McKim, Mead & White AAR Building is Constructed in Rome

December 28, 2009

The American Academy in Rome building on the Gianicolo hill (1912-1914) is one of just a handful of  structures outside of the United States designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White—by any reckoning the most prominent designers of the Gilded Age. As it happens, firm partner Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909) was among the founders of the Academy and President of the AAR when the building was first conceived. The building has a clear Renaissance inspiration (which it shares with the MM&W north and south wings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC), with a five-bay facade, a ‘piano nobile’, and an interior courtyard with a Paul Manship (FAAR’12) fountain in its center. It also contains most of the living and working quarters for the Rome Prize Fellows, the Library, a gallery and administrative offices, plus public rooms for many of the Academy’s events.

And now, thanks to the efforts of current Fellows Kiel Moe, Jon Calame, and a host of helping hands, the Academy’s MM&W building has been realized for the 2009 holiday season in gingerbread and gumdrops. It’s something approaching 1:100 scale, carefully constructed from the original plans. The universal reaction so far from Academy alums and friends: “Don’t eat it!”. Here’s a photo essay on how this sugary architectural wonder—all dedicated to the Academy’s Kitchen staff—came to be. Photo thanks throughout: Jon Calame and Pamela Keech (FAAR’82). (more…)


At the Academy in Rome, Opening Up Off-Limits Italy

December 21, 2009

AAR Fellow Matthew Bronski investigates burial niches (columbaria) underground in Rome’s Doria Pamphili park. Photo: Diana Mellon

AAR Arts and Humanities Intern Diana Mellon writes:

In his first few months at the Academy, current Fellow Matthew Bronski has already gained access to scaffolding on the colonnade of St. Peter’s, consolidation works on the Palazzo Braschi, and restricted areas in Herculaneum. “If one is to do this type of work, binoculars just don’t suffice,” he says. “You really have to be hands-on. You have to be right there, have your face in the materials and be able to even poke and prod a little bit and see what’s happening.” Matthew’s historic preservation project aims to understand the physical strengths and weaknesses of ageing buildings of all time periods through up-close observation. “That’s really one of the most essential parts of my project. It’s really, in my case, the primary research,” he says. (more…)

In Rome, ‘Performing Voices’ and the Week that Followed

December 16, 2009

At the Academy’s Villa Aurelia, soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci and pianist Donald Sulzen receive a standing ovation from “Performing Voices” participants

It’s been quite a month at the American Academy in Rome—and it’s not much more than half over. Following hard on the heels of the Academy’s much-praised 2 December Cabaret in NYC, came a blockbuster conference in Rome, co-sponsored by the AAR and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. Entitled “Performing Voices: Between Embodiment and Mediation”, this ambitious conference ran for three days (Friday 4 December-Sunday 6 December) at the Academy’s Villa Aurelia. Co-facilitating were Martin Brody (RAAR’02), Heiskell Arts Director at the AAR, and Julia Kursell and Andreas Mayer, Research Scholars at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

The aim of the conference was to foster a new understanding of the paradox of the singing voice, by bringing together singers, scientists, historians, philosophers, and musicologists. Carmela Vircillo Franklin (FAAR’85, RAAR’02), AAR Director, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, jointly introduced the proceedings. A thrilling centerpiece of the conference was a recital at the Villa Aurelia, Echi della Belle Époque, by soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci and pianist Donald Sulzen.


In Rome, ‘Flying Soles’ Showcases the Work of NY Designer Lincoln Brown

December 7, 2009

In Rome, the American Academy unveils this week a long-anticipated  exhibition of the work of fashion designer Lincoln Brown, curated by Ester Coen and Lexi Eberspacher.

 The show opens Thursday 10 December from 18.00 to 21.00, and remains on view by appointment through 14 January 2010. Founder of Lincoln’s NY, Lincoln Brown is a noted designer of shoes and accessories. His work has won over style-conscious celebrities such as the artist Enzo Cucchi, the designer Anna Sui, the actress Halle Berry, and the musician Mary J. Blige—to name just a few.

The exhibition “Flying Soles” features Lincoln’s NY‘s one-of-a-kind, dazzling and hand-made shoes.  

Plus the event aims to cross over the threshold of the American Academy, and reach into the center of Rome. See a narrated slideshow of the exhibit here. (more…)