In Rome, Eight Days in May (and Three in June) at the Academy

The first word that comes to mind is “overstimulating”. In not quite two weeks the American Academy saw an international conference, the opening of a major exhibition, its annual Rome Gala, the Open Studios event (thirteen Fellows participating on three levels of the McKim Mead & White building), the annual Fellows’ Reading, a graduation ceremony (with a farewell to some beloved senior staff), the annual Fellows’ Concert, an introduction to research at the AAR through “Open Stacks”, a Fellows’ collaborative performance at MAXXI and on the Tiber, and a public dialogue on improvisation.

The Academy’s Trustees were in town for much of this, together with the Academy’s new International Council, and they had the opportunity to enjoy all of the above, plus a special program of walks and talks in Rome generated by the Fellows. There was also a major military parade on the Via dei Fori Imperiali to celebrate the 64th anniversary of the creation of the Italian Republic—but fortunately that required no planning on the part of the Academy. Let’s take a look at some images from those events of late May and early June 2010…

Monday 24 May and Tuesday 25 May: conference on Philip Guston: The Late Work, and (25 May) opening of exhibition Philip Guston, Roma

The conference, organized by Andrew Heiskell Arts Director Martin Brody RAAR’02 with Peter Benson Miller, brought together an international group of scholars to discuss the significance of the life-long interest in Italian art and culture of Philip Guston, FAAR’49, RAAR’71, and his late return to figurative painting.

From left, Musa Mayer (Guston Estate), Dore Ashton (Cooper Union), curator Peter Benson Miller

At Guston conference, Bill Berkson (poet and critic)

Alessio Toro (viola) and Oscar Pizzo (piano), following performance of three pieces by Morton Feldman—including Piano Piece (To Philip Guston)—at AAR Guston conference

At Morton Feldman/Guston performance, from left, AAR Director Carmela Vircillo Franklin (FAAR’85, RAAR’02), AAR Trustee Susan Nitze, ex officio Trustee and SOF President Drew Beattie (FAAR’95), AAR Board chair William B. Hart with Constance Eaton

The exhibition, a collaboration between the Museo Carlo Bilotti in Rome and the American Academy, is curated by Peter Benson Miller. The show, which features over 40 works from the series Roma—painted by Guston between 1970 and 1971 but just now shown together for the first time—will remain at the Museo until 5 September 2010.

Guston exhibition curator and conference co-organizer Peter Benson Miller

At Guston, Roma exhibition, AAR President Adele Chatfield-Taylor (FAAR’84) with John Guare

Wednesday 26 May: McKim Medal Gala at the Villa Aurelia, honoring Miuccia Prada

Over 360 guests attended the AAR’s 2010 McKim Medal Gala, which honored fashion and art luminary, Miuccia Prada. The Medal was awarded to Ms. Prada in recognition of her exceptional achievements in fashion and business, as well as for her contributions to the visual arts as co-founder of the Fondazione Prada. Presenting the Medal on behalf of the Academy was Trustee Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale University School of Art. Proceeds of this Gala support Academy fellowships for Italian artists (Italian Affiliated Fellows) and an exchange program in the humanities with the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.

AAR President Adele Chatfield-Taylor (FAAR’84) awarding McKim Medal to Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada with AAR Trustee Robert Storr

Thursday 27 May: Fellows’ Annual Open Studios

The open studios offered to hundreds of visitors a first-hand look at the Academy’s laboratory environment and the work of the 2009-2010 Rome Prize Fellows in the fields of Architecture, Design, Historic Preservation and Conservation, Landscape Architecture, and Visual Arts. The catalog for this spring show, as well as the work of members of the School of Fine Arts whose work appeared in other venues, can be viewed here.

AAR Visiting Artist Julia Fish with Russell Maret FAAR’10 (Design) in his studio

Excerpt from Abigail Child FAAR’10 (Visual Arts), L’Impero Invertito

Nancy Davenport FAAR’10 (Visual Arts)

Matthew Bronski FAAR’10 (Historic Preservation and Conservation)

Above, studio of Lars Lerup FAAR’10 (Architecture); below, Lerup (left) with Doug Argue FAAR’98 and Trustee Mary Margaret Jones FAAR’98

AAR Director Carmela Vircillo Franklin (FAAR’85, RAAR’02) with Jon Calame FAAR’10 (Historic Preservation and Conservation)

Roman artist Steven Meek with AAR International Council member Victoria Smith

Friday 28 May: Fellows’ Annual Reading, followed by Rosette Ceremony

The night started off at 6 PM at the Villa Aurelia, where the 2009-2010 Fellows in Literature, Peter Campion and Eliza Griswold, read from their work. Peter Campion is the recipient of the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust/American Academy of Arts and Letters. Eliza Griswold is the recipient of the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman.

Peter Campion FAAR’10 (Literature)

Eliza Griswold FAAR’10 (Literature)

Griswold, AAR Director Franklin, Campion

Immediately following, Founders’ Hall of the McKim, Mead & White building was the setting for the 2009/10 commencement of the American Academy in Rome. Some thirty Rome Prize winners, affiliated Fellows and Residents received an AAR certificate—and with it, a rosette (for Fellows) and membership in the Society of Fellows.

AAR President Adele Chatfield-Taylor FAAR’84

Stephen Westfall FAAR’10 (Visual Arts) receives his rosette

Outgoing Academy Director Carmela Vircillo Franklin (FAAR’85, RAAR’02) officiated at the ceremony, assisted by AAR President Adele Chatfield-Taylor (FAAR’84), Chairman of the Board of Trustees William B. Hart, and SOF President Drew Beattie (FAAR’95). Carmela Franklin received the Academy’s highest distinction, its Centennial Medal, for her five years of spectacular service as Director. Outgoing Heiskell Arts Director Martin Brody, as well as Associate Director of External Affairs R. William Franklin, received testimonials and commemoration.

AAR Director (2005-2010) Carmela Vircillo Franklin (FAAR’85, RAAR’02). Portrait: Jessica Helfand RAAR’10

AAR Heiskell Arts Director (2007-2010) Martin Brody RAAR’02. Portrait: Jessica Helfand RAAR’10

AAR Associate Director of External Affairs (2005-2010) R. William Franklin. Portrait: Jessica Helfand RAAR’10

Saturday 29 May: Open Stacks, and Fellows’ Annual Concert

To investigate some aspects of ongoing research at the Academy, AAR Trustees visited (on 28 May) the Academy’s archaeology Laboratory and (on 29 May) the Norton-Van Buren Archaeology Study Room, the Photographic Archive, and the Arthur and Janet C. Ross Library. Presenting were Nicola Terrenato (University of Michigan/Gabii Project), AAR Andrew W. Mellon Professor Corey Brennan (FAAR’88), Fototeca Curator Alessandra Capodiferro, current Fellows Luca Caminati, Scott Craver, and Kathryn Blair Moore, and Italian Affiliated Fellow Luca Nostri.

Univ. of Michigan professor Nicola Terrenato (far right), Director of the AAR Summer Program in Archaeology, explains the spectacular lead casket find from Gabii

AAR Italian Affiliated Fellow Luca Nostri (far right) in the AAR Fototeca

At Open Stacks in the AAR Library, from left, current Fellows Scott Craver, Kathryn Blair Moore, and Trustee Susan Nitze

That evening, a concert at the Villa Aurelia presented works by the 2009-2010 Fellows in Musical Composition, Lisa Bielawa and Don Byron. Lisa Bielawa is the Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize Fellow. Don Byron is the Samuel Barber Rome Prize Fellow.

Above, Lisa Bielawa FAAR’10 (Musical Composition) with Brooklyn Rider String Quartet; below, with Brooklyn Rider cellist Eric Jacobsen

Above, Don Byron FAAR’10 (Musical Composition); below, performing with Brooklyn Rider String Quartet

Sunday 30 May and Monday 31 May: Chance Encounter on the Tiber, at MAXXI and the Ponte Sisto

For this collaboration of Lisa Bielawa FAAR’10 (Musical Composition) and Robert Hammond FAAR’10 (Landscape Architecture), you can read a full account here.

Wednesday 2 June: La Festa della Repubblica Italiana

The theme for this 64th anniversary parade was “La Repubblica e le sue Forze Armate impegnate in missioni di pace”.

Thursday 3 June: Lecture by George Lewis & Arnold Davidson, Improvisation as a Way of Life: Time, Form, Technology, Ethics

Here current Resident George Lewis and Visiting Scholar Arnold Davidson contended that the practice of improvisation is not limited to the artistic domain, but is a ubiquitous aspect of everyday life, and that the study of improvisation can lead to new models of intelligibility, agency, expression, and social responsibility.

Current Resident George Lewis (left); Visiting Scholar Arnold Davidson (right)

George Lewis is the Paul Fromm Composer in Residence at the American Academy in Rome and Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. Arnold Davidson is the Laurance P. and Isabel S. Roberts Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome and Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the Divinity School at the University of Chicago.

Above, Davidson and Lewis listen to a question at their Villa Aurelia lecture; below, George Lewis improvises with Terry Adkins FAAR’10 (Visual Arts)

A quiet weekend, and then time to gear up for the Summer Programs!

Wednesday 26 May: Tiber walk for AAR Trustees and members of International Council with Kiel Moe FAAR’10 (in blue, under Pons Fabricius) and Robert Hammond FAAR’10. Photo: Maxine Greenspan (International Council)


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