In Rome, Taking Stock of a Fast-paced June at the Academy

Before dinner in the AAR Cortile, Wednesday 30 June

Today—the first of July—formally starts the term of the new Director of the American Academy in Rome, Christopher Celenza (FAAR’94), as well as the new Andrew Heiskell Arts Director Karl Kirchwey (FAAR’95). Each arrives at the AAR early next week. In the short interval, it seems worth reflecting on the busy last month of Carmela Vircillo Franklin (FAAR’85, RAAR’02), who directed the Academy from 2005-2010; of her husband, R. William Franklin, Associate Director for External Affairs during that same period; and of Martin Brody, Heiskell Arts Director (January 2008—June 2010).

For June, events at the Academy included a high-level public dialogue on improvisation, a visit by Fellows to the magnificent villa that housed the AAR for twelve of its first years, a reading by noted writer Jamaica Kincaid, a presentation on exploring the subterranean Eternal City, and an international conference on Sigmund Freud and Rome. Plus this short month saw the opening of four separate summer programs at the Academy, an end of year reception for the Friends of the Academy in Italy, and farewells to the departing leadership by the staff of the AAR.

Thursday 3 June: Lecture by George Lewis RAAR’10 & Arnold Davidson, Improvisation as a Way of Life: Time, Form, Technology, Ethics

Following up on the reporting of this joint lecture in a previous blog post, a video excerpt of the event, with Visiting Scholar Arnold Davidson (Chicago/Pisa) at left and current Resident George Lewis (Columbia) at right.

Wednesday 9 June: Fellows’ Visit to the Villa Aurora, former home (1895-1907) of the American Academy in Rome

Above, “L’Aurora” of Guercino, which gives the Villa Aurora its name. Below,  guiding the visit, Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi

The Villa Aurora is the home of Prince of Piombino XIII, Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, and Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, who guided the Fellows on this visit. The Villa Aurora was built ca. 1570 as a country retreat for Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte. It passed to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi in 1621, who developed its grounds (which in part correspond to the ancient Gardens of Sallust) into one of the most magnificent parks in Europe. The Villa takes its name from “L’Aurora” (1621-1623) of Guercino, a dramatic illusionistic fresco in the Villa’s Great Hall. On the second floor, Caravaggio painted the ceiling of the small alchemy workshop of Cardinal del Monte; this painting, “Giove Nettuno Plutone” (1597, rediscovered 1978), is his only known fresco.

For a time  (1895-1907) the Villa Aurora housed the newly-founded American Academy, a few years before its formal merger (1911) with the American School of Classical Studies in Rome. An initial attempt to combine the two institutions at the Villa, described here in an 1895 Harvard Crimson story, lasted just a year.

Two images of the Villa Aurora, across a century. Above: Fellows group (ca. 1907) with AAR Director (1906-1909) George William Breck (FAAR 1899). Below: AAR group (2010) with Mellon Professor Corey Brennan (FAAR’88, at center with tie).

Monday 14 June: Lecture and reading by Jamaica Kincaid

Noted writer Jamaica Kincaid visited the American Academy for an event co-sponsored by the US Embassy Rome and its Cultural Attaché David Mees. Here Kincaid read from her 1990 novel Lucy to a capacity audience, and then answered questions on her past and current work in a rich discussion. Jamaica Kincaid was in Rome in conjunction with the city’s 9th Festival Internazionale delle Letterature, for which she read the following day at the Basilica of Maxentius in the Forum.

Introducing Kincaid, US Ambassador to Italy David H. Thorne

Above, Jamaica Kincaid in audience discussion. Below, from left, Kincaid, AAR Heiskell Arts Director Martin Brody, Alice Waters

Tuesday 15 June (6 PM): Opening reception for the Summer Program in Archaeology, Howard Comfort (FAAR’29) Summer Program in Roman Pottery

A joint reception for members of the Summer Program in Archaeology, directed by Nicola Terrenato (University of Michigan) and the Summer Program in Roman Pottery, directed by former AAR Mellon Professor Archer Martin (Università Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples). Martin is pictured below, to right.

Tuesday 15 June (9 PM): A performance by Terry Adkins FAAR’10, George Lewis RAAR’10 at the Romanian Academy’s “Spazi Aperti”

Annie Labatt, Susanna McFadden, Affiliated Fellow Patricia Tinajero, Peter Campion and Terry Adkins in Adkins’ Paradiso XXVII.

Current Fellow Terry Adkins’ Lone Wolf Recital Corps presented the multimedia works Nenuphar, Corpus Specere, Mute and Paradiso XXVII at the Romanian Academy in Rome as part of a series of events for the exhibition Spazi Aperti on June 15th 2010. The performance featured George Lewis (RAAR’10), Peter Campion (FAAR’10), Blanche Bruce, Annie Labatt (FAAR’10), Susanna McFadden (FAAR’10) and Affiliated Fellow Patricia Tinajero.

From top, George Lewis in Nenuphar; Terry Adkins in Nenuphar; Blanche Bruce in Corpus Specere; image of Bessie Smith in Mute

Wednesday 16 June: Presentation of recent work by members of ROMA SOTTERRANEA

Roma Sotterranea President Adriano Morabito

The Academy hosted an informal presentation of recent work by members of ROMA SOTTERRANEA, an association of archaeologists and speleologists who research and document underground archaeological remains in the city of  Rome in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities.The Association organizes conferences to illustrate the result of their field work, courses in underground exploration, and guided tours to underground sites. Their recent work includes excavation and exploration of sections of the Cloaca Maxima, of the Aqua Virgo, of a number of Christian Catacombs and churches.

The presentation, by Association President Adriano Morabito, was followed by the entire audience visiting an underground stretch of the Aqua Traiana—that lays directly under the Academy’s Lecture Room and extends well below the AAR Cortile. Organizing the event for the Academy was Archaeology Liaison Gianni Ponti.

Top: Adriano Morabito descends into the AAR section of the Aqua Traiana. Middle: Gianni Ponti (AAR) and Michele Concas (Roma Sotterranea). Bottom: AAR Affiliated Fellow Patricia Tinajero (University of Tennessee).

Monday 21 June: Opening of the Classical Summer School of the American Academy in Rome

The 2010 Classical Summer School of the AAR—founded in 1923—kicked off its six-week session with a reception at the McKim, Mead & White building. The Classical Summer School is directed by Gregory Bucher (FAAR’94), with current two-year Kress Fellow Lauren Kinnee as assistant director (pictured below).

Tuesday 22 June: End-of-year reception for the Friends of the Academy in Italy

The Friends of the Academy in Italy honored outgoing Associate Director for External Affairs Bill Franklin, who served in the position from 2005-2010, at its end of year reception. Above, Franklin with Assistant for External Affairs Tina Cancemi. Below, founder and president of the Friends, Elizabeth Helman Minchilli.

Wednesday 23 June-Thursday 24 June: Conference on “Freud’s Rome—Phobia and Phantasy”

Above, “Freud’s Rome” conference in process at S. Pietro in Vincoli. You can read here about this international conference organized by Andreas Mayer of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin in collaboration with Martin Brody and Corey Brennan of the AAR.

Friday 25 June: The AAR staff says ‘arrivederci e grazie’ at a lunch for Carmela and Bill Franklin and Martin Brody

Top, master of ceremonies Pina Pasquantonio, AAR Assistant Director for Operations; middle, Bill and Carmela Franklin; bottom, Martin Brody (left) and Francesco Cagnizzi, AAR Assistant Director for Finance.

Monday 28 June: Opening reception for NEH Summer Seminar

A perfect June evening was the setting for a reception in the Bass Garden for members of the 2010 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar at the AAR. The NEH Summer Seminar—entitled “The ‘Falls of Rome’: The Transformations of Rome in Late Antiquity“—is directed by Michele R. Salzman (FAAR’87, RAAR’08, University of California, Riverside), with Kimberly Bowes (FAAR’06, Cornell University) as assistant director and Darian Totten (FAAR’10) as graduate assistant.

Above, Director Carmela Vircillo Franklin addresses the NEH group. Below, NEH Summer Seminar Director Michele Salzman with art historian Irving Lavin (RAAR’72, ’79).


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