One of the most prized traditions of the American Academy in Rome is its series of walks and talks, a collaborative enterprise where Fellows explore the city or (often) points further afield under expert direction by one or more group leaders. On a given occasion the leadership might come from a member of the Rome staff, a current Fellow, a Resident, an Academy Trustee, an authority from beyond the walls of the Academy, or any combination of the above.
On the afternoon of Thursday 16 September, Andrew W. Mellon Professor Corey Brennan FAAR’88 kicked off the 2011/11 series of walks and talks with an introduction to the Forum in its modern context. Over 40 members of the community—including Fellows’ children—took in a dozen or so high points of the civic center of ancient Rome. The special focus was on 19th and 20th century reconstruction efforts, plus the history of Academy excavations in the Forum (most recently, those of former Mellon Professor Russell T. Scott FAAR’64, RAAR’79 in the Atrium of the Vestal Virgins), all as a springboard for future visits.
After the Roman Forum walk, new Heiskell Arts Director Karl Kirchwey FAAR’95 accompanied a group of Fellows and Visiting Artists to the opening of a show by Austrian artist Franz West at the Gagosian Rome Gallery.
An exuberant capacity crowd of more than 150 people attended the opening and spilled out onto Via Francesco Crispi. On display were a series of colossal papier-mache figures by Franz West painted in luscious glazed pastel colors and often balanced, as one AAR guest commented, “like an elephant standing on one foot at the circus.”
The opening also featured video installations and a live performance or enactment of one of Franz West’s works (above).
Those attending included Fellows Jennifer Scappettone, Joshua Stein, Barbara Naddeo and family, and Felipe Dulziades and family, as well as Visiting Artists Jeffrey Bishop, Lynn Glazer and Star Black. Also attending was Fellow Dike Blair and his wife Marie Abma; a show of Dike Blair’s own work opened recently at Gagosian in New York, where it remains on display through 30 October.