It was five full days, but still it seemed like a whirlwind when the AAR’s Board of Trustees made their annual visit to Rome from 25 May to 29 May. They convened formally in committees and as a whole, took a good look at the institution they support throughout the year, and all across the city squeezed in what cultural activities they could.
While in Rome, the AAR Trustees attended some major annual spring events at the Academy—such as the Open Studios, the McKim Medal Gala, the Fellows’ Reading, and the Fellows’ Concert—learned about many of the Fellows’ projects on walks in and around Rome plus in a special installment of the Conversations That Matter series, and received more than a taste of informal community life (especially in the billiard room).
One of the many highlights of the week was the Saturday 28 May Conversations That Matter program on “Cosmopolitanism”, featuring contributions by six AAR Fellows in a discussion moderated by AAR Director Christopher S. Celenza FAAR’94
The week kicked off for early arrivals among the Trustees at the Villa Aurelia on Tuesday 24 May with the Patricia H. Labalme Friends of the Library Lecture. This year the FOL Lecture was in memory of Christina Huemer (1947-2010), who served as Drue Heinz Librarian at the Academy from 1993-2007.
The featured speaker was AAR Trustee John R. Clarke, RAAR’95, who is Annie Laurie Howard Regents Professor in the Department of Art & Art History, University of Texas at Austin. Professor Clarke discussed “The Story of the Villa ‘of Poppaea’ at Oplontis (50 B.C.-A.D. 79) and its Archives: Daybooks, Photographs, and Plaster Fragments.” Patricia Labalme’s husband George Labalme was in attendance for the Lecture and for each of the other events of the week.
Tuesday 24 May 2011, Friends of the Library Lecture with John R. Clarke (top photo), who spoke to a full Sala Aurelia (middle); at the reception that followed (bottom photo), SOF President and ex officio AAR Trustee Drew Beattie at left, with Trustee Robert Storr
On Wednesday morning 25 May, the Trustees and members of the AAR community the first of an ambitious series of a dozen and a half walks and trips that current Fellows and Advisors of the American Academy in Rome developed.
Serving as group leaders on various excursions were Seth Bernard, Holly Flora, Stephanie Malia Hom, Mark Rabinowitz, Laurie W. Rush, Carly Jane Steinborn, Michael J. Waters (2011 Fellows); Jeffrey Blanchard FAAR’79, Patrizia Cavazzini, Luciana Festa, Claudia La Malfa, Gianni Ponti, Lila Yawn FAAR’98 (Advisors of the American Academy in Rome); Corey Brennan FAAR’88, Alessandra Capodiferro, Karl Kirchwey FAAR’95 (AAR staff); and Life Trustee Michael C.J. Putnam FAAR’64, RAAR’70.
Wednesday 25 May 2011, Walk #1 (of 17): Cinecittà and the Archivio Istituto Luce. The visit included a glimpse of the sets of Gangs of New York and the HBO series Rome, as well as the conservation labs of Cinecittà Luce
Then the evening of Wednesday 25 May saw the Fellows’ annual Open Studios in the Academy’s McKim, Mead & White building. More than 700 members of the Roman public took in presentations by 2011 Fellows Dike Blair, Casey Lance Brown, Thomas Campanella, Felipe Dulzaides, Fritz Haeg, Ersela Kripa & Stephen Mueller, John Matteo, Jeremy Mende, Sarah Oppenheimer, Mark Rabinowitz, Laurie W. Rush, Joshua Stein, Adrian Van Allen, and Karen Yasinsky, with participation by Jennifer Scappettone.
Also featured were AAR Italian Affiliated Fellows in the Arts Giovanna Latis and Marco Raparelli. AAR Residents who opened their studios in the spirit of the event included AAR Trustee Emeritus Chuck Close RAAR’96, Hugh Hardy RAAR’11, and William Kentridge RAAR’11.
The afternoon of Thursday 26 May saw Walk #7 (of 17), led by Michael J. Waters FAAR’11, on “The Materiality of Fifteenth Century Roman Architecture: Tradition, Innovation, Reuse”.
On the evening of Thursday 26 May the AAR held the McKim Medal Gala at the Villa Aurelia. This is a benefit dinner, and its proceeds provide funding for the Academy’s Italian Fellows. This year’s medal recipient was artist Luigi Ontani, whose work served as the overarching symbol of the April 2011 Galileo celebrations at the Academy. The Gala event was chaired by Valentina Moncada di Paternò, with a committee of volunteers, and the AAR’s own staff. You can see a full write-up from Vogue Italia here.
From left, AAR Director Christopher S. Celenza FAAR’94; Chairman of the AAR Board of Trustees William B. Hart; AAR President Adele Chatfield-Taylor FAAR’84; and Gala Chair Valentina Moncada di Paternò. Credit: Gerardo Gaetani d’Aragona
But the truly virtuous were up early Friday morning for a day of themed walks, this time focusing on the age of Galileo.
Friday 27 May, Walk #8: Advisor to the AAR Claudia La Malfa orients her group at the church of S. Ignazio to the topography of “Dominicans and Jesuits in the Age of Galileo”. The walk took in (Jesuit) S. Ignazio and the Collegio Romano, as well as the (Dominican) Biblioteca Casanatense and S. Maria sopra Minerva
Friday 27 May, Walk #10:Castel Gandolfo and the Vatican Observatory. Above, Lago Albano (top) and one of two Vatican observatories (middle) from the roof terrace of the Papal Palace at Castel Gandolfo; at bottom, Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, points out the merits of the 1935 Zeiss reflector telescope to the AAR group. Consolmagno was the featured guest on a 7 April 2011 Conversations That Matter segment
Friday 27 May marked the Fellows’ Annual Reading at the Villa Aurelia, with performances by 2011 Fellows in Literature Jay Hopler and Heather McGowan.
That same Friday night, the façade of the Academy’s 1914 McKim Mead & White main building provided a spectacular backdrop to one of the year’s most memorable rituals, the presentation to Fellows of the rosettes that symbolize their status as alumni/ae, and to Fellows and Affiliated Fellows of “graduate” certificates.
And come Saturday, the walks continued…
Saturday 28 May, Walk #12: AAR Life Trustee Michael C.J. Putnam FAAR’64, RAAR’70 guides an AAR group through the old and new parts of the Protestant Cemetery, with stops at the graves of Keats, Shelley, Corso, Story, Mead, Gramsci and many others
Saturday 28 May, Walk #13: the EUR quarter. Top photo: approaching the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (=”Squared Colosseum”) constructed between 1938-1943. Bottom photo: John Matteo FAAR’11 contributes to the discussion of Pier Luigi Nervi’s Palazzo dello Sport, built for the 1960 Rome Summer Olympic Games
Saturday 28 May, Walk #14: 20th century architectural archives, with visits to the holdings of MAXXI in its iconic Hadid building, and more surprisingly, in the Hendrik Christian Andersen (1872-1940) house museum. Arch. Esmeralda Valente (MAXXI) guided the AAR group. Top: Andersen’s atelier; middle and bottom photos, Enrico Del Debbio’s designs (1928-1932) for Rome’s Foro Mussolini (now Foro Italico)
Then on the afternoon of Saturday 28 May the Academy’s Lecture Room hosted the latest installment of the Conversations That Matter series. This is the third in a string of Conversations that the Academy has held since Christopher S. Celenza FAAR’94 arrived as Director in July 2010. The aim is to engage audiences on current issues that affect people across the globe.
In this Conversation, Fellows briefly discussed a text, a problem in their work, or an image related to “Cosmopolitanism”. Fellows of 2011 participating in the conversation were Seth Bernard, Stephanie Malia Hom, Ersela Kripa, Stephen Mueller, Stéphanie Nadalo, and Barbara Naddeo.
Following the Conversation, on the evening of Saturday 28 May, the Villa Aurelia played host to the Fellows’ Annual Concert, featuring Fellows in Musical Composition Huck Hodge and Paul Rudy.
But wait, there’s more. The plenary meeting of the Board of Trustees on Sunday 29 May was framed by two more walks, on mosaics in medieval Rome (led by current two-year Fellow Carly Jane Steinborn and Holly Flora FAAR’11), and onother closer to home—on archaeological spaces of the AAR. There Advisors of the AAR Gianni Ponti and Luciana Festa acquainted or re-acquainted Trustees with current work pertaining to the conservation of the over 8000 ancient artifacts in the Academy’s care.
Sunday 29 May, Walk #17 (of 17): recent restored statuary from the extensive study collection housed in the AAR’s Norton-Van Buren Seminar Room
A Roman timber (complete with original nail) from one of Caligula’s ships once submerged in Lake Nemi awaits restoration in an AAR storeroom.
For the Trustees who remained in Rome through the evening of Monday 30 May, there was a real treat in store: a shop talk at the AAR by artist William Kentridge entitled “Meeting the World Halfway: A Johannesburg Biography”. William Kentridge is currently the Roy Lichtenstein Artist in Residence at the AAR.
William Kentridge showed a recently completed film and talked about its various starting points in the history of his home town, Johannesburg, South Africa, where he still lives. He also discussed some current projects. The Friends of the Academy in Italy joined members of the AAR community to hear Kentridge’s presentation.
The 2011 Rome annual meeting saw visits by over 70 Trustees and their companions, some staying on a few extra days for a group trip to Padua and (later) the Venice Biennale. In addition, there was also a visit from about a dozen members of the Academy’s International Council, a friends group chaired by AAR Trustee Suzanne Deal Booth. The International Council participated in many of the Trustees’ Week events, as well as enjoying its own dazzling itinerary.