American overseas center for independent
study and advanced research in the fine arts and the humanities. Here is
how they present themselves on their website:
Inspired by their comradeship in
organizing America's contribution to the fine arts at the World's Columbian
Exposition in 1893, a group, including architects Charles Follen McKim and
Daniel Burnham, painters John La Farge and Francis Millet, and sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French, resolved to
create a center to study art amid the classical tradition of ancient Rome.
Rome was chosen as the site of the Academy because "with the architectural
and sculptural monuments and mural paintings, its galleries filled with the
chef d'oeuvres of every epoch, no other city offers such a field for study
or an atmosphere so replete with precedents." In 1894, with the support
of Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., William K.
Vanderbilt and Henry Clay Frick, the new American School of Architecture
was founded in Rome. A year later the American School of Classical Studies
in Rome was formed by the Archaeological Institute of America, and in 1913,
a union between the two Schools became what is now the American Academy in
The American Academy sponsors scholarly
and artistic development chiefly through the Rome Prize. The Prize,
awarded on the basis of a juried competition, currently offers a period of residency
(with a stipend) from 6 months to 2 years in Rome at the Academy. There are
approximately 30 fellows at any given time in two broad areas: the arts and
the humanities. Arts prizes are awarded for architecture, design, historic
preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, musical
composition, and the visual arts. Humanities prizes are awarded for ancient
studies, medieval studies, renaissance and early modern studies, and modern Italian studies. Within
these overarching humanities categories fellows pursue scholarly projects in literature, history, art
history, archeology and related fields. In addition to the fellows, there are
residents, generally senior practitioners, who stay in Rome for a shorter period
pursuing specific projects, and a variety of visiting artists and scholars.
The total community (not counting families) runs to about 75 persons at any
Fellows offer a public lecture on
their work if a scholar, or participate in a year-end exhibition if a practicing
artist, but are not otherwise accountable for their time while in Rome (a proven
track record of getting things done is key to a successful application).
The Academy offers a series of walks and talks about Rome to introduce any interested
fellows to the monuments and museums
of the city, and also helps with introductions into the Italian scholarly and
artistic communities. While a knowledge of Italian is not requisite, it is
Fellows and residents are given living
quarters in the Academy itself or, if they have families, more capacious apartments
in the Academy neighborhood. Lunch and dinner are provided, and there is a bar and billiards room on premises, as well as beautiful gardens. Access is also granted on
a 24/7 basis to the Academy's library, which is fair to excellent in the special
fields covered by Rome Prizes, best in classics.
In Rome, the Academy is situated
on the highest point once within the walls of ancient Rome on the Janiculum Hill.
The two main centers it occupies are a palazzo, designed by McKim, Meade,
and White, and the nearby Villa Aurelia--built (in 1650) for Cardinal Gerolamo
Farnese and acquired by the Academy in 1911--where special guests and formal
events are hosted. A stone's throw from the Academy is the wonderful Villa Doria
Pamphili, a vast park with refreshing breezes and ample jogging paths. A few
minutes' walk downhill puts you in the middle of Trastevere, the portion of
the ancient city on the northern bank of the Tiber.
The Academy's origins are solidly
in the realm of Gilded Age entrepreneurial wealth and the artists who moved in that social
register. The Academy had an elite reputation for its first 75 years, but in
recent decades Rome Prizes have been held by a highly diverse group of fellows;
the support of Vanderbilts and Rockefellers has been replaced by that primarily
of the socially and artistically smart New York set, and the result has been
generally salutary for the institution, which was in crisis in the 70s and 80s. A modest
shift in the institution's emphasis from classical studies to the arts is causing
tensions but has not visibly weakened its great tradition of classical scholarship.
Hundreds of interesting fellows and residents have
passed through the Academy. Here are a few prominent ones:
John Russell Pope (1897), architect
Paul Manship (1912), artist
Lily Ross Taylor (1918), classicist
Howard Hanson (1924), composer
Roger Sessions (1931), composer
Frank Brown (1933), classicist
Samuel Barber (1937), composer
Philip Guston (1949), artist
Aaron Copland (1951), composer
James Ackerman (1952), art historian
William Styron (1953), writer
Robert Venturi (1956), architect
Richard Krautheimer (1956, 1968), art historian
Archibald MacLeish (1957), writer
Ralph Ellison (1957), writer
Howard Hibbard (1958), art historian
Edward Durrell Stone (1960), architect
Michael Graves (1960), architect
Joseph Brodsky (1961), writer
Charles Segal (1963), classicist
Michael Putnam (1964), classicist
Siegfried Giedion (1966), art historian
Laurie Olin (1974), landscape architect
Dan Kiley (1976), landscape architect
John Pinto (1975), art historian
Frank Stella (1983), artist
Oscar Hijuelos (1986), writer
Herbert Bloch (1987), classicist
Roy Lichtenstein (1989), artist
Leonard Nimoy (2001), photographer
One great architect who was offered a Rome Prize (by Daniel L. Burnham, one of the Academy's founders)
in about 1902 but turned it down was Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright, heavily under the influence of
Louis Sullivan, couldn't stomach the beaux arts classicizing architecture which was the academy's stock-in-trade in that period.
The Academy's president is Adele
Chatfield Taylor, who operates out of the Academy's New York office at 7 East 60 Street (10022-1001). In Rome the director is (as of 2005) Professor Carmela Vircillo Franklin; The Academy's address is Via
Angelo Masina 5, 00153 Roma.
The Academy's website (www.aarome.org)
offers much information about the institution, its programs, and how to apply
for a Rome Prize.
In addition, the following fill in the history and offer names:
Kohl, B., Linker, W., and Kavelman, B., eds. The Centennial Directory of
the American Academy in Rome (1995).
Scott, R., and Rosenthal, P. The Academy & the Forum. One Hundred Years
in the Eternal City (1996).
Valentine, L., and Valentine, A. The American Academy in Rome 1894-1969
Yegül, F. Gentlemen of Instinct and Breeding. Architecture at the American
Academy in Rome, 1894-1940 (1991).