The American Academy in Rome
Last night we attended the opening of the Cinque Mostre 2015, the annual art show at the American Academy in Rome. We walked for about 20 minutes from our house up a series of stairway passages in Trastevere to the top of the Janiculum where the AAR is located. After admiring the sweeping view of the city below, we turned onto what felt like a quiet suburban street to find the magnificent McKim, Mead and White palazzo that is the home of the AAR. The event took place throughout many areas of the property, with drinks served in the cortile (arcade) surrounding the central garden. From a fantastical chemistry project-like work in the building’s cryptoporticus (a white brick-walled semi-basement with a curved ceiling) to a performance piece in the library featuring 2 live falcons, the range of work was wide and extremely intriguing. But exploring the building itself was half the fun: the grand palazzo is minimally furnished, with consistent light fixtures throughout and simple furniture that seem to have elegantly aged with the structure itself. Some large art works can be found on the walls of the public spaces, such as a black and white Chuck Close piece over the mantle of the living room, but largely the space is magnificent in its restrained decor. With its outdoor spaces expertly lit for this evening function, the Academy was dazzling. Finding the Academy bar with its sketches of previous Rome Prize winners was an added delight.