Posts tagged with "Renaissance":

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Remembering James Sloss Ackerman (1919–2016), the preeminent American scholar of Italian Renaissance architecture

The preeminent American scholar of Italian Renaissance architecture, James Ackerman passed away on December 31. A native of San Francisco, Ackerman trained at Yale and then the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where he studied under a number of prominent European émigrés, most notably Henri Focillon, Erwin Panofsky, and Richard Krautheimer, who eventually served as his dissertation advisor. Yet it was also his experience in the Second World War that shaped his scholarly trajectory. Stationed at the end of the war in northern Italy, he assisted in the transfer of state archives from the Certosa of Pavia as part of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Commission. This direct experience with one of the great buildings of the Renaissance helped lead the young scholar to focus on the architecture of this period. After initially publishing two articles on Lombard architecture, including a now canonical study of the debates surrounding the design of Milan Cathedral, he undertook doctoral research in Florence, where he broke new ground through his exploration of the vast trove of architectural drawings held at the Uffizi. This interest in the media of architecture and modes of representation remained a constant throughout his career, and later expanded to even include architectural photography. His research eventually took him to Rome, where thanks to fellowships from the American Academy in Rome and the Fulbright Commission, he produced the first systematic investigation of the Cortile del Belvedere, the massive structure initiated by Pope Julius II to link the Vatican Palace to a nearby villa. Utilizing physical, graphic, archival, and textual evidence, his dissertation and subsequent book set the standard for monographic studies in the field. Upon returning to the United States, Ackerman took up a position at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught in both the nascent Art History department and the School of Architecture. In 1960, he left for Harvard where he eventually became the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Fine Arts until his retirement in 1990. During his first decade there, Ackerman published monographs on Michelangelo and Palladio, which for the architectural community as whole, he is best remembered. Both still in print, they remain standards thanks to their lucid prose, rigorous scholarship, and synthetic approach. His Palladio (1966) and closely related Palladio’s Villas (1967) also heralded a shift in his scholarship toward a more social, political, and economic interpretation of architecture inspired in part by younger scholars, especially Manfredo Tafuri. While the work of Andrea Palladio continued to captivate Ackerman, as seen both in his later publications and his long involvement with the Palladio Center in Vicenza, from the 1970s onward his interests grew increasingly broader and led to studies on Renaissance art and science, the villa as typology, and a number of other topics. Indeed, like his mentor Krautheimer (who also died at 97), Ackerman remained productive and academically curious until the very end, publishing just this last year the book Origins, Invention, Revision with essays on subjects as diverse as the early history of sketching, Frank Gehry, and Indian architecture. Yet James Ackerman will be remembered for much more than just his prodigious academic output. For over the last half century, he has been the heart and magisterial voice of the discipline of Renaissance architectural history. As a devoted teacher, he stimulated many young architects and shepherded numerous leading figures into the field. He also actively sought to engage the wider public through his educational films Looking for Renaissance Rome (1976) and Palladio the Architect and His Influence in America (1980). Among his many honors, Ackerman was the first architectural historian to be the recipient of the prestigious Balzan Prize. With a portion of the award, he generously established the annual James Ackerman Prize for the History of Architecture, which has enabled the publication of books by emerging scholars across the discipline of architectural history. This commitment to the field and support for young academics was a hallmark of his career. He was also dedicated to a number of institutions, notably serving as editor of Art Bulletin and as a long-time trustee of the American Academy in Rome. James Ackerman was both the last link to a now lost world of academia and a beacon guiding generations of scholars and architects forward in their engagement with Renaissance architecture. For his insightful research, pellucid writing, and dedicated teaching, as well as his service, outreach, and generosity, he set an academic standard for all to emulate.
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James Ackerman, esteemed architectural historian and scholar of Italian Renaissance, has died

The architectural historian James Ackerman has passed away. He died at the age of 97 on December 31, 2016. Ackerman was a prolific scholar of Italian Renaissance architects Michelangelo and Palladio as well as the architectural theory behind the Renaissance itself too. Born in San Francisco on November 8, 1919, he studied at the Cate School in Carpinteria, California, later going on to Yale University and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University where he completed his Ph.D. in 1952. During this WWII, he served in the U.S. Army in Italy which allowed him to sample Italian Renaissance architecture. In 1969, Ackerman became a Slade Professor at Cambridge University; The Slade Professorship of Fine Art is the oldest professorship of art at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and London. Notable books include: Palladio (Architect and Society)The Architecture of MichelangeloThe Villa: Form and Ideology of Country Houses and Distance Points: Studies in Theory and Renaissance Art and Architecture. The Architect's Newspaper will follow-up with a full obituary in the near future.
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Artist creates mesmerizing patterns on the floor of the American Academy in Rome

Based in Los Angeles, designer Bryony Roberts' installation, Primo Piano, covers a distinctive stone floor at the American Academy in Rome with a colorful pattern of decals. The work builds upon the pre-existing two-tone square pattern on the hall's floor. Roberts caters her design adaptations to this context, offering, in her words, a "modest, neo-Renaissance pattern of travertine circles and diamonds inlaid into peperino stone." Surrounding stone motifs, laid around the floors perimeter compliment the the medieval Baroque Cosmatesque flooring that is enriched by the geometric flooring. A clever use of color and "curvilinear forms" helps give the impression of depth too. Roberts has overlaid varying circles and diamonds and squares (all in different and alternating colors) to break the monotony of the existing pattern. At first glance, from an angle, the resulting pattern appears random. This is amplified by the fact that Roberts stuck to a rigid color palette comprising black, pearl grey, and purple. When viewed from above, one can clearly see a sense of rhythm within the artwork. In plan view, this is much more obvious and an even more explicit symmetry can be found when removing certain colors/form overlays. "As the Cosmatesque floors were designed to guide church processions, so this project both responds to and disrupts patterns of movement in the space, producing impromptu choreography as people entering the academy step and dance around the shapes on the floor," Roberts said in a statement. The installation is currently on view at the 2016 Cinque Mostre Exhibition.
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On View> Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting

Building the Picture National Gallery London April 30 through September 2014 At the end of April, the National Gallery will present a new exhibit spotlighting the handling of architecture in various paintings by prominent Italian renaissance artists. Building The Picture will feature works by Duccio, Botticelli, Crivelli and others chosen from the museum's permanent collection along with paintings gathered from other institutions in the U.K. These 14th, 15th, and 16th century images will be complemented by a series of five films that offer contemporary ideas on the theme of real and imagined architecture from Peter Zumthor, filmmaker Martha Fiennes, art historian T. J. Clark, film historian John David Rhodes, and computer game cinematic director Peter Gornstein. The Renaissance bore witness to several breakthroughs in terms of realistic representation, particularly in the realm of architecture. Techniques like perspective enabled artists to depict increasingly life-like architectural compositions. Such skills were used towards the rendering of real structures or the creation of imagined and compelling architectural scenes that still maintained believable spatial qualities. Despite these developments, the period was still largely lacking in the concept of an architectural education, meaning that prominent figures like Brunelleschi and Michelangelo trained in other artistic fields before venturing into building design. Exhibit curators see a contemporary resurgence in these blurred boundaries between art and architecture, a fluidity that is reinforced by the diverse roster of figures contributing to the show's film program. Within Renaissance Art History, architectural compositions traditionally receive second billing to the human figures that populate them. Building the Picture hopes to show how in many cases, buildings acted as foundations for the resultant paintings, dictating the layout and direction of the remainder of the work. The exhibit opens in London on April 30. It will be accompanied by an online catalog permanently available on the National Gallery website.