The Academic Body
Wednesday, May 22–Saturday, July 13, 2019
This event is part of the series New Work in the Arts and Humanities: The Body.
Featured artists: Sanford Biggers (2018 Fellow), Patricia Cronin (2007 Fellow), Daniel Chester French, Stephen Greene (1954 Fellow), Ann Hamilton (2017 Resident), Lyle Ashton Harris (2001 Fellow), Tom Johnson/Adrienne Kennedy, Sally Mann, Paul Manship (1912 Fellow), Jessie Marino (2019 Fellow), Beverly McIver (2018 Fellow), Ana Mendieta (1984 Fellow), Wangechi Mutu (2019 Resident), Catherine Opie, Stefan Sagmeister (2019 Resident), David Schutter (2016 Fellow), SISSI (2007 Italian Fellow), Giuseppe Stampone (2014 Italian Fellow), Catherine Wagner (2014 Fellow), and Deborah Willis (2019 Resident).
Since the origins of representation, the human body has been a vehicle for a variety of approaches to artistic expression. As a way of imagining the divine, as a site of ideal beauty and ruminations on mortality, or as the contested ground between nature and culture, bodies—and representations of bodies—index culture’s ideas about itself and mark the locus for the questioning and contestation of the human form.
Recently, the body has reemerged as a work in progress, a canvas to be altered, conforming to changing canons of beauty or constantly evolving constructed gender roles. In this capacity, the body as a malleable form has once again taken center stage in cultural debate and artistic expression. As lightning rods for contemporary social issues—including the violence committed against the marginalized, the recognition of transgender individuals, and the replacement of workers by robotics, to name only a few examples—bodies have assumed unprecedented visibility in political discourse.
Mindful of these issues, this exhibition tracks the ways in which the body has been interrogated and transformed in contemporary art from 1894 to the present. As it has evolved from a stalwart of Academic artistic practice to a laboratory for cutting-edge dialogue between critical theory and creative endeavor, the American Academy in Rome (AAR) is uniquely qualified to host an exhibition tracking the changing representations of the body in art and society. In so doing, the institution reflects critically on its own trajectory and enduring relevance. The Academic Body features work by artists affiliated with the AAR (Fellows and Residents) whose work has explored the above themes in provocative ways, as well as artists whose trajectories have intersected meaningfully and critically with Italy and the Academic tradition.
The exhibition is curated by Mark Robbins, President and CEO of the American Academy in Rome, and Peter Benson Miller, Andrew Heiskell Arts Director. It is made possible by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, the Roy Lichtenstein Artist in Residence Fund, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The exhibition is on view from May 23 to July 13, 2019, Thursday through Saturday, 4:00–7:00pm.