20 Books by AAR Fellows and Residents to Read This Spring

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Almost every month sees the publication of a new book by or featuring a Fellow or Resident of the American Academy in Rome. From a new book by Caroline Cheung (2017 Fellow) exploring the importance of Roman wine containers (dolia) to a survey of the late architect and 1985 Fellow Antoine Predock, we have assembled a partial selection of AAR Fellows and Residents' output to create this spring reading list. From academic books to memoirs to new exhibition catalogues, there is something for every reader. 

The Academy has curated this list for editorial purposes only. We receive no commission whatsoever if books are purchased through any of the below links. Book descriptions are drawn from publishers’ synopses. Prices are accurate at the date of publishing. 

Nonfiction: Humanities

Dolia: The Containers That Made Rome an Empire of Wine
By Caroline Cheung (2017 Fellow)
From $55.00 on Amazon and $66.00 on Bookshop 

The average resident of ancient Rome drank two-hundred-and-fifty liters of wine a year, almost a bottle a day, and the total annual volume of wine consumed in the imperial capital would have overflowed the Pantheon. But Rome was too densely developed and populated to produce its own food, let alone wine. How were the Romans able to get so much wine? The key was the dolium―the ancient world’s largest type of ceramic wine and food storage and shipping container, some of which could hold as much as two-thousand liters. In Dolia, classicist and archaeologist Caroline Cheung tells the story of these vessels―from their emergence and evolution to their major impact on trade and their eventual disappearance. Princeton University Press, hardcover, 344 pages.

Illuminating the Vitae partum: The Lives of Desert Saints in Fourteenth-Century Italy
By Denva Gallant (2023 Fellow)
From $94.95 on Amazon and $113.94 on Bookshop (preorder)  

This book was researched and written in part during Gallant’s Rome Prize Fellowship. During the fourteenth century in Western Europe, there was a growing interest in imitating the practices of a group of hermits known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Laypeople and religious alike learned about their rituals not only through readings from the Vitae patrum (Lives of the Desert Fathers) and sermons but also through the images that brought their stories to life. In this volume, Denva Gallant examines the Morgan Library’s richly illustrated manuscript of the Vitae patrum (MS M.626), whose extraordinary artworks witness the rise of the eremitic ideal and its impact on the visual culture of late medieval Italy. Penn State University Press, hardcover, 168 pages.

Life: The Natural History of an Early Christian Universe
By Catherine Michael Chin (2004 Fellow) 
From $27.11 (paperback) and $85.00 (hardcover) on Amazon and $29.95 (paperback) and $102.00 (hardcover) on Bookshop 

Life immerses the reader in the cosmic sea of existences that made up the late ancient Mediterranean world. Loosely structured around events in the biography of one early Christian writer and traveler, this book weaves together the philosophical, religious, sensory, and scientific worlds of the later Roman Empire to tell the story of how human lives were lived under different natural and spiritual laws than those we now know today. University of California Press, hardcover and paperback, 258 pages.

Traveling Auteurs: The Geopolitics of Postwar Italian Cinema
By Luca Caminati (2010 Fellow)
From $70.00 on Amazon and $84.00 on Bookshop (preorder)

What tensions characterized the relationships between cinema, European Leftists, and emerging postcolonial ideologies after World War II? In Traveling Auteurs, author Luca Caminati analyzes the work of influential Italian filmmakers Roberto Rossellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Michelangelo Antonioni as they engaged politically and aesthetically with the global landscapes and politics of the Cold War period. As documentaries, the films considered in this book record specific manifestations of political sensibilities of the twentieth century. As bodies of work, they reveal that the traveling auteurs who made them were symptomatic actors in complex geopolitical networks. As cultural objects reflecting and shaping contemporaneous debates, they provoke a complex afterlife at home and abroad. Indiana University Press, hardcover, 220 pages.

Power, Image, and Memory: Historical Subjects in Art
By Peter J. Holliday (1995 Fellow)
From $35.00 on Amazon and $40.25 on Bookshop

Those who write history determine its narrative, whether through written text or through the visual language of art and public monuments. Power, Image, and Memory examines a wide variety of artistic traditions, showing how art commemorating historical events can shape collective memory, and with it, the identities of social groups and nations. Oxford University Press, hardcover, 288 pages.

Unbound from Rome: Art and Craft in a Fluid Landscape, ca. 650-250 BCE
By John North Hopkins (2009 Fellow)
From $75.00 on Amazon and $90.00 on Bookshop 

Roman art and architecture is typically understood as being bound in some ways to a political event or as a series of aesthetic choices and experiences stemming from a center in Rome itself. Moving beyond the misleading catchall label “Roman,” John North Hopkins aims to untangle the many peoples whose diverse cultures and traditions contributed to Rome’s visual culture over a four-hundred-year time span across the first millennium BCE. Yale University Press, hardcover, 248 pages.

Rebuilding St. Paul’s Outside the Walls: Architecture and the Catholic Revival in the 19th Century
By Richard Wittman (2010 Fellow)
From $130.00 on Amazon and $143.00 on Bookshop

In 1823, the fourth-century basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome was destroyed by a catastrophic fire, prompting debate as to whether, and in what style, it should be reconstructed. Two years later, Pope Leo XII made the unprecedented decision to rebuild St. Paul's as an exact replica of its predecessor, which resulted in the most expensive construction project in Rome since the early modern rebuilding of St. Peter's. In this study, Richard Wittman traces this reconstruction within the context of the Church's struggle to adapt to a radically changed and changing world. He offers new perspectives on European architectural modernity and its negotiations with the past, and problematizes received ideas about the sources and significance of architectural historicism. Proposing a new prehistory of the great Catholic revival after 1850, Wittman's study demonstrates the key role that religions motivations played in the formation of modern mentalities, and particularly the historicist component. Cambridge University Press, hardcover, 448 pages.

Housing the Nation: Social Equity, Architecture, and the Future of Affordable Housing
Coedited by Alexander Gorlin (1984 Fellow) and Victoria Newhouse (Trustee Emerita)  
From $28.49 on Amazon and $39.95 on Bookshop 

On any given night, more than 650,000 people in the United States—many with families and full-time jobs—experience homelessness. The shortfall in affordable housing is estimated to be 5 million units or more. Devastating effects of these conditions include an increase in multigenerational poverty, a decrease in economic mobility, and—since the housing crisis has a disproportionate impact on communities of color—a heightening of racial injustice. Assembled here are essays by economists, scholars, architects, planners, and community organizers to address diverse aspects of the subject. Rizzoli, paperback, 240 pages.

Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Vitruvius 
Coedited by Sinclair W. Bell (2003 Fellow) and Ingrid Rowland (1982 Fellow, 2000 Resident)  
From $264.00 on Amazon and $303.60 on Bookshop 

Edited by two Fellows, this collection of 26 original essays by an international team of leading scholars investigates the influence and reception of the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in ideas, artistic forms, and building practices from antiquity to modern day. Brill, hardcover, 747 pages.

Nonfiction: Art, Architecture, and Criticism 

The Art of Architectural Grafting  
By Jeanne Gang (2017 Resident)
From $35.98 on Amazon and $46.00 on Bookshop 

Jeanne Gang, one of America’s most distinguished contemporary architects, proposes applying the plant cultivation technique of grafting to architecture and urban design as a way of rethinking adaptive reuse and combatting climate change. Grafting is the process of connecting two separate living plants—one old and one new—so they can grow and thrive as one. This ancient practice continues to be performed today in search of more fruitful, palatable, and resilient varieties of plants. Park Books, hardcover, 180 pages.

Determined to Be: The Sculpture of John Rhoden (1955 Fellow)
Edited by Brittany Webb 
From $42.18 on Amazon and $46.50 on Bookshop

Determined to Be explores the work of prize-winning American sculptor John Walter Rhoden (1916–2001), who was the first Black visual artist to win the Rome Prize. In this exhibition catalogue, scholars explore various aspects of Rhoden's life and career, including how the artist was shaped by his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, and his training and professional networks. Essays also consider how his time in Italy and his years in Indonesia expanded the scale and scope of his sculpture. Other topics include Rhoden's travels, public commissions, and oeuvre in the context of Cold War modernism, as well as media coverage of his career in the mainstream and Black press. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, hardcover, 188 pages.

Temporary Monuments: Art, Land, and America's Racial Enterprise
By Rebecca Zorach (2021 Resident)
From $30.00 (paperback) and $99.00 (hardcover) on Amazon and $36.00 (paperback) and $118.80 (hardcover) on Bookshop 

Art has long played a key role in constructing how people understand and imagine America. Starting with contemporary controversies over public monuments in the United States, Rebecca Zorach carefully examines the place of art in the occupation of land and the upholding of White power in the US, arguing that it has been central to the design of America’s racial enterprise. Confronting closely held assumptions of art history, Zorach looks to the intersections of art, nature, race, and place, working through a series of symbolic spaces—the museum, the wild, islands, gardens, home, and walls and borders—to open and extend conversations on the political implications of art and design. University of Chicago Press, hardcover and paperback, 296 and 304 pages, respectively.

Alex Katz: Autumn
By Alex Katz (1984 Resident) (artist) and Vincent Katz (2002 Fellow) (contributor) 
From $32.80 on Amazon and $37.20 on Bookshop

For his new series painted in 2022 and 2023, American artist Alex Katz pushes his palette to an intense range of high-key blues, deep reds and pinks, and golden yellows to most fully express the color of the changing season. Autumn follows the eponymous exhibition at Gray Gallery in Chicago: Katz’s tenth solo exhibition at this venue and his first exhibition of large-scale landscapes since 2018. The increasingly abstract new compositions are anchored by strong black paint strokes, contrasting the architecture of the tree branches against the brilliantly hued leaves and sky. Other works in the exhibition, from the related series Field’s End and Tree Top, offer more subtle landscapes in muted greens, yellows and grays. This catalog includes color plates of all these works, and opens with a new poem by the artist’s son Vincent Katz (2002 Fellow). GRAY, hardcover, 138 pages.

David Hammons: Day’s End
By Adam Weinberg (2020 and 2022 Resident), Guy Nordenson (2009 Resident), Kellie Jones, and Ben Okri
From $45.00 on Amazon  and $41.85 on Bookshop (preorder)

Published to commemorate David Hammons’s (b. 1943) (1990 Fellow) public art project Day’s End, located in New York City, this book documents the sculpture and offers broader context into Hammons’s enigmatic work. In 2014, Hammons sent the Whitney Museum of American Art a sketch for a monument to Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978), paying homage to Matta-Clark’s legendary Day’s End (1975)—an industrial, cathedral-like space of altered architecture—once located near today’s Whitney in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Completed in 2021, Hammons’s work, also titled Day’s End, was realized by the Whitney in collaboration with Hudson River Park, and is on permanent view. One of the most important artists working in the United States, Hammons makes art across mediums, often outside traditional venues. In addition to photographic documentation, the book includes essays on the origins of Day’s End, Hammons’s career scope, and a contribution by poet Ben Okri. Whitney Museum of American Art, hardcover, 128 pages.

Julie Mehretu 
Edited by Julie Mehretu (2020 Resident) and Caroline Bourgeois 
From $45.00 on Amazon  and $41.85 on Bookshop (Preorder)

This catalog is published in conjunction with a major exhibition dedicated to the work of American artist Julie Mehretu (born 1970), spotlighting more than 60 paintings, drawings and prints, from the past 25 years―several of which were painted in the last two. Her sensual and emotional compositions are imbued with palimpsestic and inventive marks that emerge from a dense, multilayered and complex set of references: art historical and sociopolitical, geographical, contemporary and personal. Mehretu’s practice has also always engaged in various forms of collaboration and sustained conversation with fellow artists. Marsilio Arte, paperback, 400 pages.

Glenn Ligon: Distinguishing Piss from Rain: Writings and Interviews
Edited by Glenn Ligon (2020 Resident) and James Hoff
From $38.00 on Amazon  and $35.34 on Bookshop (preorder)

This volume collects writings and interviews by Glenn Ligon, whose canonical paintings, neons and installations have been delivering a cutting examination of race, history, sexuality and culture in America since his emergence in the late 1980s. No stranger to text, the artist has routinely utilized writings from James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Pryor, Gertrude Stein and others to construct work that centers Blackness within the historically white backdrop of the art world and culture writ large. Ligon began writing in the early 2000s, engaging deeply with the work of peers such as Julie Mehretu (2020 Resident), Chris Ofili and Lorna Simpson, as well as with artists who came before him, among them Philip Guston (1949 Fellow, 1971 Resident), David Hammons (1990 Fellow) and Andy Warhol. Interweaving a singular voice and a magical knack for storytelling with an astute view of art history and broader cultural shifts, this collection cements Ligon’s status as one of the great chroniclers of our time. Hauser & Wirth Publishers, paperback, 400 pages.

Antoine Predock: 65 Years of Architecture
By Antoine Predock (1985 Fellow)
From $89.99 on Amazon and $116.25 on Bookshop 

A trailblazing original, the late Antoine Predock (1985 Fellow) was his own tour de force. In his work, steel, glass, and concrete were combined with natural materials to celebrate modern life. Initially considered a regionalist architect—one who had captured the power of the desert—he went on to re-establish the importance of place in architecture in the tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright, Luis Barragan, and Louis Kahn. He made experience—what Kahn would have called spiritual experience—once again important in architecture. Featuring the wide range of Predock’s designed and built structures, including houses, schools, hotels, parks, theaters, nature centers, and more, this is an all-encompassing career/life “memoirograph,” showcasing 3,500 photographs. Rizzoli, hardcover, 692 pages.

In Italy: Sketches and Drawings
By Laurie Olin (1974 Fellow)
From $30.78 on Amazon 

Over the past fifty years, Laurie Olin, one of America’s most distinguished landscape architects, has recorded aspects of life and the environment in Italy: its cities and countryside, streets and cafes, ancient ruins, art, architecture, people, villas, and gardens—civic and domestic, humble to grand, things of interest to his designer’s eye— taking the time to see carefully. Rome in its seasons, agriculture in Umbria and Tuscany, trees, food, and fountains, all are noted over the years in watercolor or pen and ink. Originally made in the personal pleasure of merely being there as well as self-education, this selection from many sketchbooks and drawings is accompanied with introductory notes and remarks for different regions including Rome, Turin, Venice, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, Campania, and Sicily. ORO Editions, hardcover, 258 pages.

Fiction and Memoir

By Lynn Nottage (2023 Resident) 
From $15.95 on Amazon and $15.76 on Bookshop (preorder)

With a chance at reclaiming their lives, the formerly incarcerated people working at Clyde’s, a roadside sandwich stop, strive hard to overcome their personal challenges. Not so easy under their boss Clyde. In this razor-sharp comedy, this motley crew of line cooks, under a visionary chef, are given purpose and permission to dream through their shared quest to create the perfect sandwich. Theatre Communications Group, paperback, 96 pages.

The House of Being
By Nathasha Threthewey (2022 Resident) 
From $18.00 on Amazon and $16.74 on Bookshop

In this intimate and searching meditation, Trethewey revisits the geography of her childhood to trace the origins of her writing life, born of the need to create new metaphors to inhabit “so that my story would not be determined for me.” She recalls the markers of history and culture that dotted the horizons of her youth: the Confederate flags proudly flown throughout Mississippi; her gradual understanding of her own identity as the child of a Black mother and a white father; and her grandmother’s collages lining the hallway, offering glimpses of the world as it could be. With the clarity of a prophet and the grace of a poet, Trethewey offers up a vision of writing as reclamation: of our own lives and the stories of the vanished, forgotten, and erased. Yale University Press, hardcover, 96 pages.

The American Academy in Rome welcomes updates from Fellows, Residents, Italian Fellows, and Affiliated Fellows about new work. Please email comms [at] aarome.org (comms[at]aarome[dot]org) to inform us of upcoming publications or other news.

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