Society of Fellows


SOF NEWS July & August 2013

Itali-Ana, Mendieta in Rome
Still from a film by Raquel Cecilia
Ana Mendieta, Figure with Nganga, 1984
Photo courtesy Galerie LeLong
Harrison Gibbs, Fountain Group, restored and ready for casting
Photo by Margaret Bobo-Dancy
Harrison Gibbs in his studio at the Academy circa 1937
Photo AAR Archives
Harrison Gibbs and Maurine Montgomery Gibbs
Photo courtesy Ramona Gibbs and
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Ana Mendieta, FAAR'84, Harrison Gibbs, FAAR'38

This year, the work of Ana Mendieta, FAAR'84 has been featured in a major retrospective in Italy, an exhibit in New York City, and is the subject of an upcoming film.

Ana Mendieta. She Got Love, the first retrospective of her work in an Italian public museum, was presented at Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'arte Contemporanea in Turin from January to June of this year. An article on the exhibit can be downloaded here. In conjunction with that retrospective, Galerie LeLong in New York City showed Ana Mendieta: Late Works 1981-1985 during May and June.

The Hayward Gallery in London will open a retrospective of her work on 24 September, 2013. 

Itali-Ana, Mendieta in Rome, a documentary film by her niece and goddaughter Raquel Cecilia, is currently in post-production. It is based on the time she spent at the Academy. See a trailer here.  Mendieta was 36 when she died in a terrible fall in 1985, not long after returning from Rome.




Another Academy sculptor whose work is is being highlighted this year is Harrison Gibbs, FAAR'38. His newly restored and cast bronze sculpture, Fountain Group, has just been installed at the new Peoria Riverfront Museum in Illinois.




Gibbs was lost in World War II, was also 36 when he died. He executed several sculptures while at the Academy from 1936 to 1938, notably Fountain Group which was designed for the courtyard of the Academy as part of his collaborative problem. Other pieces included Weightlifter and Hercules and the Hydra, both in bronze; his plaster Monument to Peace, Swimming Triton, and his marble relief St. Martin and the Beggar. They were shown in the 1938 Annual Exhibition, and can be seen in a video  as King Victor Emmanuel III tours the show. At some point Gibbs met his future wife at a chamber music concert at the Academy.
In 2006 his daughter Ramona Gibbs discovered the plaster model for Fountain Group in a carriage house at a family home where it had been stored since 1938. It had water damage and required repairs; she took on the task of finding people and funding to have it restored and cast. The timing was just right. Her home town of Peoria was building an art museum and thought the fountain a perfect centerpiece for the sculpture garden.
Fountain Group was installed and dedicated this spring. In a video of the dedication, Gibbs talks about her father at the Academy.  It is a quintessential 1930s Academy sculpture, created when the sculptors were struggling with the Academy's long-standing traditions of classicism while being influenced by Futurism,  and Fascist design in architecture and new media like posters and film. 
After the war a new era began as the Academy adopted a broad definition of art and design, the School of Fine Arts began to accept women, and Fellows could be married and bring their spouses and children.