Society of Fellows


SOF NEWS March 2017

John R. Clarke
Photo: courtesy AIA
Newlyweds John Clarke and Alejandro Herrera
Photo: courtesy New York City
Oplontis, exhibition logo
Courtesy Smith College
Oplontis Villa A, north facade and garden
Photo: John Clarke
Clarke at work
Villa Poppea (Oplontis Villa A)
Exhibition catalog
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John R. Clarke, RAAR 1995, Trustee 2011-2013

Art historian and man-about-Italy John Clarke has had quite a year and it’s only March. In January he received the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement from the Archaeological Institute of America at the AIA/SCS joint meetings in Toronto. 

On Valentine’s Day he married his partner Alejandro Herrera in New York City while in town for the College Art Association meetings.  
This month he will deliver the 27th Annual Phyllis Williams Lehmann Lecture at Smith College in conjunction with “Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii,” a traveling exhibition based on the extensive work he has been doing there for more than a decade. Clarke is co-director of the Oplontis Project  and has been focusing on the Villa of Poppaea (Oplontis Villa A) and  Villa B. 
Oplontis was located on the sea five kilometers west of Pompeii. It was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 (79 CE). The site is in the present town of Torre Annunziata.
The exhibit, co-curated with Elaine Gazda, RAAR 2014, is a collection of objects never before seen outside Italy. Simple things of everyday life: cooking and eating utensils, foodstuffs and coins, as well as trappings of the wealthy: jewelry, statues, and architectural elements. The show has been traveling since early 2016, first to the University of Michigan, then to Montana State University. It will be on view February 3-August 13, 2017 at Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts. See the museum’s website for the schedule of events
Clarke has been working in Herculaneum, Pompeii, Ostia Antica, and Oplontis for years and has written nine books that explore various aspects of culture, art, and architecture in Roman life. He is the Annie Laurie Howard Regents Professor in Fine Arts in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.
His books are:
Oplontis Villa A (“of Poppaea”) at Torre Annunziata, Italy: The Ancient Landscape and Modern Rediscovery. 2014. ACLS EBook     
Looking at Laughter: Humor, Power, and Transgression in Roman Visual Culture, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250.  2007
Roman Life, 100 B.C.-A.D. 200.  2007
Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans: Visual Representation and Non-elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 315.  2003
Roman Sex, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250.  2003 
Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250. 1998
The Houses of Roman Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250: Ritual, Space, and Decoration. 1991
Roman Black-and-White Figural Mosaics. 1979
Academy scholars contributing to the Oplontis Project include Rebecca Benefiel, FAAR 2003, Bettina Bergmann, FAAR 1982, J. Clayton Fant, FAAR 1992, Kathryn Gleason, FAAR 1987,  Laetitia LaFollette, FAAR 1984, former Mellon Professor Archer Martin, and Lauren Petersen FAAR 1999.