Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI – interior

MAXXI – interior

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Rome’s new Museum of Art of the 21t Century, by Zaha Hadid, opened 2009. Like many contemporary museums, the building wins (or comes close to winning) the struggle for visitor’s eyes. I suppose, given the mandate, they have plenty of time to challenge that.

I may have to go back and see the Pier Luigi Nervi show, though.

Study in scale

Big ceiling, little people.

The scale of the Basilica Nova always gets to me when I get inside it – and nothing makes that clearer than the bits fallen from the ceiling. If you don’t know the building click and go to the Flickr stream to see another view.

Silas and Sasha Ruth came with us for this visit; they always bring a higher level of energy to the proceedings!

Bullet dodged!

Whew! All day yesterday I thought I was coming down with something flu-ish…but today dawned bright (overcast now) and I”m feeling fine. I HATE being sick abroad. The only good thing for me is that unlike folks with 2 days in Rome I can take a sick day. I have until May.

Someone at the door of S Lorenzo in Miranda!

We went to the Forum Romanum yesterday. The program has leased a sound system. Everyone has a little box slung on a lanyard around the neck – it’s smaller than a Walkman, but not by much. Everyone has an earpiece wired to the box, except me. I have a headphone set up. I was able to talk at a normal speaking level and everyone could hear me! The furthest we tested was once when my colleague Nick Ruth was about 30 yards away, and he picked up the signal just fine. Something more to lug from place to place, but worth it!

OK – the picture. Click on the picture to go to my Flickr photo stream and see a full view of the building, one of my favorite examples of literal layering and unlayering. The temple of Antoninus Pius and Fausta was built around 140, when she died, and rededicated with his name at his death 20 years later. The building was buried by the rising detritus and silt in the Forum until the 8th or 9th century, when a church was inserted inside the ancient building’s envelope. In 1602 a baroque facade was added — and the green door was at an appropriate entry level for that period. Think of what that means for the relative ground levels in the Forum!
In the 19th C the temple was excavated, leaving the door left hanging (there’s an entrance on the side of the church). Yesterday for the first time I saw people at the 17th Century door! So that explains the picture.
However, the interesting thing for me (and I hope for my students) are the layered stories — temple to divinized rulers, church inserted (triumphantly?) in the shell, colonnade preserved because of the church. Then the 19th Century archaeologists brutally ignored history in pursuit of some ideal state or ground level — and dug out the detritus, reconstructed a fictive staircase (that brickwork is not original!), and declared it “restored.” At least they didn’t tear down San Lorenzo in Miranda, which they did do to some other churches in the Forum area.
All in all a great place for me to teach my stuff — and someone at the door waving to us!

First Class Day!

First Art Class Day!

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

The whole group went to the Colosseum today and started thinking about the built environment in a serious way. At least, some of them looked serious to me. Tomorrow at the Foro Romano will help some of the others catch up. There was some serious sketch-book action going on, and I very much enjoyed using the Voice of God effect provided by the one-way-radio system. We have a set of our own headpieces to use from now on.

Santa Maria Maggiore – no chairs!

Seldom do you see a major Roman basilica without a sea of plastic chairs – so I was shocked to see the floor so clearly at Sta Maria Maggiore last week. I asked an attendant — he told me it was for cleaning.

Still, you can see the floor so much better this way! Click on the picture to get to the photo-stream and see another view.

Ah Roma . . .

I just heard the last of the knife grinders!
There’s still one left – trundling his wheel around the Centro, his call echoing up the streets. I’m not sure exactly what his cry is — it sounds like “Rovino,” but that means “ruin,” so that can’t be right.
When I was studying here in 2002 he came by the Scuola. All the windows were open (it was July – what WAS I thinking?) and his cry filled the room. The teacher stopped and made us all look out the window. He explained that this man was probably the last of the knife grinders, and almost the last of the street merchants with a characteristic cry left in Rome. And that was 8 years ago!

Arrival day!

Arrival day!

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Nick and I were up at the crack of dawn to meet a GustoLab staffer and a driver to go to the airport (I know, why whine about a private car to the airport? But we MET at 7:15!) to meet the group!

Click to see the other pics…Tra To, who came all the way from Vietnam, made it first. Then the big group. Then Jenny Wu, who came from China via Istanbul. Everyone was delivered to their apartments by noon.

We met at 4 at the Chiesa Nuova for a familiarization walk around the neighborhood of the Scuola Leonardo da Vinci. Then we walked through the Piazza Navona, stopped by the Pantheon (everyone must visit the Pantheon on the first day in Rome!), then up to the Campidoglio. There we did one of the classics — look out at the Forum at classical Rome and its ruins — then turn around and come back to Michelangelo’s Campidoglio and look out at Renaissance and Modern Rome – Rome of the domes. If you go to Flickr you can see a rear view of the tired puppies looking at the Forum.

We kept them up later — buffet at a nearby restaurant. I think everyone left happy — and ready for bed. I was certainly ready to put my feet up!

Now the program has begun – HWS Roma 2011!

Best picture I’ve taken this year.

Oculus of the Pantheon

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Gosh I love the Pantheon. There’s no question that one of the reasons I am what I am now is an early visit to the Pantheon. I try to go every day that I’m in Rome (it helps when I live this close).

I’m not sure what the building was for, but sometimes I imagine that Hadrian built it to stand in the center and turn slowly – like I do sometimes. Talk about the Egocentric Fallacy!

Technology – that ol’ double-edeged sword

It used to be that one could announce: “I’m going away — all requests for letters of recommendation must be in hand by December 1!” Now that most graduate schools seem to have gone to online submission, these things trickle in and in and in…I have 4 to write this weekend! On the other hand, it is so much easier to do an online submission that it is to run letterhead paper through the extremely high tech multi-function machine at school that I don’t mind this trade off! So, Kyli and Meredith and Shannon – your recs will go out soon!