Rome Prize awarded to classical archaeologist Dillon Gisch!
Dillon’s dissertation investigates how persons in the ancient Roman world appropriated the form and transformed the function of Praxiteles’s Knidian Aphrodite. This statue was one of the most famous statues in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. It was so famous that, even more than 1,500 years after its destruction, more than five hundred images that replicate its distinctive vulva-covering gesture survive. In the past, historians of Greek art have primarily studied these replicas to reconstruct Praxiteles’s masterpiece and, by extension, his artistic genius. Dillon, however, takes a different tack by studying how surviving “replicas” were engaged in contextually-dependent dialectics of replication and differentiation in the Roman world. Throughout five comparative case studies, he investigates how premodern textual sources, second-century BCE Volterran stone ash urns, first- to third-century CE Roman commemorative stone sculptures, second- to third-century CE Syrian bronze statuettes, and second- to sixth-century CE Macedonian and Moesian stone and bone funerary sculptures each appropriated well-known “modest Venus” types and adapted them to engender different, contextually-specific viewer responses. In so doing, he shows how considering these images as Roman visual culture can shed new light onto old images.
Rome Prize winners are selected annually by independent juries of distinguished artists and scholars through a national competition. The eleven disciplines supported by the Academy are: Literature, Music Composition, Visual Arts, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design, and Historic Preservation and Conservation, as well as Ancient Studies, Medieval Studies, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, and Modern Italian Studies.
These highly competitive fellowships support advanced independent work and research in the arts and humanities. This year, Rome Prizes were awarded to twenty-two American and two Italian artists and scholars, who will each receive a stipend, workspace, and room and board for a period of four to seven months at the Academy’s eleven-acre campus in Rome.