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American Academy in Rome Establishes New Prize with $3 Million Gift

The American Academy in Rome has received a $3 million gift from Musa and Thomas Mayer. The donation was made in honor of Musa’s father, artist Philip Guston, a former Rome Prize winner. With the funds, the academy will establish a new fellowship, the Philip Guston Rome Prize in Visual Arts.

“When my father was awarded the Rome Prize in 1948, he was at a crucial juncture in his painting,” said Musa. “In 1970, an extended stay at the Academy offered the distance and perspective he needed, allowing him to continue painting unencumbered by the rejection of the New York art world. On each visit, he was renewed and sustained by the painting of the Italian masters he loved so much, and by the language, culture, and companionship he found at the Academy. Knowing just how much the Rome Prize can mean in the life and work of an artist, we are delighted to support a fellowship in his name.”

A pioneer of Abstract Expressionism and a leading figure of the New York School, Guston was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 1949 and was a resident there from October 1970 to May 1971. During his time at the institution, Guston painted his “Roma” series, depicting cartoonlike figures and images that evoke various aspects of the ancient and modern Roman cityscape. Guston also served as a trustee of the academy from 1969 to 1976.

The inaugural Philip Guston Rome Prize will be awarded to Garrett Bradley, a visual artist and professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. Her most recent project, America, 2019, which surveys one hundred years of black cinema, was recently featured in the New Directors/New Films program by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art. Her work is also on view in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, which opens to the public on Friday, May 17.