Sylvain Bellenger Welcomes American Friends of Capodimonte to Naples

Dear Friends,
In a few weeks we will all be together. American Friends of Capodimonte (AFC) president, Vincent Buonanno, and I have planned this trip for you to discover the complex and fascinating world that was once the capital city of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - a large territory that covered the whole Mezzogiorno, including: Capri, Ischia, Procida, and the larger island of Sicily.
The city of Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It was founded by the Greeks (470 B.C.) and later inhabited (and sometimes seized!) by the Romans, Normans, Swedish, Angevines, Aragonians, Austrians, Spanish, and French rulers. For centuries, just like Peru, Naples was a vice kingdom of the vast Spanish Empire. These cultures left visible traces on the city and on the Neapolitan people. In light of its rich history, the historic center of Naples was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Beyond its historical importance, however, Naples is a millenarian exposition of crucial contemporary issues including national borders, the migration of populations and culture, and the conservation of nature and patrimony.
The enchanting world that will unfold before you on your journey strikes an uncanny parallel with the “discovery” of Tuscany by American and English travelers at the beginning of the twentieth century. Naples truly enjoys an embarrassment of riches - past and present - with its innumerable treasures in painting, sculpture, architecture, literature and music. Yet, the creative bounty of Naples has largely evaded mainstream scholarship and connoisseurship. Naples is the new Tuscany waiting to be discovered.
And yes, Naples proudly boasts the name of Caravaggio. Yet, there are hundreds of lesser-known artists from the era of Giotto to Solimena who have contributed to the composition of a city that is itself a bel composto – or total work of art. Every street corner is a discovery. Every courtyard and church is a museum. And the Museo di Capodimonte serenely overlooks this marvelous city, anchoring the artistic soul of Naples within its unparalleled collections. 
The American Friends of Capodimonte is an organization that facilitates, for example, the conservation and restoration of artworks. But the scope of the AFC’s mission ventures far beyond these objectives. The AFC is the first organization to place an American curator in an Italian museum. This achievement is unprecedented in the history of Italian museums. The Museo di Capodimonte, with the AFC, truly affords the opportunity to discover an entire civilization. 

Vincent and I believe that you will immediately measure the significance of your support when you meet Dr. James Anno who, thanks to your generous contribution, is the Capodimonte’s first American Curatorial Fellow. James is a major addition to the Capodimonte curatorial team. James joined us on September 1st, and will benefit from the unique experience of working at the most import Italian museum amidst its reorganization and transformation. He brings an extremely valuable expertise to the Capodimonte’s team and will introduce Anglo-Saxon scholarship and thinking to the museum, including the English language – which are professional skills that would not otherwise be available in southern Italy. James will help build cultural exchange with American institutions, and the organization of exhibitions. He is also at the service of his fellow Americans and AFC members. Whenever you come to visit the Capodimonte during his two-year tenure, he will make you feel at home.
We hope that during your trip you will not only discover beautiful sites, museums, and churches but that you will return home with a better understanding of what we are doing at the Capodimonte, including the historical and cultural challenges we face. It is our wish that by virtue of your journey, the Capodimonte will become real in your imagination and affection.
Sylvain & Vincent

AFC Fellow James Anno Featured in La Repubblica Napoli and Corriere del Mezzogiorno

Translation for the article from La Repubblica provided below the articles.

La Repubblica published 9/7/17 by Paolo de Luca


Headline: "An American arrives at the Capodimonte who is from Oklahoma City and is a new curator at the Museum"


Article: He arrived only a few days ago and already has a favorite work of art. "It's Caravaggio'sFlagellation, naturally - he [James] said with a smile - but it is difficult to pick from all of the masterpieces [at the museum]."

His name is James Anno coming from Oklahoma City of the USA, and since Monday he is a now a curator at the Capodimonte. He will work [here] for the next two years. He is 35 years old, with a degree in art history, and a PhD on Michelangelo from Washington University. Anno is a resource that the museum, directed by Sylvain Bellenger, acquired at practically zero cost. It will in fact be the "American Friends of Capodimonte" (born a year ago on the impulse of Bellenger) that provides, until 2019, his stipend and his apartment, in the Chiaia neighborhood. [The AFC] provides cultural support that characterizes the philanthropy [of the AFC] (led by Vincent Buonanno and Riccardo Muti as honorary president), which American law promotes via generous tax breaks.

Mr. Anno, what is your first assignment at the Capodimonte? 

"I work with art of the 15th and 16th centuries, but my initial task will be to provide translations of all the didactic material for the Farnese Collection, so that they can be understood by foreign visitors as well. I will then work on an exhibition."

Which exhibition? 

"For the recurrent exhibition program "The work is Explained", a special exhibition on the Last Judgment displayed in the galleries [which is] a copy of Michelangelo's fresco, executed in 1549 by the painter Marcello Venusti." 

What did Bellenger communicate to you when you began work at the Museum?

"He explained to me the importance of how the museum should always be in dialogue with its visitors. Hence the importance of translating the didactic materials. It is a great honor for me [James] to collaborate in the Capodimonte's mission, which is one of the most important places for art in the world."

Is it your first time to come to Naples?

No, I've been to Italy several times for my research and I have visited Naples three times: it is a wonderful city, and I am settling in easily." 

James Anno to be 2017 Capodimonte Curatorial Fellow

The American Friends of Capodimonte is very pleased to announce that James Anno has been selected to be the first Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Capodimonte Museum. His post starts in September 2017.

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James Anno is the first Curatorial Fellow of American Friends of Capodimonte (AFC). He received his Ph.D. in Art History and Archaeology from Washington University in St. Louis in May 2017. His dissertation explores the interrelationship of time, movement, and narrative in select works of Michelangelo, and his advisor was the Michelangelo scholar, William E. Wallace.  James is well versed in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. His interest in Michelangelo, however, made him an exceptionally strong candidate since the Capodimonte has two large cartoons by Michelangelo – one for a painting of Venus and Cupid, and the other as a preparatory sketch for the Crucifixion of St. Peter fresco in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel.
Anno is a native of Oklahoma and received his BS in Biochemistry at Oklahoma Baptist University and his MA in Art History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the recipient of two pre-doctoral fellowships: one from the Fondazione Lemmermann to research and write in Rome and the other as a graduate intern in the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
He began his museum career as a guard at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 
James's mission as AFC Curatorial Fellow is to assist Director Sylvain Bellenger in curatorial, conservation, and administration matters. In particular, James is positioned to help broaden the Capodimonte’s international exposure by introducing the English language to the museum’s programming and exhibition initiatives. He will also be producing scholarly work relevant to the Capodimonte's collection during his two-year tenure. He is joined by his wife, Kimberly, and their two small children. 

 Applications for the following cycle will next be accepted September through December 2018. The appointment of the second Capodimonte Post-Doctoral Fellow will be announced by March 15, 2019.