Another Year Passes Without National Medal of Arts Awards

  • March 05, 2019 12:40

  • Email
Will Barnet, Self-Portrait, 1981, was part of the exhibition "Will Barnet at 100" – the artist’s first New York museum retrospective – at the National Academy Museum on Sept. 16-Dec. 31, 2011. Barnet received a 2011 National Medal of Arts on Feb. 13, 2012
National Academy Museum
Financier, arts patron and philanthropist Roy Neuberger receiving the National Medal of Arts from US President George W. Bush in 2007. Neuberger gave much of his art collection to public institutions, including works by Milton Avery, Stuart Davis, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Hopper.
The U.S. Department of State's Art in Embassies program installed Courtney Mattison's “Confluence (Our Changing Seas V)” (2018) at the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia in 2018. It is glazed stoneware + porcelain, 846 x 570 x 50 cm.
photograph by Amanda Brooks

The White House's prestigious annual recognition of American artists, the National Medal of Arts awards, have not been announced or given since President Trump took office in January 2017. This represents the longest gap between ceremonies since the founding of the award in 1985.

The arts have had a tenuous relationship with the current administration, including the fate of the National Endowment for the Arts which has been put into jeopardy with de-funding threats. The New York Times also noted that Trump eliminated the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities after 16 members resigned in protest, citing his reaction to the white nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. 

President Obama held the last White House ceremony to award the arts and humanities medals in September 2016 when the 2015 medals were given. 

Among the visual artists who have been recipients, luminaries include Georgia O'Keeffe, Will Barnet, Frank Stella, Martin Puryear, Ellsworth Kelly, James Turrell, John Baldessari, Ann Hamilton, Jack Whitten and many others.

The award is given to individuals or groups who “…are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.”

The U.S. State Dept. last gave International Medal of Arts awards on January 12, 2017, before Trump took office, recognizing artists Wolf Kahn, Rachel Whiteread, Pat Steir, Nick Cave, Jenny Holzer, and Imran Qureshi. These awards note international artists' contributions to the State Dept.'s Art in Embassies program and to cultural diplomacy.

One recent project of this State Dept. program was marine biologist Courtney Mattison's Confluence (Our Changing Seas V), a porcelain coral arrangement produced for the US Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2018. The piece has a striking ocean conservation theme, seemingly running counter to the Trump administration's denial of human-influenced climate change.

As described by Colossal: Mattison's "site-specific work features a vibrant cluster of coral structures at its center which turn stark white the further they are placed from the installation’s core. This shifting gradient references the rapid devastation caused to reefs as temperature levels rise and force corals to lose their colorful algae."

  • Email

More News Feed Headlines

 Pipilotti Rist, International Liquid Finger Prayer, 2019 (still).  Augmented reality.  Courtesy the artist and Apple

Apple and New Museum Launch App-Enabled [AR]T Initiative

  • ArtfixDaily / August 15th, 2019

Apple invited the New Museum to collaborate on a new Augmented Reality initiative to create a series of experiential ...

Detail of the Taber Family Tianqiuping from the Philbrook Museum of Art that sold at Christie's Hong Kong in 2018 for HK$130,600,000.

Trump Imposes 10 Percent Tariff on Chinese Art and Antiques Starting September 1

  • ArtfixDaily / August 15th, 2019

U.S. President Trump deepened his trade war with China by imposing a new 10% tariff on Chinese art, antiques and ...

"California Hills in Spring," a Childe Hassam painting stolen from the home of Tony Buzbee.

Crime Ring Used Social Media For Multi-million Dollar Art Thefts Around Houston

  • Houston Chronicle (slideshow includes images of stolen artwork) / July 25th, 2019

Burglars used social media to monitor victims' activities, scout their homes, and steal millions in artwork and other ...

Installation view of the Whitney Biennial 2019 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, May 17-September 22, 2019).  Nicole Eisenman, Procession, 2019.  Photograph by Ron Amstutz.

After Warren Kanders Resigns From Whitney Museum Board, Several Boycotting Artists Decide to Stay in Biennial

  • Hyperallergic / July 25th, 2019

Warren Kanders has resigned as vice chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s board of trustees, first ...


ARTFIXdaily Artwire