The Whitehouse has announced, (Wednesday, July 10, 2013) that President Obama will present the artist Ellsworth Kelly, who turned 90 earlier this year, with National Medal of Arts. The National Medal of Arts, founded in 1984, is the highest award given to artists by the United States Government.
The National Medal of Arts was created by the United States Congress in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. A prestigious American honor, it is the highest award specifically given for achievement in the US for arts, conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and ceremoniously presented the award by the President of the United States. The medal was designed for the NEA by sculptor Robert Graham.
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by the Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the Federal Government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with State arts agencies, local leaders, other Federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. The National Endowment for the Humanities was created in 1965 as an independent Federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the Nation. The Endowment brings high-quality historical and cultural experiences to large and diverse audiences in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five territories.
Ellsworth Kelly (born 1923) has been the subject of major exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and his work is in many public collections, including those of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and Tate Modern, London. Kelly lives and works in Spencertown, New York.
He has evaded critical attempts to classify him as a Color Field, hard-edge, or Minimalist painter, has redefined abstraction in art, establishing himself through his drawings, paintings, sculptures, and prints as one of the most important artists working today. Kelly’s visual vocabulary is drawn from observation of the world around him—shapes and colors found in plants, architecture, shadows on a wall or a lake—and has been shaped by his interest in the spaces between places and objects and between his work and its viewers. He has said, “In my work, I don’t want you to look at the surface; I want you to look at the form, the relationships.” Previous recipients of the National Medal for Arts include Georgia O’Keefe, Willem de Kooning Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, Chuck Close, Louise Bourgeois, Richard Diebenkorn, Isamu Noguchi and Jasper Johns.