National Medal of Arts
The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. It was created by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. Its current...

 (NEA), and ceremoniously presented the award by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

. The medal was designed for the NEA by sculptor Robert Graham
Robert Graham (sculptor)
Robert Graham was a sculptor based in the state of California in the United States. His monumental bronzes commemorate the human figure and are featured in public places across America.-Biography:...



In 1983, prior to the official establishment of the Medal, the following artists and patrons received a medal from President Reagan, arranged by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities:
  • (artists) Pinchas Zukerman
    Pinchas Zukerman
    Pinchas Zukerman is a world-renowned violinist, violist, and conductor. He is considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and his ongoing 45-year career has seen him perform with the world's best-known orchestras and record over 100 works...

    , Frederica von Stade
    Frederica von Stade
    Frederica von Stade is an American mezzo-soprano. Born in Somerville, New Jersey, she acquired the nickname "Flicka" in her childhood. Von Stade attended the Mannes College of Music in New York City. She made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1970 and in 1971 appeared as Cherubino in The...

    , Czesław Miłosz, Frank Stella
    Frank Stella
    Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker, significant within the art movements of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction.-Biography:...

    , Philip Johnson
    Philip Johnson
    Philip Cortelyou Johnson was an influential American architect.In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later , as a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the first Pritzker Architecture...

     and Luis Valdez
    Luis Valdez
    Luis Valdez is an American playwright, writer and film director.He is regarded as the father of Chicano theater in the United States.-Education:...

  • (patrons) The Texaco
    Texaco is the name of an American oil retail brand. Its flagship product is its fuel "Texaco with Techron". It also owns the Havoline motor oil brand....

     Philanthropic Foundation, James Michener, Philip Morris
    Altria Group
    Altria Group, Inc. is based in Henrico County, Virginia, and is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, John Middleton, Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, Inc., Philip Morris Capital Corporation, and Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. It is one of the world's largest tobacco corporations...

    , The Cleveland Foundation, Elma Lewis
    Elma Lewis
    Elma Idna Lewis was the founder of the National Center of Afro-American Artists and the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts. She received the MacArther Fellows Grant in 1981. She was also given a Presidential Medal for the Arts by President Ronald Reagan in 1983...

     and The Dayton Hudson Foundation.


  • Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

    , singer-songwriter
  • Clint Eastwood
    Clint Eastwood
    Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

    , actor and director
  • Milton Glaser
    Milton Glaser
    Milton Glaser is a graphic designer, best known for the I Love New York logo, his "Bob Dylan" poster, the "DC bullet" logo used by DC Comics from 1977 to 2005, and the "Brooklyn Brewery" logo. He also founded New York Magazine with Clay Felker in 1968.-Biography:Glaser was born into a Hungarian...

    , graphic designer
  • Maya Lin
    Maya Lin
    Maya Ying Lin is an American artist who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She is the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.-Personal life:...

    , artist and architect
  • Rita Moreno
    Rita Moreno
    Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican singer, dancer and actress. She is the only Hispanic and one of the few performers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, and was the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award....

    , singer and actor
  • Jessye Norman
    Jessye Norman
    Jessye Norman is an American opera singer. Norman is a well-known contemporary opera singer and recitalist, and is one of the highest paid performers in classical music...

    , soprano
  • Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
    Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
    Joseph P. Riley, Jr. is an American politician who is the long-time Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina. He is the longest serving mayor in the United States that is still living and in office.-Biography:...

    , mayor
  • Frank Stella
    Frank Stella
    Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker, significant within the art movements of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction.-Biography:...

    , artist
  • Michael Tilson Thomas
    Michael Tilson Thomas
    Michael Tilson Thomas is an American conductor, pianist and composer. He is currently music director of the San Francisco Symphony, and artistic director of the New World Symphony Orchestra.-Early years:...

    , conductor
  • John Williams
    John Williams
    John Towner Williams is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. In a career spanning almost six decades, he has composed some of the most recognizable film scores in the history of motion pictures, including the Star Wars saga, Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones films, E.T...

    , composer
  • Oberlin Conservatory of Music
    Oberlin Conservatory of Music
    The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, located on the campus of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, was founded in 1865 and is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. Students of Oberlin Conservatory enter a very broad network within the music world, as the school's alumni...

  • School of American Ballet
    School of American Ballet
    The School of American Ballet is one of the most famous classical ballet schools in the world and is the associate school of the New York City Ballet, a leading international ballet company based at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The school trains students from the...

  • Robert Brustein
    Robert Brustein
    Robert Sanford Brustein is an American theatrical critic, producer, playwright and educator. He founded both Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut and the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he remains a Creative Consultant, and has been the theatre critic for...

  • Van Cliburn
    Van Cliburn
    Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. is an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at age 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War....

  • Mark di Suvero
    Mark di Suvero
    Marco Polo "Mark" di Suvero is an American abstract expressionist sculptor born Marco Polo Levi in Shanghai, China in 1933 to Italian expatriates. He immigrated to San Francisco, California in 1942 with his family. From 1953 to 1957, he attended the University of California, Berkeley to study...

  • Donald Hall
    Donald Hall
    Donald Hall is an American poet. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2006.-Personal life:...

  • Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
  • Quincy Jones
    Quincy Jones
    Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. is an American record producer and musician. A conductor, musical arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend...

  • Harper Lee
    Harper Lee
    Nelle Harper Lee is an American author known for her 1960 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which deals with the issues of racism that were observed by the author as a child in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama...

  • Sonny Rollins
    Sonny Rollins
    Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins is a Grammy-winning American jazz tenor saxophonist. Rollins is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians. A number of his compositions, including "St...

  • Meryl Streep
    Meryl Streep
    Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television and film.Streep made her professional stage debut in 1971's The Playboy of Seville, before her screen debut in the television movie The Deadliest Season in 1977. In that same year, she made her film debut with...

  • James Taylor
    James Taylor
    James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000....


In 1997, poet Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Cecile Rich is an American poet, essayist and feminist. She has been called "one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century."-Early life:...

 refused her award as a protest against “inconsistencies” between art and “the cynical politics” of the Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

White House administration.

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