National Medal of Arts

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National Medal of Arts
Awarded forOutstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States
CountryUnited States
Presented byPresident of the United States & National Endowment for the Arts
Established1984 by the United States Congress
First awarded1985
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Ribbon of the medal
US President George W. Bush with several of the 2005 National Medal of Arts awardees

The National Medal of Arts is an award and title 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 honor given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. Nominations are submitted to the National Council on the Arts, the advisory committee of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), who then submits its recommendations to the White House for the President of the United States to award.[1] The medal was designed for the NEA by sculptor Robert Graham.


In 1983, prior to the official establishment of the National Medal of Arts, through the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, President Ronald Reagan awarded a medal to artists and arts patrons.[2]

Name Area of Achievement
Pinchas Zukerman Artist
Frederica von Stade Artist
Czesław Miłosz Artist
Maya Lin Artist
Frank Stella Artist
Philip Johnson Artist
Luis Valdez Artist
The Texaco Philanthropic Foundation Patron
James Michener Patron
Philip Morris Patron
The Cleveland Foundation Patron
Elma Lewis Patron
The Dayton Hudson Foundation Patron

Recipients of the National Medal of Arts[edit]

The National Medal of Arts was first awarded in 1985. The ceremony was not held in 2021 or 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic therefore the 2021 recipients were given the award in 2023.[3]

Year Name Area of Achievement
1985 Elliott Carter Jr. composer
Ralph Ellison writer
Jose Ferrer actor
Martha Graham dancer, choreographer
Louise Nevelson sculptor
Georgia O'Keeffe painter
Leontyne Price soprano
Dorothy Buffum Chandler arts patron
Lincoln Kirstein arts patron
Paul Mellon arts patron
Alice Tully arts patron
Hallmark Cards corporate arts patron
1986 Marian Anderson contralto singer
Frank Capra film director
Aaron Copland composer
Willem de Kooning painter
Agnes de Mille choreographer
Eva Le Gallienne actress, director, author
Alan Lomax folklorist, scholar
Lewis Mumford philosopher, literary critic
Eudora Welty writer
Dominique de Menil arts patron
Exxon Corporation corporate arts patron
Seymour H. Knox II arts patron
1987 Romare Bearden painter
Ella Fitzgerald singer
Howard Nemerov writer, scholar
Alwin Nikolais dancer, choreographer
Isamu Noguchi sculptor
William Schuman composer
Robert Penn Warren writer, poet
J. W. Fisher arts patron
Armand Hammer arts patron
Frances Lewis arts patron
Sydney Lewis arts patron
1988 Saul Bellow writer
Helen Hayes actress
Gordon Parks photographer, film director
Ioeh Ming Pei architect
Jerome Robbins dancer, choreographer
Rudolf Serkin pianist
Virgil Thomson composer, music critic
Sydney Freedberg art historian, curator
Roger L. Stevens arts administrator
Brooke Astor arts patron
Francis Goelet music patron
Obert Clark Tanner arts patron
1989 Leopold Adler preservationist, civic leader
Katherine Dunham dancer, choreographer
Alfred Eisenstaedt photographer
Martin Friedman museum director
Leigh Gerdine arts patron, civic leader
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie jazz trumpeter
Walker Hancock sculptor
Vladimir Horowitz pianist (posthumous)
Czesław Miłosz writer
Robert Motherwell painter
John Updike writer
Dayton Hudson Corporation corporate arts patron
1990 George Abbott producer
Hume Cronyn actor
Jessica Tandy actress
Merce Cunningham choreographer & dance company director
Jasper Johns painter & sculptor
Jacob Lawrence painter
BB King blues musician
David Lloyd Kreeger arts patron
Harris & Carroll Sterling Masterson arts patrons
Ian McHarg landscape architect
Beverly Sills opera singer
Southeastern Bell Corporation corporate arts patron
1991 Maurice Abravanel music director & conductor
Roy Acuff country singer
Pietro Belluschi architect
J. Carter Brown museum director
Charles "Honi" Coles tap dancer
John O. Crosby opera director, conductor, administrator
Richard Diebenkorn painter
R. Philip Hanes arts patron
Kitty Carlisle Hart actress, singer & arts administrator
Pearl Primus choreographer & anthropologist
Isaac Stern violinist
Texaco corporate arts patron
1992 Marilyn Horne opera singer
James Earl Jones actor
Allan Houser sculptor
Minnie Pearl comedian
Robert Saudek television producer, Museum of Broadcasting founding director
Earl Scruggs banjo player
Robert Shaw orchestra conductor, choral director
Billy Taylor jazz pianist
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown architects
Robert Wise director
AT&T corporate arts patron
Lila Wallace (Reader's Digest Fund) foundation arts patron
1993 Walter and Leonore Annenberg arts patrons
Cabell "Cab" Calloway singer & bandleader
Ray Charles singer & musician
Bess Lomax Hawes folklorist
Stanley Kunitz poet & educator
Robert Merrill baritone
Arthur Miller playwright
Robert Rauschenberg artist
Lloyd Richards theatrical director
William Styron writer
Paul Taylor dancer & choreographer
Billy Wilder director, writer & producer
1994 Harry Belafonte singer & actor
Dave Brubeck jazz musician
Celia Cruz singer
Dorothy DeLay violin teacher
Julie Harris actress
Erick Hawkins choreographer
Gene Kelly actor & dancer
Pete Seeger composer, lyricist, vocalist, banjo player
Catherine Filene Shouse arts patron
Wayne Thiebaud artist, teacher
Richard Wilbur poet, teacher, critic, literary translator
Young Audiences arts presenter
1995 Licia Albanese opera singer
Gwendolyn Brooks poet
B. Gerald and Iris Cantor arts patrons
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee actors
David Diamond composer
James Ingo Freed architect
Bob Hope entertainer
Roy Lichtenstein painter, sculptor
Arthur Mitchell dancer, choreographer
Bill Monroe bluegrass musician
Urban Gateways arts education organization
1996 Edward Albee playwright
Sarah Caldwell opera conductor
Harry Callahan photographer
Zelda Fichandler theater director, producer, educator
Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero composer, musician
Lionel Hampton musician, bandleader
Bella Lewitzky dancer, choreographer, teacher
Vera List arts patron
Robert Redford actor, director, producer
Maurice Sendak writer, illustrator, designer
Stephen Sondheim composer, lyricist
Boys Choir of Harlem performing arts youth group
1997 Louise Bourgeois sculptor
Betty Carter jazz vocalist
Agnes Gund arts patron
Daniel Urban Kiley landscape architect
Angela Lansbury actress
James Levine opera conductor, pianist
Tito Puente Latin percussionist, musician
Jason Robards actor
Edward Villella dancer, choreographer
Doc Watson bluegrass guitarist, vocalist
MacDowell Colony artist colony
1998 Jacques d'Amboise dancer, choreographer, educator
Antoine "Fats" Domino rock 'n' roll pianist, singer
Ramblin' Jack Elliott folk singer, songwriter
Frank Gehry architect
Barbara Handman arts advocate
Agnes Martin visual artist
Gregory Peck actor, producer
Roberta Peters opera singer
Philip Roth writer
Sara Lee Corporation corporate arts patron
Steppenwolf Theatre Company arts organization
Gwen Verdon actress, dancer
1999 Irene Diamond arts patron
Aretha Franklin singer
Michael Graves architect, designer
Odetta singer, music historian
The Juilliard School performing arts school
Norman Lear producer, writer, director, advocate
Rosetta LeNoire actress, producer
Harvey Lichtenstein arts administrator
Lydia Mendoza singer
George Segal sculptor
Maria Tallchief ballerina
2000 Maya Angelou poet, writer
Eddy Arnold country singer
Mikhail Baryshnikov dancer & director
Benny Carter jazz musician
Chuck Close painter
Horton Foote playwright, screenwriter
Lewis Manilow arts patron
National Public Radio, cultural programming division broadcaster
Claes Oldenburg sculptor
Itzhak Perlman violinist
Harold Prince theater director, producer
Barbra Streisand actress, singer & director
2001 Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation modern dance company and school
Rudolfo Anaya writer
Johnny Cash singer & songwriter
Kirk Douglas actor
Helen Frankenthaler painter
Judith Jamison artistic director, choreographer, dancer
Yo-Yo Ma cellist
Mike Nichols director, producer
2002 Florence Knoll Bassett architect
Trisha Brown artistic director, choreographer, dancer
Philippe de Montebello museum director
Uta Hagen actress, drama teacher
Lawrence Halprin landscape architect
Al Hirschfeld artist, illustrator
George Jones singer
Ming Cho Lee theater designer
William "Smokey" Robinson songwriter, musician
2003 Austin City Limits PBS television program
Beverly Cleary writer
Rafe Esquith arts educator
Suzanne Farrell dancer, choreographer, company director, educator
Buddy Guy blues musician
Ron Howard actor, director & producer
Mormon Tabernacle Choir choral group
Leonard Slatkin symphony orchestra conductor
George Strait country singer, songwriter
Tommy Tune dancer, actor, choreographer, director
2004 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation philanthropic foundation
Ray Bradbury author
Carlisle Floyd opera composer
Frederick Hart sculptor (posthumous)
Anthony Hecht poet
John Ruthven wildlife artist
Vincent Scully architectural historian & educator
Twyla Tharp contemporary dance choreographer
2005 Louis Auchincloss author
James DePreist symphony orchestra conductor
Paquito D'Rivera jazz musician
Robert Duvall actor
Leonard Garment arts advocate
Ollie Johnston pioneering film animator & artist
Wynton Marsalis jazz musician & educator
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts arts education
Tina Ramirez dancer & choreographer
Dolly Parton singer & songwriter
2006 William Bolcom composer
Cyd Charisse actress & dancer
Roy DeCarava photographer
Wilhelmina Holladay arts patron
Interlochen Center for the Arts summer arts camp and winter arts focused boarding high school
Erich Kunzel conductor
Preservation Hall Jazz Band jazz ensemble
Gregory Rabassa literary translator
Viktor Schreckengost industrial designer/sculptor
Ralph Stanley bluegrass musician
2007 Morten Lauridsen composer
N. Scott Momaday author
Craig Noel director
Roy Neuberger arts patron
Les Paul electric guitar pioneer
Henry Z. Steinway arts patron
George Tooker painter
Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival (University of Idaho) music festival
Andrew Wyeth painter
2008 Stan Lee comic book writer, editor
Richard M. Sherman songwriter
Robert B. Sherman songwriter
Olivia de Havilland actress
Hank Jones jazz pianist
Jesús Moroles sculptor
Ford's Theatre Society historic theatre organization
Fisk Jubilee Singers, (Fisk University) African American choral group
José Limón Dance Foundation dance troupe
The Presser Foundation music philanthropy organization
2009 Bob Dylan singer & songwriter
Clint Eastwood actor & director
Milton Glaser graphic designer
Maya Lin artist & architect
Rita Moreno actress
Jessye Norman operatic soprano
Joseph P. Riley Jr. mayor
Frank Stella artist
Michael Tilson Thomas conductor
John Williams composer, conductor & pianist
Oberlin Conservatory of Music
School of American Ballet
2010 Robert Brustein theater director & producer
Van Cliburn classical pianist
Mark di Suvero sculptor
Donald Hall poet
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
Quincy Jones composer & music producer
Harper Lee novelist
Sonny Rollins jazz musician
Meryl Streep actress
James Taylor singer & songwriter
2011 Will Barnet artist
Rita Dove poet
Al Pacino actor
Emily Rauh Pulitzer arts patron
Martin Puryear sculptor
Mel Tillis singer & songwriter
United Service Organization (USO) provides programs and entertainment to the U.S. military and their families
André Watts classical pianist
2012 Herb Alpert musician
Lin Arison arts education advocate
Joan Myers Brown dancer, choreographer and artistic director
Renée Fleming opera singer
Ernest Gaines author & teacher
Ellsworth Kelly artist
Tony Kushner playwright
George Lucas film director
Elaine May actress & director
Laurie Olin landscape architect
Allen Toussaint composer, producer and performer
Washington Performing Arts Society arts presenter
2013 Julia Alvarez novelist, poet & essayist
Brooklyn Academy of Music presenter
Joan Harris arts patron
Bill T. Jones dancer & choreographer
John Kander musical theater composer
Jeffrey Katzenberg director and CEO of DreamWorks
Maxine Hong Kingston writer
Albert Maysles documentary filmmaker
Linda Ronstadt musician
Billie Tsien & Tod Williams architects
James Turrell visual artist
2014 John Baldessari visual artist
Ping Chong theater director, choreographer, and video and installation artist
Míriam Colón actress
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation supporting creative expression across the country
Sally Field actress and filmmaker
Ann Hamilton visual artist
Stephen King author
Meredith Monk composer, singer, and performer
George Shirley tenor
University Musical Society presenting the performing arts to communities in Michigan
Tobias Wolff author and educator
2015 Mel Brooks actor, comedian, writer
Sandra Cisneros author
Eugene O'Neill Theater Center theater
Morgan Freeman actor
Philip Glass composer
Berry Gordy record producer, songwriter
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. musician
Moises Kaufman theater
Ralph Lemon dance
Audra McDonald actor
Luis Valdez playwright, actor, director
Jack Whitten painter
Not awarded
2019[4] Alison Krauss singer
Sharon Percy Rockefeller arts supporter
The Musicians of the United States Military military musicians
Jon Voight actor
2020[5] Toby Keith country musician
Ricky Skaggs country musician
Mary Costa[6] operatic soprano
Nick Ut[6] photojournalist
Earl A. "Rusty" Powell, III[6] director, National Gallery of Art
2021[7] Bruce Springsteen musician
Gladys Knight singer
Mindy Kaling actress
Julia Louis-Dreyfus actress
Jose Feliciano singer
Vera Wang fashion designer
Joan Shigekawa film director
Judith Francisca Baca artist
Fred Eychaner businessman and philanthropist
Antonio Martorell painter
The Billie Holiday Theatre theatre
The International Association of Blacks in Dance preserves and promotes dance by people of African ancestry or origin

Declined honors[edit]

In 1989, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein refused his award, allegedly due to how a federal grant to an art show on AIDS had been revoked.[8]

In 1992, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim refused his award, claiming that the NEA had "become a victim of its own and others' political infighting and is rapidly being transformed into a conduit and a symbol of censorship and repression rather than encouragement and support".[9]

In 1997, poet Adrienne Rich refused her award as a protest against “inconsistencies” between art and “the cynical politics” of the Clinton administration.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts 2018 Guide" (PDF). National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  2. ^ "National Medal of Arts by Year". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  3. ^ Vazquez, Maegan; Carvajal, Nikki (21 March 2023). "Bruce Springsteen, Gladys Knight among group honored at the White House". CNN. Retrieved 2023-03-22.
  4. ^ "President Donald J. Trump to Award the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal". The White House. 17 November 2019. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  5. ^ Hutter, Victoria (January 15, 2021). "National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Congratulates Recipients of the 2020 National Medal of Arts". Retrieved January 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b c "President Donald J. Trump Awarded the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal". The White House. 14 January 2021. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  7. ^ "Bruce Springsteen to get National Medal of Arts from Biden". CBS News. 21 March 2023. Retrieved 2023-03-21.
  8. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (1989-11-16). "Leonard Bernstein Refuses The National Medal of Arts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  9. ^ Brozan, Nadine (1992-05-13). "Chronicle". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  10. ^ "Hot Ink".

External links[edit]