President Bush Announces 2002 Medal of Arts Recipients
March 5, 2003
Washington, D.C. - President George W. Bush today announced the recipients of the 2002 National Medal of Arts. Nine medals will be presented by the President and First Lady Laura Bush in an Oval Office ceremony at the White House on March 6, 2003. The medallists were notified of the honor by the National Endowment for the Arts.
"We honor these individuals for the singular distinction of their artistic careers," said Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Whether they were creating stunning choreography, reconceiving contemporary stage design, or adding Motown to our nation's musical vocabulary, these remarkable people have made significant contributions to our nation's cultural life."
The 2002 Medal of Arts Recipients
Florence Knoll Bassett, designer/architect, Miami, Fla.
The National Medal of Arts is the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence. The Medal is awarded by the President to those who have made extraordinary contributions to the creation, support, and growth of the arts in America. Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts seeks nominations from individuals and organizations across the country. The National Council on the Arts, the Endowment's advisory body, reviews the nominations and provides recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients.
The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has provided support for the 2002 National Medal of Arts with special assistance from Burt and Deedee McMurtry, the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation and the Perkins-Prothro Foundation.
Florence Knoll Bassett, designer/architect, Miami, Fla.
Florence Knoll Bassett profoundly influenced Post World War II design with her innovative approach and her pioneering interiors of great functionalism and contemporary beauty. Her focus on total design led the way for a new era in which design, not decoration, would articulate space, punctuated by carefully selected furniture, textiles and graphics. Bassett received her training at Kingswood School and Cranbook Academy of Art from Eliel Saarinen, at the Architectural Association in London, and at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago under famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. She and her first husband, Hans Knoll, established Knoll International, the prestigious firm known for its seamless package of design, manufacturing, textiles, graphics, advertising and presentation. Her notable projects include the interior design of the CBS, Seagrams and Look Magazine offices in New York and the Heinz Company headquarters in Pittsburgh. Her work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum, Smithsonian and the Louvre in Paris. Bassett has received numerous design accolades including four Museum of Modern Art Good Design Awards, the American Society of Interior Designers' Total Design Award and the American Institute of Architects' Industrial Arts Medal.
Trisha Brown, dancer/choreographer, New York, N.Y.
As a member of the Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s, Trisha Brown pushed the limits of choreography, changing modern dance forever. Founding her own company in 1970, Brown created early dances for alternative spaces including rooftops and walls. Her Man Walking Down the Side of a Building foreshadowed her innovative use of flying in her 1998 production of Monteverdi's Orfeo. In 1998, she collaborated with Robert Rauschenberg and Laurie Anderson to produce Set and Reset, her first fully developed cycle of work. Unstable Molecular Structures established the fluid yet unpredictably geometric style that remains a hallmark of her work. Brown has also choreographed classical works including J.S. Bach's Musical Offering, Franz Schubert's Winterreise and Salvatore Sciarrino's Luci Mie Traditrici. In addition, she recently created an evening-long choreography, El Trilogy, danced to the sounds of today's new jazz music. Brown is the first woman choreographer to receive the coveted MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and has also been awarded two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships. In 1988, she was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government and was elevated to Officier in 2000. A five-time National Endowment for the Arts fellowship winner, she also served on the National Council on the Arts.
Uta Hagen, actor/educator, New York, N.Y.
Uta Hagen made her Broadway debut as Nina in the Lunts' famous production of Chekhov's The Sea Gull. From 1943-45, she played in the legendary production of Othello with Paul Robeson. In 1948 she portrayed Blanche DuBois in the national company of A Streetcar Named Desire, and later played the role on Broadway. Hagen won her first Tony Award in 1950 for her role in Clifford Odets's The Country Girl. She won her second Tony Award in l962, for creating the role of Martha in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Under the direction of her husband, Herbert Berghof, she returned to Broadway in Charlotte by Peter Hacks. In 1995, she played the title role in Nicholas Wright's Mrs. Klein, both in New York and on a national tour. In 1998-99, she starred in Donald Margulies's play Collected Stories Off-Broadway, and that same season was honored with a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award. In 2001, Hagen appeared at the Geffen Playhouse opposite David Hyde Pierce in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. She joined the faculty of The Herbert Berghof Studio in l947; after Berghof's death, Hagen reorganized The HB Studio and The HB Playwrights Foundation in accordance with his theatrical vision and to ensure the institution's survival. Hagen is the author of Respect For Acting and A Challenge for the Actor.
Lawrence Halprin, landscape architect/environmental planner, San Francisco, Calif.
One of the world's leading landscape architects and environmental planners, Lawrence Halprin has been at the forefront of urban design innovation in the United States for 50 years. His practice comprises a catalogue of leading-edge environmental design in projects ranging from inner urban centers to National Parks. Major projects that have set the benchmarks for current design values include The Sea Ranch, a residential development on the California coast which is recognized for its sensitivity to community values and the natural environment; the plazas and fountains of Portland, Oregon's public spaces; and The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, a Presidential monument in the nation's capital which set a new standard for the public's involvement with its past. Through his philosophy of design, books and lectures, Halprin moved far outside the confines traditionally imposed by his field. Early experiments involving the community in the design process were described in his book RSVP Cycles. His Taking Part workshop process is used to facilitate citizen and community participation across the country. He continues to work on high-profile projects such as a promenade overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem and a new approach to the Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park. His many awards include the American Institute of Architects' Thomas Jefferson Award and the American Society of Landscape Architects' Gold Medal for distinguished achievement.
Al Hirschfeld, artist/caricaturist, New York, N.Y. (deceased)
Al Hirschfeld is best known for the witty caricatures of theater personalities he produced for the arts pages of The New York Times from 1928 until his death in January 2003, at the age of 99. Although cannily perceptive and often amusing, his drawings were benignly pointed and never went for the jugular. Hirschfeld said his contribution was to take the character, created by the playwright and portrayed by the actor, and reinvent it for the reader. His work appeared in numerous publications of the last nine decades, 50 editions of the Best Plays series, and on numerous book and record covers. It is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and the St. Louis Art Museum in his hometown. His work appeared on two series of U.S. postal stamps: Comedians by Hirschfeld in 1991 and Silent Screen Stars in 1994. Hirschfeld wrote several books including Show Business is No Business and The American Theater as Seen by Hirschfeld, and 10 collections of his work were published in his lifetime. He was declared a Living Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1996 and a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000. The winner of two Tony Awards, he will be given the ultimate Broadway accolade on what would have been his 100th birthday in June 2003: the Martin Beck Theater on West 45th Street will be renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater.
George Jones, country singer, Nashville, Tenn.
Over four decades have passed since country music fans first heard the raw, emotional, heart-on-his-sleeve delivery that is instantly identifiable as belonging to George Jones. Born in Saratoga, Texas, Jones started out singing for tips on the streets of nearby Beaumont and working the local honky tonk circuit. His first hit song, Why Baby Why, came in 1955. He then experimented with rockabilly under the name Thumper Jones. White Lightning earned him his first number one country record in 1959. More hits followed with Tender Years and She Thinks I Still Care, which led to Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the Country Music Association in 1962 and 1963. Throughout the 1970s, he continued to record number one solo hits such as The Grand Tour, in addition to chart-topping duets including We're Gonna Hold On, with his then-wife Tammy Wynette. Jones kicked off the 1980s with He Stopped Loving Her Today, winning CMA Single of the Year honors in both 1980 and 1981. He also climbed the charts with his autobiography, I Lived To Tell It All, which reached number six on The New York Times bestseller list. Jones continues to record the traditional country music that he loves and remains a relevant artist today, winning a Grammy in 1999 as Best Male Country Vocalist. This April, Jones will release a Gospel Collection, his first in more than 25 years. In recognition of his monumental career, Jones was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992.
Ming Cho Lee, painter/stage designer, New York, N.Y.
Ming Cho Lee arrived from China in 1949, receiving his B.A. from Occidental College. He has led American stage design as a practitioner and teacher since the 1960s, establishing his vision with a groundbreaking production of Sophocles' Electra for the New York Shakespeare Festival, where he was principal designer for 11 years. He has designed extensively for the major resident theatres, including Arena Stage and the Shakespeare Theatre (Washington), the Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles), Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis), Actors Theatre of Louisville; and Broadway. He has also designed for the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera, and has worked with legendary choreographers Martha Graham and Anthony Tudor, as well as with Kent Stowell (Pacific Northwest Ballet) and Gerald Arpino (Joffrey Ballet). Recognition for his design includes a Tony, Ovation and Helen Hayes Awards. A member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, he has received the Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture (New York City), a National Endowment for the Arts Distinguished Artists Fellowship, and many other honors from the Chinese and educational communities. Believing in the importance of future theatre artists in America, he founded the event known as "Ming's Clambake," bringing together graduating theatre design students and major professional designers and directors, for a weekend-long introduction of the new designers to the professional community. An esteemed teacher of theatre design, he has taught at the Yale Drama School since 1969, holding the Donald Oenslager Chair.
Philippe de Montebello, museum director, New York, N.Y.
Philippe de Montebello has led The Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 25 years, making him the longest-serving Director in the history of the nation's largest art museum. During his tenure, the Met has doubled in size, made significant acquisitions, mounted acclaimed exhibitions, developed wide-reaching educational programs and reinstalled much of its permanent collection. Under de Montebello's leadership, the museum has presented critically acclaimed and widely visited shows such as The Vatican Collections, Origins of Impressionism, Tapesty in the Renaissance and the current Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman. Under his guidance, the museum has purchased masterpieces ranging from the ancient Egyptian sculpture Recumbent Lion to Caravaggio's The Denial of St. Peter to Jasper John's White Flag. In addition, it has acquired the Annenberg Collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist Masterpieces, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Art, and the ancient Chinese masterwork, The Riverbank. De Montebello has overseen major museum improvements such as the re-designed Greek Galleries, Nineteenth Century European Paintings Galleries and the installation of the Gubbio Studiolo. Born in Paris and an American citizen since 1955, de Montebello graduated from Harvard University and received an advanced degree from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. His numerous honors include the Chevalier de la Lúgion d'Honneur, the Spanish Institute Gold Medal Award and the Blúrancourt Prize.
William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr., singer/songwriter, Detroit, Mich.
One of pop music's greatest singers, songwriters and producers, Smokey Robinson earned more than two dozen Top 40 pop hits with The Miracles, and wrote and produced many more hits for some of Motown's most popular performers. As frontman for The Miracles, Robinson's songwriting credits include classics such as Shop Around, You've Really Got A Hold On Me and Ooh Baby Baby. Robinson also composed hits for other artists including The Temptations' The Way You Do The Things You Do, Mary Wells' My Guy, Marvin Gaye's Ain't That Peculiar and The Marvelettes' Don't Mess With Bill. As Vice President of Motown Records from 1961 until 1988, Robinson exerted great influence in his roles as songwriter, producer and talent scout. He also continued recording and touring his own music. After leaving The Miracles in 1972, he had a successful solo career recording adult contemporary music, with hits such as Crusin', Being With You and Just to See Her. He released his latest album, Intimate, in 1999. For his long and distinguished career, Robinson has received many honors including a Grammy Living Legend Award, a Soul Train Heritage Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In addition, he has been inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
For a complete list of past Medal of Arts recipients, visit http://www.arts.gov/honors/medals/medalists_year.html.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency