Washington, 14 February 2012
Monday, 13 February 2012, President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to two organizations and fifteen individuals.
Among those presented with the National Medal of Arts by the American president were three visual artists: Will Barnet, Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Martin Puryear.
Will Barnet’s career began in 1939 when he won a scholarship to the prestigious Art Students League in New York. A talented printmaker, working in lithography, etching, and woodcutting, he was named printmaker of the League in 1935. One year later, he began teaching at the League where he worked as an instructor of graphic arts, composition, and painting for 43 years. Through his prints, drawings, and paintings, Barnet explored abstraction, expressionism, and cubism. Skilled in combining sophistication and emotion with beauty and shape, the centenarian artist is, after an eighty-year long career, a force to be reckoned with.
Emily Rauh Pulitzer was awarded for her contributions as a curator, art collector, and philanthropist. Dedicated to making art more accessible to the public, Pulitzer has demonstrated her generosity towards well-known institutions such as the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, the Harvard Art Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. The curator has gone even further with her endeavours in St. Louis by founding the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
American sculptor, Martin Puryear, is recognized for taking ordinary everyday materials— wood, stone, metal— and transforming them into striking , almost magical pieces that evoke questions of history culture, and identity in a simple, yet powerful manner. His dedication towards manual skill and traditional building methods allow for an enticing alternative to our increasingly digital society.