Writer Ralph Ellison was omitted from a list of winners of the National Medal of Arts in yesterday's Style section.
Eleven luminaries of the arts world are to receive a presidential medal -- the first of its kind -- honoring their work and their talent, the White House announced yesterday. Billionaire Paul Mellon, philanthropist, art collector and longtime benefactor and board chairman of the National Gallery of Art, is among those chosen to receive the National Medal of Arts.
The 11 will receive their awards Tuesday at a White House luncheon and ceremony. The selections were made by the National Council on the Arts, chaired by National Endowment for the Arts chairman Frank Hodsoll.
Recipients in the performing arts include: Elliot Carter, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer; Jose Ferrer, who has acted on stage and in films for 50 years; Martha Graham, dancer, choreographer, teacher and a preeminent force in the development of modern American dance; opera singer Leontyne Price, and Lincoln Kirstein, founder of the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet.
Visual artists include the grand lady of assemblage, Louise Nevelson, and Georgia O'Keeffe, known for her stunning abstractions of the American West.
Two other arts patrons will also be honored: Dorothy Buffum Chandler, a major force behind the development of the Music Center of Los Angeles, and Alice Tully, for whom Alice Tully Hall at New York City's Lincoln Center was named.
Hallmark Cards Inc., the only corporation among the honorees, was chosen chiefly for its sponsorship of the Emmy award-winning "Hallmark Hall of Fame" series of television specials, now 34 years old, according to the White House announcement.
"We were one of the few countries in the world without this kind of recognition," said Hodsoll. "Interestingly, most of the states have something like this."
A national medal honoring artistic excellence, comparable in nature to the National Medal of Science, has long been discussed by those inside and outside of the national arts community. At a White House luncheon in May 1983, to which he had invited a number of artists and arts patrons, President Reagan proposed that Hodsoll "explore the matter" with Congress. About a year later the president signed legislation authorizing the first such medal. Up to 12 individuals can be honored annually.
The medal is a first for someone else, too. Robert Graham of Venice, Calif., has been chosen to design the sterling silver medal. Graham was the official sculptor of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.