Ellsworth Kelly, George Lucas, Laurie Olin Among National Medal of Arts Recipients

President Obama welcomed the latest recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to the White House yesterday for a ceremony in the East Room. Among the honorees present to pick up their hardware was Ellsworth Kelly, who has had a banner ninetieth year, with solo shows at MoMA, the Phillips Collection, the Barnes Foundation, and Matthew Marks, to name a few. The citation read at the ceremony lauded the artist as “a careful observer of form, color, and the natural world [who] has shaped more than half a century of abstraction and remains a vital influence in American art.”

Other 2012 National Medal of the Arts recipients include philanthropist and arts education advocate Lin Arinson, landscape architect Laurie Olin, and George Lucas, who got a special shout-out from the President. “American philosopher Will Durant once wrote, ‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’ And that’s an extraordinary skill—to tell the untold stories of history, to reveal the sculpture that’s waiting there in a block of stone, to transform written music into song; to make it look like those planes in space are actually flying like they are,” said Obama during his remarks. “I remember when I first saw Star Wars. There’s a whole generation that thinks special effects always look like they do today. But it used to be you’d see the string on the little model spaceships.”