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A work by the British sculptor Henry Moore became a very special gift last week, when British Prime Minister David Cameron presented an artwork to US President Barack Obama when the pair met at the White House to discuss a range of world issues, including violent extremism, in light of the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The piece is a print by the famous British artist, which depicts Stonehenge.

Cameron's present was rather considered, due to a certain trip made by the American president, when Last September, Obama made a surprise visit to the famous Neolithic site, which he described as "cool." The images of a smiling Obama walking around the magnificent ruins soon were seen all over the world.

Published in News
Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:01

Restrictions on Ivory Trade Tighten

In an effort to halt the global boom in wildlife trafficking, the Obama administration announced that it would ban the commercial trade of elephant ivory by prohibiting its import, export and resale within the U.S., with a few exceptions. A high demand for wildlife products has left certain species, such as the African elephant and the rhinoceros, on the brink of extinction.

In a letter accompanying the new National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking Obama said, "Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions, has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years. The entire world has a stake in protecting the world's iconic animals, and the United States is strongly committed to meeting its obligation."

Current regulations only permit ivory to be imported if it is an antique and commercial objects made before 1976 and antiques can be exported. Domestic sales are more or less unregulated. The new system will not allow the import of antique African elephant ivory or the export of any ivory that is not an antique. To be considered an antique under the new system, an object must be more than 100 years old and meet the stringent requirements outlined in the Endangered Species Act. The administration will also ban the resale of elephant ivory across state lines, except for antiques. Sales within a state will only be allowed if the seller can prove that the object was lawfully imported before 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants.

 The Obama administration will begin implementing the new regulations in the following weeks.

Published in News
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 11:11

Obama Names New NEA Chair

President Barack Obama has nominated Jane Chu as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Chu is the president and chief executive of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. Chu, who was born in Oklahoma to Chinese immigrant parents, spearheaded a $414 million campaign to build the center, which opened in 2011.

After earning an associate’s degree in visual arts at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Chu focused on piano studies as an undergraduate at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. She earned a master’s degree in music from Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, a master’s degree in business administration from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, and a doctorate in philanthropic studies from Indiana University.

The NEA, an independent federal agency that funds and promotes artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation, has dropped its funding from $167.5 million in 2010, to $138.4 million in 2013. Chu’s considerable experience in arts funding and administration would greatly benefit the NEA. The agency’s former chairman, Rocco Landesman, retired in 2012. The NEA’s senior deputy director, Joan Shikegawa has been the acting chairman since then.

Chu’s appointment will have to be approved by the Senate.

Published in News

As part of a yearlong celebration of Italian culture hosted by Italy’s foreign minister, Michelangelo’s (1475-1564) iconic work, David-Apollo, will be go on view today at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata unveiled the sculpture yesterday, December 12. David-Apollo will be on view in the West Building’s Italian galleries through March 3, 2013.

Michelangelo carved David-Apollo in 1530 for Baccio Valori, who served as the interim governor of Florence per the Medici pope Clement VII’s appointment. Michelangelo and the pope were at political odds, but the artist wished to make peace with the Medici through his work. Michelangelo never finished David-Apollo as he left Italy and never returned after Clement VII’s death.

Part of the Museo Nazionale del Barello’s collection in Florence, David-Apollo traveled to the National Gallery once before in 1949. The masterpiece’s installation in Washington over sixty years ago coincided with former president Harry Truman’s inaugural reception and attracted more than 791,000 visitors. In 2013, David-Apollo’s presentation will coincide with President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The Year of Italian Culture, launched by Sant’Agata under the auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, will bring a range of Italian masterpieces to nearly 70 cultural institutions across the United States. Works range from classical and Renaissance to baroque and contemporary and cover the realms of art, music, theater, cinema, literature, science, design, fashion, and cuisine.    

Published in News
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 10:30

Chairman of the NEA Announces That He Will Step Down

The National Endowment for the Arts announced today that its current chair, Rocco Landesman, will step down after three years in the position. Landesman, who recently turned 65, plans to retire to Miami Beach at the end of year.

Landesman was a top Broadway producer when Barack Obama nominated him to head the NEA in May 2009. A Tony Award winner, Landesman is best known for producing Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” as well as for his revivals of “Guys and Dolls,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Death of a Salesman.”

The NEA, a federal agency that supports and funds the arts, has appointed the current Senior Deputy Chairman, Joan Shigekawa, as the interim chairman for the new year while the NEA looks for a permanent successor.

Landesman said in a statement released by the NEA, “My intention has always been to serve one time, and we have been able to accomplish more than I had ever thought possible…we have continued to support and strength the entire spectrum of arts in this country, and we have been able to expand the national conversation through convenings, traditional media, and new technology.”

Published in News
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 21:09

A Peek Inside Barack Obama's Diverse Art Collection

As we parade into election season, any second spent thinking about anything other than politics seems downright un-American. Keeping that in mind, don’t be surprised if our listicles over the next few months have a surprisingly political bent. Don’t you want to know Mitt Romney’s favorite artworks? Well, you’ll find that out next week. This week, we take a snapshot look at the White House’s art collection. When Barack Obama first took office, there was a flurry of excitement surrounding which artworks he would add to the White House. What do these works tell us about Barack—and Michelle?

Published in News