The American Academy of Arts and Letters


The American Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters is a 250-member organization whose goal is to "foster, assist, and sustain excellence" in American literature, music, and art. It is located in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, in New York, on a Beaux Arts campus that is shares with the Hispanic Society of America on Audubon Terrace, at Broadway and West 155th Street. The Academy's galleries are open to the public for two exhibitions a year.

The Academy was created in 1904 by the membership of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in emulation of the French Academy. The first seven Academicians were elected from ballots cast by the entire membership; and they were William Dean Howells, Samuel L. Clemens, Edmund Clarence Stedman, and John Hay, representing literature; Augustus Saint-Gaudens and John La Farge, representing art; and Edward MacDowell, representing music. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9D02E2DD1031E733A25750C2A9679C946897D6CF "Aims of National Academy; Organization Formed to Promote Art, Music, and Literature."] "New York Times." January 23, 1909.] An amalgam of the two groups called the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters appeared in 1976, and lasted into 1992; and after this time, the current organizational title was adopted.

History

The oldest organization that may be associated with the group was founded in 1865 at Boston. The American Social Science Association produced the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1898. The qualification for membership in this body was to be a notable achievement in art, music, or literature. The membership was at first limited to 150 but was later increased in 1904 by introducing a two-tiered structure that was to be composed of 50 elite members and 200 others. The people in the elite group were gradually elected over the next five years or more by adding a small number each year. The larger group was called the "Institute," while the elite group was called the "Academy."

The strict two-tiered system persisted for 72 years (1904-76). A new development appeared in 1976 with the creation of an organization called the "American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters." The combined Academy/Institute structure had a maximum of 250 living United States citizens as members, plus up to 75 foreign composers, artists, and writers as honorary members. It also established the annual Witter Bynner Poetry Prize in 1980 to support the work of a young poet. The two-tiered system persisted until 1993 when it was completely abandoned.

Federally chartered corporation

The Academy holds a Congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code (42 USC 20301 et seq.), which means that it is one of the comparatively rare "Title 36" corporations in the United States. [Moe, Ronald C. [http://www.llsdc.net/sourcebook/docs/CRS-RL30340.pdf "Congressionally Chartered Nonprofit Organizations ("Title 36 Corporations"): What They Are and How Congress Treats Them,"] Congressional Research Service, "CRS Report to Congress." Order Code RL30340 (April 8, 2004).] The 1916 statute of incorporation established this institution amongst a small number of other patriotic and national organizations which are similarly chartered. [ [http://www.mcclatchydc.com/reports/veterans/story/13136.html "What is a congressional charter?",] Knight Ridder Newspapers, Dec. 12, 2007.] The federal incorporation was originally construed primarily as an honor; and special recognition neither implies nor actually accords Congress any special control over the Academy, which remains free to function independently. [Kosar, Kevin R. [http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RS22230_20070123.pdf "Congressional or Federal Charters: Overview and Current Issues,"] Congressional Research Service, "CRS Report to Congress." Order Code RS22230 (January 23, 2007).]

Active sponsors of Congressional action were Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts and former-President Theodore Roosevelt. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=950CE0DE1031E733A2575AC1A9679C946897D6CF "Slur on the 'Immortals'; Lodge's Proposed Institutions Shorn of Glory,"] "New York Times." January 19, 1909.] The process which led to the creation of this federal charter was not unaccompanied by controversy; [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9B0DE7D91738E033A25757C2A9679C946897D6CF "Official Action Just Taken Contemplates American Federation.; The Movement to Advance Arts and Letters in America,"] "New York Times." January 24, 1909.] and the first attempt to gain the charter failed in 1910. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C07E1DD1430E233A2575BC2A9649C946196D6CF&scp=420&sq=american+academy+of+arts+and+letters&st=p "A Charterless Academy,"] "New York Times." February 28, 1910.] Sen. Lodge re-introduced legislation which passed the Senate in 1913., [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=990DE3D6123BE633A2575AC1A9679C946296D6CF "Two New Art Societies; Senator Lodge Introduces Bills Providing for Their Incorporation,"] "New York Times." January 19, 1913.] The Academy was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York in 1914, [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9403E2D6173AE633A25752C1A9609C946596D6CF "Arts Academy Chartered; Membership Never to Exceed 50 -- William Dean Howells President,"] "New York Times." June 11, 1914.] which factors in decision-making which resulted in Congressional approval in 1916. [Walnerth, Charles " et al." [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E0DE3D71E3FE233A25756C2A96E9C946796D6CF "Greetings to the American Academy of Arts and Letters,"] "New York Times." August 25, 1916.]

Membership

are chosen for life and have included some of the leading figures in the American art scene. They are organized into committees that award annual prizes to help up-and-coming artists achieve their potential. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9A07EFDF133BE633A25755C2A9679C946296D6CF "Rival to the Great French Academy Limited to 50 Members, Receives Official Recognition From the U.S. Senate; Something About Those on the Original List,"] "New York Times." January 26, 1913.] Although the names of some of the members of this organization may not be well known today, each of these men were well known in their own time. Greatness and pettiness are demonstrable among the Academy members, even during the first decade during which William James declined his nomination on the grounds that his little brother Henry had been elected first. ["Editorial Review" of Updike's "A Century of Arts and Letters:" [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0231102488 "Editorial Reviews": Amazon.com] ] One of the giants of the academy in his time, Robert Underwood Johnson, casts a decades-long shadow in his one-man war against encroaching modernism, blackballing such masters as H. L. Mencken, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and T. S. Eliot (before his exile to England left him unqualified). ["Editorial Review" of John Updike's "A Century of Arts and Letters:" [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0231102488 Alan Weakland, writing in "Booklist"] ] The former President of Harvard, charles W. Eliot declined election to the Academy "because he was already in so many societies that he didn't want to add to the number." [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9507E0D9163FE633A25752C2A9679C946296D6CF "Eliot not in Academy; Harvard's President Emeritus Said He Was in Too Many Societies<"] "New York Times." January 21, 1913.]

Although never explicitly excluded, women were simply not elected to membership in the early years. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=940DE4DE103FE633A25755C1A9679D946296D6CF "Immortals' Plan Hall of Fame Here; Women Would Be Eligible- But "Better Form a Hall of Their Own,"] "New York Times." November 16, 1913.] The admission of Julia Ward Howe in 1907 (at the age of 86) as the first woman in the Academy was only one incident in the intense debate about the very consideration of female members. [Google Books summary: [http://books.google.com/books?id=cqdKGvah7OIC&dq=A+Century+of+Arts+%26+Letters&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 John Updike's "A Century of Arts and Letters"] ] In 1926, the election of four women -- Edith Wharton, Margaret Deland, Agnes Repplier and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman -- was said to have "marked the letting down of the bars to women." [http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F40911FB3D591B7A93C0A8178AD95F428285F9 "First Women Elected to Institute of Arts; Edith Wharton Among the Four Chosen -- American Academy Makes Two Men Members,"] "New York Times." November 12, 1926.] In the first quarter of the twentieth century, some of the members of the National Institute of Arts were:

* Henry Adams [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9D05E0DF123AE633A25751C1A9679D946796D6CF "Academicians Meet Here This Week; Members of Institute Will Join Them in Sessions at the Ritz-Carlton. France to send Greeting; Concert Wherein All Works Are by American Composers Will Be Heard,"] "New York Times." November 12, 1916.]
* Herbert Adams [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E0CE6DB1530E733A05755C1A9679D946796D6CF "Two New Members for the Academy; Dr. Barrett Wendell and Garl Melchers, the Painter, Honored at Meeting<"] "New York Times." November 16, 1916.]
* Henry Mills Alden [see above] ]
* Paul Wayland Bartlett [see above] ]
* Edwin Howland Blashfield [see above] ]
* William Brownell [see above] ]
* George de Forest Brush [see above] ]
* John Burroughs [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9802E6D81E30E633A2575AC1A9679D946095D6CF "Academy Honors John Burroughs; Naturalist Praised by Bliss Perry and Hamlin Garland at Memorial Meeting,"] "New York Times." November 19, 1921.]
* Nicholas Murray Butler [see above] ]
* George Washington Cable [see above] ]
* George Whitefield Chadwick [see above] ]
* William Merritt Chase [see above] ]
* Timothy Cole [see above] ]
* Kenyon Cox [see above] ]
* Daniel Chester French [see above] ]
* Hamlin Garland [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9504E4D9133FE433A25751C1A9679C946996D6CF "Elected to Academy; Brand Whitlock and Hamlin Garland in Arts and Letters,"] "New York Times." January 12, 1918.]
* Charles Dana Gibson [see above] ]
* Cass Gilbert [see above] ]
* Basil Gildersleeve [see above] ]
* William Gillette [see above] ]
* Robert Grant [see above] ]
* William Elliot Griffis [ [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40617FE3A59127A93C4A91789D85F4C8285F9&scp=15&sq=order+of+meiji&st=p "Dr. Griffis, Friend of Japan, Dies; Educator Who Helped Japanese Adapt Themselves to Western Civilization,"] "New York Times." February 6, 1928.]
* Arthur Twining Hadley [see above] ]

* Childe Hassam [see above] ]
* Thomas Hastings [see above] ]
* Robert Underwood Johnson [see above] ]
* David Jayne Hill [see above] ]
* William Dean Howells [see above] ]
* Archer Milton Huntington [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E0CE2DB1538E633A25756C2A9679C946496D6CF "Huntington Gives Site for Academy; Men of Arts and Letters to Erect Building Near Riverside Drive and 155th St. Next to Hispanic Museum; National Institute and American Academy Accept Offer of Eight City Lots for Site,"] "New York Times." January 25, 1915.]
* Henry James [see above] ]
* Henry Cabot Lodge [see above] ]
* Abbott Lawrence Lowell [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9D05E0DF123AE633A25751C1A9679D946796D6CF "Academicians Meet Here This Week; Members of Institute Will Join Them in Sessions at the Ritz-Carlton,"] "New York Times." November 12, 1916.]
* Hamilton Mabie [see above] ]
* Frederick MacMonnies [see above] ]
* Brander Matthews [see above] ]
* William Rutherford Mead [see above] ]
* Gari Melchers [see above] ]
* Paul Elmer More [see above] ]
* Thomas Page [see above] ]
* Horatio Parker [see above] ]
* Joseph Pennell [ [http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FB0C1EFE355B12738DDDAD0A94DC405B868EF1D3 Joseph Pennell, Noted Artist, Dead; Won High Honors as Etcher and Illustrator -- Later Taught Art and Wrote Books,"] "New York Times." April 24, 1926.]
* Bliss Perry [see above] ]
* Charles Adams Platt [ [http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FB0E10FE385B107A93CBA9178AD95F408385F9 "Academy Elects Gay and Lippman; Artist and Journalist Named to Vacancies Left by Deaths of Platt and Shorey,"] "New York Times." November 9, 1934.]
* James Ford Rhodes [see above] ]
* James Whitcomb Riley [see above] ]
* George Lockhart Rives [see above] ]

* Elihu Root [see above] ]
* Theodore Roosevelt [see above] ]
* John Singer Sargent [see above] ]
* Stuart Sherman [see above] ]
* Paul Shorey [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9407EFDD1339E13ABC4E52DFB4678383609EDE "Would Encourage Study of Classics; Academy of Arts and Letters Suggests Courses for Schools and Colleges; Sees Aid to Civilization; Resolution Says Opposite Policy Would Lower the Culture of the American People,"] "New York Times." December 16, 1918.]
* William Milligan Sloane [see above] ]
* Lorado Taft [ [http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FA0814F73D5A1B7B93C3AA178BD95F428385F9 "Mr. Lorado Taft Dies; Leading Sculptor; Creator of Some of Country's Outstanding Monuments is Stricken at 76; Was Teacher in Chicago; "Fountain of Time" and "Columbus Memorial" in Washington Among Chief Works,"] "New York Times." October 31, 1936.]
* Booth Tarkington [see above] ]
* Abbott Thayer [see above] ]
* William Roscoe Thayer [see above] ]
* Augustus Thomas [see above] ]
* Henry van Dyke [see above] ]
* John Charles van Dyke
* Elihu Vedder [see above] ]
* Julian Alden Weir [see above] ]
* Barrett Wendell [see above] ]
* Andrew D. White [see above] ]
* Brand Whitlock [see above] ]
* Woodrow Wilson [see above] ]
* Owen Wister [see above] ]
* George Edward Woodberry [see above] ]

Current academicians

* List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Literature
* List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Art
* List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Music

Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts

The award, a certificate, and $1,000 goes to a United States resident who has "rendered notable service to the arts".
*2003&mdash;Leon Botstein [van Gelder, Lawrence. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980DE2D9123EF93AA25756C0A9659C8B63&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss "Arts Briefing: American Academy Honors,"] "New York Times." May 19, 2003.]
*2008&mdash;Judith Jamison [van Gelder, Lawrence. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04EFD6133EF934A25757C0A96E9C8B63&scp=1&sq=american+academy+of+arts+and+letters&st=nyt "Arts, Briefly: American Academy Picks Caro and Trillin,"] "New York Times." April 17, 2008.]

Other awards

The academy gives out numerous awards, with recipients chosen by committees made up of Academy members. Candidates for all awards must be nominated by Academy members, except for the Richard Rodgers awards, for which an application may be submitted.
*Academy Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters &mdash; In 1941 the Academy established awards to encourage creative work in the arts. Now $7500 each, Academy Awards are given annually: five to artists, eight to writers, four to composers, and three to architects.
*Marc Blitzstein Award &mdash; The $5,000 award is given periodically to a composer, lyricist, or librettist, "to encourage the creation of works of merit for musical theater and opera". The award was established in 1965 by the friends of Marc Blitzstein, an Academy member.

*Michael Braude Award for Light Verse &mdash; The $5,000 biennial award is given "for light verse written in English regardless of the country of origin of the writer".
*Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize &mdash; The annual prize of $5,000 goes to an architect of any nationality who has "made a contribution to architecture as an art".

*Benjamin H. Danks Award &mdash; The $20,000 award is given in rotation to a composer of ensemble works, a playwright, and a writer (fiction, non-fiction, poetry). Since 2002 the Academy has administered the prize established by Roy Lyndon Danks in honor of his father, Benjamin Hadley Danks.

*Jimmy Ernst Award &mdash; The Jimmy Ernst Award of $5,000 is given to a painter or sculptor "whose lifetime contribution to his or her vision has been both consistent and dedicated".
*E. M. Forster Award &mdash; E.M. Forster, a foreign honorary member of the Academy, bequeathed the U.S. royalties of his posthumous novel "Maurice" to Christopher Isherwood, who transferred them to the Academy to establish this $15,000 award, which is given to a young English writer for an extended visit to the United States.
*American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medals &mdash; Each year the Academy awards Gold Medals for distinguished achievement in two categories in rotation:
**Belles Lettres, Criticism, Essays and Painting;
**Biography and Music;
**Fiction and Sculpture;
**History and Architecture, including Landscape Architecture;
**Poetry and Music;
**Drama and Graphic Art.

:The Gold Medal is given for the entire work of the recipient.
*Walter Hinrichsen Award &mdash; The Walter Hinrichsen Award is given for the publication of "a work by a mid-career American composer."
*William Dean Howells Medal &mdash; This award is given once every five years in recognition of the most distinguished American novel published during that period. It was established in 1925.
*The Charles Ives Awards &mdash; Six scholarships of $7500 and two fellowships of $15,000 are now given annually to young composers. In 1998, the Academy established the Charles Ives Living, an award of $75,000 a year for a period of three years given to an American composer. The award's purpose is to free "a promising talent from the need to devote his or her time to any employment other than music composition" during that period.
*Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction &mdash; The $5,000 prize is given for the best published first novel or collection of short stories in the preceding year.

*Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award &mdash; an annual award of $5,000 "given either to a composition student or an experienced composer".
*Goddard Lieberson Fellowships &mdash; Two Goddard Lieberson Fellowships of $15,000 are given annually to young composers of extraordinary gifts. The CBS Foundation endowed the fellowships in memory of the late president of CBS Records.
*American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit &mdash; The Award of Merit, a medal and $10,000, is given each year, in rotation, to an outstanding person in America representing one of the following arts: Painting, the Short Story, Sculpture, the Novel, Poetry, and Drama.
*Metcalf Awards &mdash; In 1986, the Academy received a bequest from Addison M. Metcalf, son of the late member Willard L. Metcalf, for two awards to honor young writers and artists of great promise. The Willard L. Metcalf Award in Art and the Addison M. Metcalf Award in Literature are biennial awards of $10,000.
*Katherine Anne Porter Award &mdash; This biennial award of $20,000 goes to a prose writer who has demonstrated achievements and dedication to the literary profession.
*Arthur Rense Prize &mdash; In 1998, the $20,000 award was established to honor "an exceptional poet" once every third year.

*Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater &mdash; These awards subsidize full productions, studio productions, and staged readings of musicals put on by nonprofit theaters in New York City. The plays are by composers and writers not already established in this field. These are the only awards for which the Academy accepts applications.

*Rome Fellowship in Literature &mdash; Every year the Academy selects and partly subsidizes two young writers for a one-year residence at the American Academy in Rome.
*Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Awards &mdash; Each of these two awards are for $5,000. The first, established in 1956, is for a fiction work of "considerable literary achievement" published in the previous year. The second, created in 1959, is for a young painter "who has not yet been accorded due recognition".
*Medal for Spoken Language &mdash; This medal, awarded from time to time, recognizes individuals who set a standard of excellence in the use of spoken language.
*The Mildred and Harold Strauss Livings &mdash; These Livings provide an annual stipend of $50,000 a year for five years, awarded to two writers of English prose literature to enable them to devote their time exclusively to writing.
*Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award &mdash; This $10,000 award is given each year to honor a writer of "recent prose that merits recognition for the quality of its style".
*Morton Dauwen Zabel Award &mdash; This $10,000 biennial award is given in rotation to a poet, writer of fiction, or critic, "of progressive, original, and experimental tendencies".

Notes

References

* Lewis, Richard W. B. (1998). [http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/u/updike-arts.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=national%20institute%20of%20arts%20and%20letters&st=cse&oref=slogin "1898-1907: The Founder's Story,"] in [http://books.google.com/books?id=cqdKGvah7OIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=A+Century+of+Arts+%26+Letters&source=gbs_summary_r&cad=0#PRA2-PA291,M1 "A Century of Arts & Letters"] (John Updike, ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. 10-ISBN 0-231-10248-8; 13-ISBN 978-0-231-10248-3 (cloth)

External links

* American Academy of Arts & Letters: [http://www.artsandletters.org www.artsandletters.org official website]
* Cornell Legal Institute: [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode36/usc_sup_01_36_06_II_08_B_10_203.html Title 36 > Subtitile II > Part B > Chapter 203 > § 20301 "et seq."] -- easiest to read
* United States House of Representatives: [http://uscode.house.gov/uscode-cgi/fastweb.exe?search 36 USC CHAPTER 203]
** United States Government Printing Office (GPO): [http://www.access.gpo.gov/uscode/title36/subtitleii_partb_chapter203_.html US Code, Title 36, Chapter 203] -- revised §4701 "et seq." (1916-1998)


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The American Academy of Arts and Letters — American Academy of Arts and Letters L American Academy of Arts and Letters (Académie américaine des arts et des lettres) est une organisation de 250 membres dont les objectifs sont de promouvoir l excellence dans la littérature, la musique et… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters — The William Dean Howells Medal is awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Established in 1925, it is given once every five years, generally in recognition of the most distinguished American novel published during that period,… …   Wikipedia

  • List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Literature — This List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Literature shows the members of one of the three departments of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. After being nominated by current members, new members are… …   Wikipedia

  • List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Art — This List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Art shows the members of one of the three departments of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. After being nominated by current members, new members are selected… …   Wikipedia

  • List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Music — This List of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Music shows the members of one of the three departments of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. After being nominated by current members, new members are selected …   Wikipedia

  • American Academy of Arts and Letters — Audubon Terrace, the campus that the academy shares. The American Academy of Arts and Letters is a 250 member honor society; its goal is to foster, assist, and sustain excellence in American literature, music, and art. Located in Washington… …   Wikipedia

  • American Academy of Arts and Letters — Eingang zum Gelände der Academy, das sie sich mit der Hispanic Society of America teilt Die American Academy of Arts and Letters, vormals auch American oder National Institute of Arts and Letters genannt, ist eine Gesellschaft in den Vereinigten… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • American Academy Of Arts And Letters — L American Academy of Arts and Letters (Académie américaine des arts et des lettres) est une organisation de 250 membres dont les objectifs sont de promouvoir l excellence dans la littérature, la musique et les arts aux États Unis. Fondée en 1904 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • American academy of arts and letters — L American Academy of Arts and Letters (Académie américaine des arts et des lettres) est une organisation de 250 membres dont les objectifs sont de promouvoir l excellence dans la littérature, la musique et les arts aux États Unis. Fondée en 1904 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medals — Two American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medals are awarded each year by the academy for distinguished achievement. The two awards are taken in rotation from these categories: *Belles Lettres and Criticism, and Painting; *Biography and… …   Wikipedia