No, Sylvester Stallone Won’t Head Up the National Endowment for the Arts

Sly says thanks, but no thanks.

Sylvester Stallone in 2014. Photo Paul Bruinooge/
Sylvester Stallone in 2014. Photo Paul Bruinooge/

Rumors flew last week that the star of Rocky and Rambo, legendary actor Sylvester Stallone, was President-elect Donald J. Trump’s preferred candidate to head the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Now, an editor for Buzzfeed has tweeted that Stallone says he would pass on such a post if offered, saying he would be “more effective” at helping returning veterans.

In the “Rambo” film series, Stallone played a Vietnam veteran who had been a prisoner of war and found himself unable to adjust to civilian life upon returning home.

In 2016, Congress appropriated nearly $150 million to the NEA, currently overseen by chairman Jane Chu. Its museum grantees alone ranged from New York’s American Folk Art Museum and Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts.

At least one art-world observer, seeing that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani had not received the nod for Secretary of State, which had been rumored to be in the offing, sees him perhaps getting the culture spot:

That choice would carry a deep irony, considering Giuliani’s crusade against the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1999 over its “Sensation” exhibition, which included a number of provocative artworks, led by Chris Oflili’s painting The Holy Virgin Mary, which incorporates several balls of elephant dung.

Stallone would be a less ironic choice than might be thought based on his Hollywood career alone, wrote artnet News’s Ben Davis last week, reporting on the whispers of the actor’s possible future:

These rumors spread fast, so we’ll just say that Stallone as NEA head is more an out-there “what-if” scenario than anything else, we’re thinking. Though, keep in mind, Stallone himself has lately been devoting himself studiously to his painting career, is known as an art collector who owns works by Bacon and Monet, and even recently declared that “Nothing’s better than art” in an Instagram selfie video. That’s not a joke.

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