This year’s crop of artists elected to membership of the National Academy is by far the most aesthetically diverse class in the institution’s 187-year history, owing to a major adjustment to the eligible categories that Academicians voted in favor of last year — which enabled the inclusion of photographers, video, and performance artists. Among this year’s 23 inductees are many pillars of contemporary art, including Cindy Sherman, Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, and Robert Irwin. The shedding of the Academy’s conservative, painting- and sculpture-centric categories has produced a class of 2012 that is uniquely deep. “The roster of newly elected members reads like a ‘who’s-who’ of the past few decades,” Professor Robert Hobbs, Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Honorary Master of Ceremonies for the fall induction ceremony, told ArtDaily. “By introducing the categories of photography as well as video and performance art, the National Academy signals a remarkable ability to re-think its 187-year-old premises, while continuing its mandate to recognize some of the most trenchant and thoughtful living American artists.” The lineup is, indeed, very impressive: the new artist inductees are: Siah Armajani, Richard Artschwager, David Diao, Robert Gober, Robert Irwin, Shirley Jaffe, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Peter Saul, Joel Shapiro, Cindy Sherman, Richard Tuttle, Bill Viola, Ursula von Rydingsvard They are joined by architects: Stan Allen, Wendy Evans Joseph, M. Paul Friedberg, Jeanne Gang, Michael Graves, Steven Holl, Gregg Pasquarelli, Annabelle Selldorf, and Bernard Tschumi Each newly elected member donates a piece to the National Academy, thus further enriching the Upper East Side institution’s permanent collection of over 7,000 pieces spanning the 19th century to the present.