Acclaimed Interdisciplinary Artist Meredith Monk and Art Historian Aimée Brown Price to Receive French Order of Arts and Letters

May 8, 2015 | By French Culture

NEW YORK, May 7, 2015—Meredith Monk, composer, choreographer, singer and performer, and Aimée Brown Price, art historian and specialist on the French painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, will be awarded the Order of Arts and Letters by the Deputy Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, Thomas Michelon, in a double decoration ceremony on May 11 in New York. 

Known for her "extended vocal technique" and "interdisciplinary performance," Monk’s work exists at the intersection of music and motion, image and object, light and sound. Meredith Monk is one of the major artists of the century and is immensely respected in France and in the world for her new and innovative approach to performance. Celebrated internationally, Monk’s work has been presented by many French venues and festivals, such as the Festival d’Automne in Paris since 1974, the Festival d’Avignon, and The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. In June 2010, her piece Education of the Girlchild: Revisited premiered at the Atelier de Paris and was subsequently performed at Marseille Objectif Danse in France. In 2012, Le Louvre and the Collège des Bernardins hosted her work The Soul’s Messenger, a concert featuring several of her most important pieces intended to allow a younger generation to discover her work. Her music has also been used in films by French director Jean-Luc Godard.

After having received a Fulbright scholarship to study in France under the supervision of the académicien Marcel Brion, Brown Price devoted her career to researching and presenting the work of the 19th-century artist- muralist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.    She has contributed her knowledge to multiple exhibitions  that showcase and reinstate the reputation of this once internationally eminent but neglected French painter (whose work,  widely dispersed because of his fame, was  well-known to and beloved  by such other artists as Picasso and Matisse  and avidly collected by connoisseurs).   Her contributions include the 2014 exhibition Arcadia by the ShoreThe Mythic World of Puvis de Chavannes at the Tokyo Bunkamura and Shimane Museums in Japan and the important 1994 retrospective at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (the latter being a great admirer).  Brown Price recently published a critically acclaimed two-volume study of the artist’s life and art, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (Yale, 2010) , a monograph and a catalogue raisonné of his paintings.  She has lectured internationally at museums (including Amiens, the Chicago Art Institute, the National Galleries of London and Washington) and such other institutions as the Institut d'art et d'archéologie in Paris as well as Cambridge and Oxford.

Thomas Michelon, Deputy Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, stated, “These two remarkable women each introduce a unique and original vision to their fields, one by expanding boundaries of music, stage performance and dance into realms previously unimagined, and the other by rediscovering the French painter Puvis de Chavannes—who had an immense influence on modernism—and presenting his work in a new light.”

Meredith Monk is an interdisciplinary artist. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument has expanded the boundaries of musical composition and choreography, creating spectacles of sound and movement that tap hidden reserves of feelings, energies, and memories. In 1968 Ms. Monk founded The House, a company dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to performance. In 1978 she founded Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to expand her musical textures and forms. As a pioneer in site-specific performance, she has created such works as Juice: A Theatre Cantata In 3 Installments (1969) and Ascension Variations (2009) for the Guggenheim Museum, and American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island (1994). Monk’s award-winning films, including Ellis Island (1981) and her first feature, Book of Days (1988), have been seen throughout the world. Monk has also created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, with commissions from Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, Kronos Quartet, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale, among others. She is currently celebrating 50 years performing with a season that includes landmark performances and events at Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, BAM, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Dance on Camera Festival at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among others. She is also the subject of a new book of interviews, Conversations with Meredith Monk, by arts critic and Performing Arts Journal editor Bonnie Marranca.

Aimée Brown Price is an art historian, teacher, author, and curator. She received a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University and has since taught at the California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the Graduate Center of the City of New York, and the New York Studio School.   Brown Price has published extensively on various aspects of Puvis de Chavannes’s work, including several catalogues dedicated to this artist.  Her other areas of interest include official art, allegorical figures,  caricatures, the smile in portraiture, portraits of couples, beds and their imagery, and a number of  contemporary artists on whom she has lectured and contributed criticism.   Brown Price’s writings have been featured in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Art in America, and the Art Bulletin, among others.  She was art consultant to and wrote on contemporary artists and collectors for Architectural Digest.

The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) was established in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order of Arts and Letters is given out under the jurisdiction of the French Minister of Culture and Communication. American recipients of the award include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Uma Thurman. 


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