French Honors Artist Carl Andre and Gallerist Paula Cooper with the Order of Arts and Letters
NEW YORK, December 2, 2015 – Carl Andre, the groundbreaking Minimalist, and Paula Cooper, founder of the Paula Cooper Gallery, were awarded the insignia of the Order of Arts and Letters by Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, on Monday, November 30, 2015, at the Payne Whitney Mansion in New York, home to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Andre was made a Commandeur of the Order, while Cooper, who was made a Chevalier in 2002, was promoted to the status of Officier.
“The relationship between Carl Andre’s art and the Paula Cooper gallery has helped bring both of you to the esteemed positions you hold in the art world,” said the Cultural Counselor. “As a team and as individuals, you have transformed art and the way the public encounters art.”
A seminal American Minimalist best known for his sculptural works, Carl Andre redefined sculpture by departing from traditional sculpture principles of verticality and monumentality, and engaging in architectural space. Committed to pure matter in simple, often geometric arrangements, determined by the units themselves and the surrounding space, using elements most often taken from the industrial world—metal plates, wood blocks, bricks, and others. Such simplicity of form also carries over into Andre’s experiments with word and text in poetry, a rich and significant element of Andre’s practice.
In France, Andre has been represented for decades by gallerist Yvon Lambert. His work has been featured in widely-acclaimed exhibitions at galleries and museums across France, including Le Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1979), Le Nouveau Musée, Villeurbanne/Lyon (1983), the Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris (1989), the Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre, Paris (1993), and Musée Cantini and Centre de la Vieille Charité, Marseilles (1997). Andre’s work is currently the subject of a major travelling retrospective Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010, that opened in 2014 at Dia: Beacon, New York, and will travel to Le Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in October 2016. Other venues include Museo Nacionale Centro de Arte Renia Sofia, Madrid (2015), Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2016), and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2017).
Carl Andre was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1935. After his studies at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he served in the army and traveled to Europe, then relocated to New York City in 1957. Immediate acclaim followed his first solo exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, in 1965, and he participated in several landmark exhibitions of that decade, such as Primary Structures, Jewish Museum, New York (1966), Documenta 4, Kassel, Germany (1968), and When Attitude Becomes Form, Kunsthalle Bern (1969). In 1970 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, presented the first retrospective of his work. Carl Andre’s five-decade career also includes large-scale surveys organized by the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin (1978, touring internationally through 1980), Krefeld Haus Lange/Haus Esters and Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg, Germany (1996), and Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany (2011).
Paula Cooper opened the first art gallery in New York’s SoHo district in 1968 with an inaugural exhibition to benefit the Student Mobilization Committee To End the War in Vietnam, including works by Carl Andre, Jo Baer, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman, as well as others, and Sol LeWitt’s first wall drawing. In 1996, she was once again a pioneer in relocating the gallery to Chelsea.
Though deeply committed to American art of the 1960s and beyond, Cooper has entertained vital relationships with the French art world since the beginning of her career. The gallery represents French artists Céleste Boursier-Mougenot and Sophie Calle, both of whom have occupied the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in the last decade. Cooper has long supported artists who are dear to French audiences, such as Robert Wilson whose groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach premiered at the Festival d’Avignon in 1976, and Mark di Suvero who was the first living artist to be invited to exhibit in the Tuileries Garden with five monumental sculptures in 1975 and who again installed sculptures around the city in 1997.
The gallery has placed works by Carl Andre, Robert Gober, Donald Judd, Christian Marclay, Rudolf Stingel, Robert Wilson and others in the Pompidou’s collection and in the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, France’s national collection. Cooper has been a regular presence at French art fairs, participating in FIAC Paris off and on since the beginning of the fair in the 1970s, as well as at the Paris Photo fair in the early 2000s. Over the years, Cooper has upheld strong relationships with French dealers. She traded spaces with Yvon Lambert in 1980, and in 2012, Galerie Patrick Seguin invited the gallery to present a “Carte Blanche” show for one month in his space on the Rue des Taillandiers.
In 2003 Cooper and her husband, the publisher Jack Macrae, opened the independent bookstore 192 Books. The store offers a rich selection of books in translation and has hosted readings by French writers Emmanuel Carrère, Grégoire Bouillier and Marie Chaix, as well as other distinguished international writers.
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 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.
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, educational and university programs to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts.