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France Honors Lou Reed


On Sunday, October 30, Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, conferred the insignia of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters on Lou Reed, playwright, poet, musician, and photographer.

Both through his solo work and as a founding member of the legendary Velvet Underground, Lou Reed has established himself as one of the most influential figures in rock music history. Since his early days with the Velvets in the late 1960s, Lou Reed has been celebrated for his raw honesty and singular vision. His solo work ranges from the poetic social commentary of Transformer and Berlin to the experimentalism of Metal Machine Music. Reed has collaborated with such artists as David Bowie, Ornette Coleman, Peter Gabriel, Gorillaz. Most recently, he partnered with metal luminaries Metallica to produce the album Lulu, set to be released at the end of this month.

Reed continues to have a large following in Europe. His 2-CD set, The Raven, inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, was enthusiastically received in France and his Metal Machine Music was adapted in 2002 for an orchestral performance by the German ensemble Zeitkratzer.

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) was created in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as individuals who have contributed to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order, which is composed of three ranks (chevalier, officer, commander), is given out twice annually to only a few hundred people worldwide. Several Americans have received the award, including Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Uma Thurman.

For more pictures of the event, visit our Flickr page .