France Honors Klaus Ottmann And Mark Polizzotti With The Order Of Arts And Letters

France Honors Klaus Ottmann And Mark Polizzotti With The Order Of Arts And Letters

New York City, December 19th, 2016 – Klaus Ottmann, scholar and Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and Mark Polizzotti, writer, translator, and Publisher and Editor in Chief at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will be conferred the insignia of chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy. The ceremony will take place at the Payne Whitney Mansion in New York, home to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

An award of the French Minister of Culture and Communications, the Order of Arts and Letters was established by the French government in 1957 to recognize eminent people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.

Klaus Ottmann is an accomplished author, curator, art critic, and scholar. Ottmann, who holds a Ph.D. from the European Graduate School, has been at the forefront of both curatorial and scholarly innovation for the past thirty years.

Since 2010, he has worked at The Phillips Collection, first as the museum’s Director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art and Curator at Large, and currently as Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs, a position he assumed in 2015. He was also Curator of Exhibitions at both the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery of Wesleyan University from 1988-1995 and the American Federation of Arts in New York from 1996-1999. At the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY, he served as the Robert Lehman Curator from 2008-2010.

Ottmann has curated over sixty exhibitions across Europe and the United States, including Love, Life, and Death: The Works of James Lee Byars (2004) at the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain in Strasbourg and the Schirn Kunsthalle Museum in Frankfurt, and Wolfgang Laib: A Retrospective (2000-2002) in Washington D.C., Dallas, and Munich. His curatorial projects have frequently included the works of French artists such as Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Cézanne, Degas, Bonnard, and Daumier, thus elevating the visibility of French artists in Europe and the United States.

As an author and scholar, Ottmann has published several works including The Genius Decision: The Extraordinary and the Postmodern Condition, The Essential Mark Rothko, and Thought Through My Eyes: Writings On Art, 1997-2005.

He has gained a reputation as a respected scholar of French artist Yves Klein having translated and published the first English compilation of Klein’s writings, Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein (Putnam: Spring Publications, 2007). He has written Yves Klein By Himself: His Life and Thought (Paris: Edition Dilecta, 2010) and Yves Klein: Works, Writings (Barcelona: Ediciones Poligrafa, 2010).

Mark Polizzotti,  Publisher and Editor in Chief at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, leads the museum’s scholarly publishing program, one of the world’s premier art book publishers. Under Polizzotti’s leadership, the museum publishes 25 to 30 new titles each year.

Prior to becoming the Metropolitan Museum’s Publisher in 2010, Polizzotti worked as the translator and editor of numerous exhibition catalogues for the museum, beginning in 1995. The catalogues included several dedicated to the work of French artists, such as The Private Collection of Edgar Degas (1997), Cézanne to Van Gogh: The Collection of Doctor Gachet (1999), zanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard (2006), and Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors (2009).

From 1999 to 2010, Polizzotti worked as the Publisher and Director of Intellectual Property at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. There, he oversaw the museum’s Publications and Digital Image Resources departments, working in archiving, licensing, and digital photography, and overseeing the publication of ten to twelve new titles per year.

Polizzotti has translated over forty French books, including the works of Gustave Flaubert, André Breton, Marguerite Duras, and Raymond Roussel. He also translated the works of modern French novelist Patrick Modiano, 2014 Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature.

Polizzotti received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French and Comparative Literature from Yale University in 1979, and a Master of Arts degree in French Literature from Columbia University in 1983. Following his studies, he pursued careers as an Assistant Editor at Random House, a Senior Editor at Grove Weidenfeld, and the Editorial Director at David R. Godine, Publisher.

Polizzotti is the author of several books, including Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton (1995), which became a PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Best Nonfiction finalist, and a monograph on the French poet Lautréamont, and his essays and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, ARTnews, The New Republic, The Nation, and elsewhere. In 2016, he was the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. Polizzotti is also a member of the “French Voices” jury, a joint-program of FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, which supports American publishers and translators to make available the best of French contemporary writing to the U.S.


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 Communications.  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. More information: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact

Camille Desprez, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, , +1.212.439.1417