Kimsooja and David Bellos to Receive Insignia of the Order of Arts and Letters

New York, December 6, 2017—Kimsooja and David Bellos will be awarded the insignia of the Order of Arts and Letters by Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy on Friday, December 15, in New York. Kimsooja and Bellos receive these distinctions in recognition of their prolific career and contributions to the arts and literature.

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.

South Korean Kimsooja, to be awarded the Insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, is a multidisciplinary conceptual artist whose work melds light, photography, video, sound, performance, and installation to address formalistic questions as well as sensitive issues of migration, poverty, the human condition and the displaced self. Kimsooja is known for her use of bottari, a traditional Korean wrapping cloth, which she uses to explore existential questions on self and others, social and political justice, multi-cultural and religious conflicts which we face in this era. In France, she has exhibited at the Grand Palais, The Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon, Centre Pompidou Metz, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Basse-Normandie, Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint Etienne, among others. Kimsooja represented Korea at the 24th Sao Paulo Biennale (1998) and the Korean Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). She has also participated in over thirty major international biennials and triennials, including recently Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany.

Kimsooja received her BFA in 1980 and MFA in 1984 in painting at the Hongik University in Seoul. In 1984, she studied at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris with a lithography studio scholarship awarded by the French government and taught there in 2009. She has worked as an artist-in-residence at MoMA PS1, Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, France, the World Views Program at the World Trade Center, and Cornell University.

David Bellos, who will be awarded the Insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, is an Oxford-educated translator and biographer and currently serves as the Meredith Howland Pyne Professor of French Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. There he is also Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication. Passionate about French literature, Bellos received a BA in Medieval and Modern Languages (French and Russian) in 1967, and a Ph.D. in 1971 for his thesis entitled “Balzac Criticism in France, 1850-1900.” From 1972 to 1996, he served as lecturer and professor in French at various universities in England. He joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1997.

In 1988, he was awarded the insignia of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the French government. In 1988, he was awarded the IBM-France Translation Prize for his translation of Georges Perec’s Life A User’s Manual and in 1994, received the Prix Goncourt de la biographie for his book Georges Perec: une vie dans les mots. Most recently, in 2017, he won the American Library in Paris Book Award for The Novel of the Century. The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables.

The Order of Arts and Letters (ordre des Arts et des Lettres) is given out three times annually 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 partnership 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.

Media Contact:

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