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Olivier Berggruen (born 14 September 1963) is a German-American art historian and curator,[1][2] described by the Wall Street Journal as playing "a pivotal role in the art world."[3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Winterthur, Switzerland, Berggruen is the son of noted German art collector Heinz Berggruen and actress Bettina Moissi. He graduated from the College of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and completed his graduate studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, where he studied with Anita Brookner, who was his advisor.[4][5]


He briefly worked at the auction house Sotheby's in London, before serving as curator at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt.[6][7] He has lectured at numerous institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, The National Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C., the 92nd Street Y, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Paris Institute of Political Studies.[8] He currently serves as chairman of the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was the recipient of the 2009 Berliner Zeitung Media Award.[9]

Berggruen has curated a number of international exhibitions, such as a retrospective of Yves Klein at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and one of Beatrice Caracciolo at the French Academy in Rome.[10] He is a contributor to the Huffington Post, for which he writes articles on art, literature, and philosophy.[11] Additionally, he has written extensively on Picasso, Yves Klein, and Henri Matisse, among others, for organizations including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, publications such as Artforum and The Print Quarterly, and for Gagosian Gallery, for which he contributed with University of Cambridge professor Mary Jacobus.[12][13] His first book, The Writing of Art, is a series of essays, which explores aesthetics through the lens of twentieth-century art, tracing movements and trends such as the ontological discontinuity of modernism in Picasso's ballets. He is currently working on two book projects, including a history of collecting and a study of Wittgenstein's aesthetics, and will be lecturing at the Courtauld Institute in the 2017–18 academic year.[11] Recently, the Italian government has commissioned Berggruen to curate an exhibition to celebrate the centennial of Picasso's Italian journey. “Picasso: From Cubism to Classicism, 1915 to 1925,” will be held at Rome's Scuderie del Quirinale from September 22st, 2017, through January 21st, 2018.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

Berggruen lives in New York City with his wife, Desiree, whom he met while both were studying at Brown. She is a doctor, and together they have two children, Tobias and Ana.[16] His brother is billionaire and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen; he additionally has two half-siblings, John, a San Francisco-based art dealer, and Helen, a painter.[17][18][19][20] He serves on various committees at institutions across the world, including Brown University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Modern, Picasso Museum in Paris, Courtauld Institute, Museum Berggruen, and Mariinsky Ballet.[21][22]

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Writing of Art, Pushkin Press, 2012.[23]
  • "The Fragmented Self" in Dieter Buchart ed., Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now's the Time, Prestel, 2015.
  • "The Theater as Metaphor" in Olivier Berggruen and Max Hollein eds., Picasso and the Theater, Hantje Cantz, 2007.
  • Editor (with Max Holbein), Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors: Masterpieces from the Late Years, Prestel, 2006.
  • “Ed Ruscha: Ribbon of Words” in Ed Ruscha: The Drawn Word, Edited with Essay, Windsor Press (2004), pp. 1 - 7
  • “The Prints of Jean-Michel Basquiat”, Print Quarterly, XXVI (2009): pp. 28 - 38
  • “The Future of Painting” in Portraits Lost in Space: George Condo, Pace Wildenstein, New York (1999), pp. 30 - 34
  • “The Realm of Pure Sensations” in Playing With Form: Neoconcrete Art From Brazil, Edited with Essay, Dickinson New York (2011), pp. 19 - 27
  • “Picasso & Bacon: Painting the Other Self” in Francis Bacon and the Tradition of Art, Edited by Wilfried Seipel, Barbara Steffen, Christoph Vitali, Skira Editore S.p.A. (2003), pp.71 - 83
  • “The Summons to Living Things to Return Home” in Cy Twombly: Bacchus, Gagosian Gallery, 2005, pp. 5 -15
  • “The Landscape of the Mind” in Agnes Martin, Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG Zurich (2008)


  1. ^ A. K. Thomson, "'Homeless billionaire' Nicolas Berggruen on putting down LA roots", The Financial Times, November 13, 2017. "Olivier, [Nicholas] Berggruen's brother, is an influential New York-based art historian and curator."
  2. ^ Allen, Greg (2006-11-05). "Rule No. 1: Don't Yell, 'My Kid Could Do That'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  3. ^ Mary M. Lane, "A Family's Legacy Grows in Berlin", The Wall Street Journal
  4. ^ "venetia kapernekas gallery". 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  5. ^ "Olivier Berggruen on Anita Brookner (1928–2016) - / passages". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  6. ^ Korman, Sam (2011-10-14). "The Brazilian Form - News - Art in America". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  7. ^ "Arts & Sociétés". 2006-06-29. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  8. ^ "In Conversation: Olivier Berggruen and Anabelle Kienle Poňka". Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Guggenheim Museum Bilbao" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  11. ^ a b "Olivier Berggruen". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  12. ^ "Picasso Black and White". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  13. ^ "Cy Twombly". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  14. ^ Alexandra Wolfe."Picasso's Productive Roman Holiday, Wall Street Journal, September 8th, 2017.
  15. ^ McDonald, Alison (October 9, 2017). "Picasso in Italy: An Interview with Olivier Berggruen". Gagosian Quarterly.
  16. ^ "The Curator — Olivier Berggruen - Steinway & Sons". Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  17. ^ "Heinz Berggruen, Influential Picasso Collector, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  18. ^ Ward, Vicky (2016-05-11). "Nicolas Berggreun Interview- Why Nicolas Berggreun is Creating an Institute for Geniuses". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  19. ^ "Jacques Herzog explains the spheres in his design for the Berggruen Institute | Design & Architecture". Retrieved 2018-06-17. "[Nicolas] Berggruen [is the] son of the late Heinz Berggruen, a prominent art dealer, and brother of art critic and historian Olivier Berggruen."
  20. ^ "The T&C 50: The Most Influential Families in Media, Art, and Culture". Town & Country. 2018-10-17. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  21. ^ "Mariinsky Foundation of America". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  22. ^ Board of Governors, John Carter Brown Library of Brown University
  23. ^ "Olivier Berggruen, The Writing of Art". 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2016-06-21.

External links[edit]


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