German Artist Imi Knoebel to Receive French Honor

Knoebel has been made 'noble' with the distinction.

Imi Knoebel. Courtesy of Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Photo Julian Stratenschult.

German Artist Imi Knoebel is being recognized by the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters).

The French ambassador to Germany, Philippe Etienne, will present the artist with the distinction of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres on Saturday in Düsseldorf, the German press agency DPA reports.

The Order of Arts and Letters is an Order of Merit in France, established in 1957 by the Minister of Culture. Since its inception, its purpose has been the recognition of significant contributions to the field of arts and literature.

The Order has three grades: Chevalier (Knight), which is succeeded by Officier (Officer), followed by its highest honor, Commandeur (Commander).

Knoebel is set to receive the Chevalier (Knight) of the Order, symbolized by an eight-point, green-enameled asterisk in silver, which is awarded to up to 200 recipients a year.


Imi Knoebel’s stained glass in Reims for which the artist refused payment.

Imi Knoebel’s influential oeuvre includes sculpture, painting, installation, and photography. The German artist is celebrated in France, notably for his recent pro bono design of three new stained glass windows for the Cathedral of Reims in France, which was severely damaged in World War I.

Finalized a century after the destruction, Knoebel’s gift “helped heal an open wound” in the relationship between the two nations, after the cathedral was bombed in 1914 by German forces. His vitrines have since become “a symbol of the Franco-German friendship and peace in Europe,” making the artist a fitting choice for this year’s honor.

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