Jean-Michel Othoniel

Born in 1964, Jean-Michel Othoniel is one of the most internationally recognized French artists. Favoring materials with poetic and sensitive properties, the artist began in the early 1990s to create works in wax or sulfur, which will be presented in 1992 by Jan Hoet at the Documenta de Cassel.

The following year, the introduction of glass marked a turning point in his work. Collaborating with the best craftsmen of Murano, he explores the properties of this material which becomes its signature. The delicacy of the glass and the subtlety of its colors are part of the artist’s vast project: to poetize and enchant the world.

In 1996, he joined the Villa Medici in Rome. From this point on, he began to dialogue his works with the landscape, hanging giant necklaces in the gardens of the Villa Medici, the trees of the Venetian Garden of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (1997), as well as the Alhambra and the Generalife in Granada (1999). His artworks, a kind of forbidden fruit, live into the landscape, the foliage, as organic growths absorbing shade and diffracting light.

In 2000, Jean-Michel Othoniel was commissioned for the first time and, a century after Hector Guimard, transformed the Paris metro station Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre into a Noctambule kiosk: a double crown of glass and aluminum conceals a bench, for casual encounters in the sleepy city. Presented at Private Choice, his Pearls Lamps echo this iconic creation.


Jean-Michel Othoniel was born in 1964 in Saint-Etienne. He lives and works in Paris. His works are curated in the most important museums of contemporary art, foundations and private collections in the world.

He began his career in the 1980s, working on multiple media (drawing, sculpture, installation, photography, writing and performance) and favoring materials with poetic and sensitive properties.

He has been using glass since 1993 and it is from his time at the Villa Medicis (1996), that he began to make his works interact with landscapes and play with light. With glass, Working with the best craftsmen of Murano, glass has becoming his signature.

In 2000, a century after Hector Guimard, he created the Kiosque des Noctambules, transforming the Palais-Royal – Musée du Louvre station.

In 2004, the Louvre Museum invited him to exhibit as part of the “Counterpoint” exhibition. This was the opportunity to create his first self-supporting necklaces, including Rivière Blanche, which was then acquired by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

His works now take on an architectural dimension. He is regularly invited to create in situ installations, that dialogue with historical sites as well as with contemporary architecture.

For example, he has on several occasions created sculptures for Peter Marino and Jean Nouvel.


  • 1996 / Résidence à la villa Médicis, Rome, Italie
  • 1983 – 1988 / Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts, Cergy-Pontoise, France


  • 2018 / Académien dans la section Sculpture, élu par l’Académie des Beaux-Arts, Institut de France, France
  • 2011 / Résidence au Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
  • 2009 / Mission en Inde, Institut Français
  • 2006 / Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France
  • 2001 / Résidence à Miami, Etats-Unis
  • 1999 / Résidence au PICA, Portland, Etats-Unis
  • 1996 / Résidence à la villa Médicis, Rome, Italie
  • 1992 – 1993 / Lauréat de la villa Médicis Hors-les-Murs, Madrid, Espagne
  • 1990 – 1993 / Centre International de Recherche sur le Verre et les Arts plastiques (CIRVA), Marseille, France
  • 1989 / Résidence à la Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, France
  • 1988 / Résidence à la Villa Saint-Clair, Sète, France
  • 1986 / « Prix Tremplin », Musée du Donjon, Niort, France