French Cultural Award Honors Prof’s Museum Work
Authority on Impressionism Has Championed Arts Collaboration Program

Rick Brettell, Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetics at The University of Texas at Dallas, has received a commandeur certificate from the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters).

Dr. Rick Brettell

Dr. Rick Brettell

The award is the most prestigious of its type in France.  The honor is conferred on no more than 20 people per year. 

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is an Order of France, established in 1957 by the Minister of Culture, and confirmed as part of the Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Its purpose is to recognize significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields. 

Brettell is in good company: Fellow commandeurs include T.S. Eliot, Clint Eastwood, Marcel Marceau, Bob Dylan and Ray Bradbury. Brettell had been a chevalier, or knight, for many years. He bypassed the next level, officier, which is awarded to only 60 recipients a year, and went straight to commandeur, as an acknowledgement of his years of work for The French Regional & American Museum Exchange (FRAME), which is headquartered in Paris and at UT Dallas. 

From 1988-1992, Brettell served as The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.  He is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on Impressionism and French painting of the period 1830-1930, and has a special place in his heart for France. 

“I well remember when my chevalier arrived in the mail C.O.D. from France,” Brettell said. “But the medal was so beautiful and the honor so great that I let bygones be bygones.  Now, I get to have a formal investiture in one of my favorite French cities, Strasbourg. But if the truth were properly told, I should just receive the green and white silk ribbon, while the medal itself should go to Pierrette Lacour, FRAME’s coordinator and my assistant and right hand at UT Dallas.” 

FRAME, founded in 1999, is a formal collaboration of museums in the United States and France which serves as a catalyst for cultural exchange. FRAME is dedicated to promoting French-American cooperation in the cultural arena of museums, their collections and their professional staffs.  It fosters enduring partnerships based on common projects and exchanges of information, personnel, technology and resources. Thanks to this unique consortium, extraordinary collections are placed at the service of an ever-wider public on both sides of the Atlantic. One such collection, from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France, is presented in the nationally touring exhibition The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, which will be on view at the Dallas Museum of Art Oct. 3, 2010 – Jan. 2, 2011.

New Brettell Book Explores Artist Magee

Brettell has just released a book, James Magee:  The Hill, an extended treatise on artist James Magee's life and an art historical analysis of his grand desert installation.

The Hill is a complex of four stone pavilions joined by ramps and walkways covering 2,000 acres in West Texas.

For those who can’t make the drive to El Paso, The Nasher Sculpture Center includes 20 of Magee’s relief sculptures in an exhibition, “Revelation: The Art of James Magee,” on display through Nov. 28.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].