Milwaukee Art Museum Director Knighted by French Ambassador

Posted on October 26th, 2007

Milwaukee, WI, October 26, 2007— The Milwaukee Art Museum is pleased to announce that David Gordon, Director and CEO of the Milwaukee Art Museum, has been named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the Ambassador of France to the United States, H.E. Pierre Vimont. The award, from France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, recognizes significant contribution to furthering the arts and letters in France and throughout the world. Gordon was honored with the award last night at a ceremony in the Museum’s Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, attended by members of the Museum’s President’s Circle donor organization and delegates to the conference of Alliance Français.

An award primarily reserved for French nationals, Mr. Gordon joins the esteemed company of foreign recipients such as Ella Fitzgerald, Robert Redford, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Jackson Pollock, who have received the award since its inception in 1957.

The occasion was surrounded by excitement over the recent opening of the Milwaukee-born exhibition Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity at the musée du Louvre in Paris on October 17.  Biedermeier examines the aesthetic trend of the same name that descended from neoclassicism and developed in central Europe between 1815 and 1848, the period of peace following the Napoleonic Wars.

“Under David Gordon’s leadership, several innovative and important projects were successfully realized at the Museum. Among his many notable accomplishments is the relationship he helped develop with the Louvre,” said Ambassador Vimont during his remarks. He added, “The relationship between these two honorable and very important institutions has not only made possible new forms of artistic partnership, it has been an inspiration to other museums, as well, and is emblematic of the kind of projects that we at the French Embassy most wish to encourage.”

Ambassador Vimont then finished, “For all these reasons, and notably for your significant contribution to the world of arts; for your leadership in the business and cultural communities; for your ongoing interest in France’s art and institutions; for the part you have played in furthering the friendship between our two nations: the French authorities are very pleased to honor you, David Gordon, here today, and to publicly acknowledge the importance of the impact of your achievements.”

After receiving the award, Gordon gave a brief speech in French highlighting the Museum’s roles in interpreting French art and culture. He then finished his remarks with his trademark, telegenic sense of humor. “I also gathered that the award has been given to Jude Law, who is almost as good looking as I am…I am very grateful to have been honored and to have been knighted by the government of France. I hope the government of the UK takes this hint. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, and enjoy your visit to Milwaukee.”

Last night’s event concluded with a French-language tour of the Museum’s renowned holdings of art from France, featuring the work of artists such as Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The Alliance Française de Milwaukee celebrates its 90th year as it hosts the Federation of Alliance Françaises USA Convention and Annual Meeting this week, October 24-28.

Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum in collaboration with the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin and the Albertina in Vienna, and has already shown at all three venues. It is curated by Laurie Winters, curator of earlier European art at the Museum, in collaboration with a team of international scholars.

About David Gordon:
Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum since 2002, David Gordon became Secretary of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1996 when the Academy was looking for a candidate who not only understood the world of arts, but could also apply strong management techniques. Gordon built a very strong staff and greatly increased financial support and stability during his tenure with the Academy. Born in London, England, he is a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, and did graduate work at the London School of Economics. In 1982 he attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. Gordon began his career as a financial journalist and became an assistant editor for The Economist. In 1978 he went into management there, and three years later was named CEO. In his 12 years as CEO of The Economist circulation world-wide went up from 180,000 to 500,000, and profit rose from $500,000 in 1981/82 to $22m in 1993/94.

Mr. Gordon has been a trustee of the Architecture Foundation (1991-2001), a governor of the British Film Institute (1982-1992), a board member of South Bank Centre (1988-1996); a trustee of the Tate Gallery (1993-1998), and chairman of the Contemporary Art Society (1992-1998). Gordon’s wife Maggi was born and raised in Mississippi. She has worked in publishing in London and is a writer on quilts and quilting.