Paul Holdengräber

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Paul Holdengräber
Paul Bernard Holdengräber

(1960-03-15) March 15, 1960 (age 61)
Houston, Texas, United States
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversité Catholique de Louvain
Spouse(s)Barbara Holdengräber

Paul Bernard Holdengräber (born March 15, 1960)[1] is an American interviewer, curator and writer. He was Director of New York Public Library (NYPL)'s Public Programming, most known for organizing literary conversations for the NYPL's public program series, LIVE from the NYPL, which he founded.[2][3][4] Since February 2012, he has hosted The Paul Holdengräber Show on the Intelligent Channel on YouTube.[5] He is founding Executive Director of The Onassis Foundation LA (OLA), a “center of dialogue” in Los Angeles, beginning in 2019.[6]

Early life[edit]

Holdengräber was born in Houston, Texas, to father Kurt Holdengräber, and Erica Holdengräber (née Hass).[1] His parents were Austrian Jews with roots in Romania and Poland who fled Austria to Haiti during World War II. Holdengräber's father was originally a second year medical student who was expelled for being Jewish.[7][8] Among a very small Jewish community of 107 families, Holdengräber's father grew vegetables and worked as a farmer in Haiti, where he met and married Holdengräber's mother.[9] The family moved from Haiti to Mexico City, where his older sister was born.[10] The family then moved from Mexico to Houston, and eventually settled in Brussels, Belgium.[11] Holdengräber spent much of his youth hitchhiking around Europe.[12]

Holdengräber studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. He received a bachelor's degree from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.[13][14] In 1995, Holdengräber received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton University.[15] From 1995 to 1996, he did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Getty Research Institute.


Los Angeles County Museum of Art[edit]

Holdengräber was the founder and director of the Institute for Arts and Culture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with the idea "to challenge the perception that museums are nothing more than mausoleums for Old Masters". Under Holdengräber's direction, the institute became an active and lively forum for debate with its ambitious lecture series in which painters, poets, performers, writers and thinkers address critical cultural issues through lively talks, discussions and performances.[13]

New York Public Library[edit]

In 2004, the then NYPL President Paul LeClerc hired Holdengräber to create a public program at the New York Public Library.[16] Holdengräber founded LIVE from the NYPL, a conversation series with writers, musicians, filmmakers and artists.[13] As the director of LIVE from the NYPL, Holdengräber interviewed hundreds of public personalities, including Patti Smith, Zadie Smith, Anish Kapoor, and Jay Z.[17][18]

He sees the New York Public Library as a storehouse of knowledge.[19][20] One of his memorable series of conversations was with the German filmmaker, Werner Herzog.[21]

He has worked in partnership with such organizations as Rolex, The Moth, and PEN World Voices.[22]

The Paul Holdengräber Show[edit]

On February 3, 2012, Holdengräber premiered an internet-television talk show called The Paul Holdengräber Show on YouTube's Intelligent Channel.[5] The show has featured interviews with Colum McCann, Elizabeth Gilbert and David Chang.[23]


He has taught at Princeton University, Williams College, the University of Miami and Claremont Graduate University.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Holdengräber lives in the Los Angeles, California, suburb of Glendale[24] with his wife, Barbara Holdengräber, a writer, and their two sons.[25] He speaks four languages: English, French, German, and Spanish.[11] In Brussels, he spoke French as well as Flemish.[26]


Board memberships[edit]

  • 2000-2004: Santa Monica Museum of Art
  • Sun Valley Writers Conference
  • Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, Trustee[11]
  • New York Center for Ballet and the Arts

Selected works and publications[edit]

Fluent in four languages, Holdengräber has also written essays and articles for journals in France, Germany, and Spain.[13]

  • Holdengräber, Paul (1995). Portrait of the Artist As Collector Walter Benjamin and the Collector's Struggle against Dispersion. Princeton University. OCLC 174013906.
  • Mouffe, Chantal; Holdengräber, Paul (translation) (1 January 1989). "Radical Democracy: Modern or Postmodern?". Social Text (21): 31–45. doi:10.2307/827807. JSTOR 827807. OCLC 5552739238.
  • Holdengräber, Paul (1 January 1992). "Between the Profane and the Redemptive: The Collector as Possessor in Walter Benjamin's "Passagen-Werk"". History and Memory. 4 (2): 96–128. ISSN 0935-560X. JSTOR 25618636. OCLC 5542798812.
  • Holdengräber, Paul (December 2012). "Hans Ulrich Obrist". Surface (104).
  • Holdengräber, Paul (2 March 2013). "'Music Is Enough for a Lifetime But a Lifetime Is Not Enough for Music:' Van Cliburn (1934-2013)". The Huffington Post.
  • Holdengräber, Paul (1 January 2014). "Interviews: Adam Phillips, The Art of Nonfiction No. 7". The Paris Review. Spring 2014 (208). ISSN 0031-2037.
  • Holdengräber, Paul (22 August 2016). "Was the Twentieth Century a Mistake? A Conversation with Werner Herzog". Brick (82).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Paul Bernard Holden Graber - Texas Birth Index". FamilySearch. 15 March 1960.
  2. ^ Battaglia, Andy (27 February 2014). "Where Everyone Looks Forward to the Hot Seat". The Wall Street Journal.
  3. ^ 25. Paul Holdengräber. The Believer. McSweeney's. Summer 2015. ISBN 978-1-940450-34-6.
  4. ^ Stocke, Joy E.; Nagy, Kim (23 October 2016). "Fountain of Curiosity - LIVEfromNYPL's Paul Holdengräber Stretches the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library". The Huffington Post.
  5. ^ a b Holdengraber, Paul (February 6, 2012). "Colum McCann Discusses 9/11 on the Launch of My Show (Video)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Renowned Interviewer and "Curator of Public Curiosity" Paul Holdengräber To Leave The New York Public Library After 14 Years". New York Public Library (press releases). November 5, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  7. ^ "Kurt Holdengräber". Memorial Book for the Victims of National Socialism at the University of Vienna in 1938. University of Vienna. 2 January 2009.
  8. ^ Tracy, Marc (5 April 2011). "Humorous? Yes. Tragic? Definitely". Tablet Magazine.
  9. ^ Holdengräber, Paul; Gilbert, Elizabeth (5 May 2011). "Elizabeth Gilbert in conversation with Paul Holdengraber" (Video, audio, and transcript). LIVE from the NYPL. New York Public Library.
  10. ^ Malone, Tyler (11 February 2013). "Paul Holdengräber". Full Stop.
  11. ^ a b c Batsha, Nishant (3 September 2015). "Meet Paul Holdengräber". Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.
  12. ^ McCann, Charlie (25 July 2015). "Paul Holdengräber". 1843.
  13. ^ a b c d e Hoerenz, Tina (15 June 2004). "Press Information: Paul Holdengraber New Director of Public Programs". New York Public Library. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ Valdes, Marcela (16 January 2016). "Hot Times at The Library. No Quiet, Please!: The New York Public Library has become a hot venue for book events, thanks to the tireless efforts of program director Paul Holdengraber". Publishers Weekly. 253 (3): 22–23. ISSN 0000-0019. OCLC 193707077.
  15. ^ Gollin, Andrea (27 January 2016). "Paul Holdengräber *95: The Art of Conversation". Princeton Alumni Weekly.
  16. ^ Oumano, Elena (12 October 2011). "The CityArts Interview: Paul Holdengräber". CityArts. p. 22.
  17. ^ Nagy, Kimberly; Stocke, Joy (2011). "Paul Holdengraber: The Afterlife of Conversation". Wild River Review.
  18. ^ Baron, Zach (16 November 2010). "Live: Jay-Z Talks Decoded and Ol' Dirty Bastard at the New York Public Library With Cornel West and Paul Holdengräber". The Village Voice.
  19. ^ Koivu, Lane (1 August 2015). "Interview with Paul Holdengräber". The Believer.
  20. ^ Koivu, Lane (Summer 2015). 25. Paul Holdengräber. The Believer. McSweeney's. ISBN 978-1-940450-34-6.
  21. ^ Holdengräber, Paul (22 August 2016). "Was the Twentieth Century a Mistake? Was the Twentieth Century a Mistake? A Conversation with Werner Herzog". Brick (82).
  22. ^ "Past Live Programs". New York Public Library.
  23. ^ "The Paul Holdengraber Show". YouTube - Intelligent Channel. YouTube. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  24. ^ Salisbury, Vanita (30 September 2008). "Paul Holdengräber Prefers Frog Legs and Melville". Daily Intelligencer. New York.
  25. ^ "Paul B Holdengraber - United States Public Records". FamilySearch. 2009.
  26. ^ Gardner, Jr., Ralph (24 October 2012). "Charmingly Full Of Chutzpah". The Wall Street Journal.
  27. ^ Aufstellung wird bei der Österreichischen Präsidentschaftskanzlei (23 April 2012). "10542/AB XXIV. GP - Anfragebeantwortung (elektr. übermittelte Version)" (PDF). Republik Österreichisches Parlament. p. 1941.
  28. ^ "Paul Holdengraber". New York Institute for the Humanities.

Further reading[edit]

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