The Legion of Honor, an award conceived of back in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, was bestowed on writer and historian Annie Cohen-Solal today at France’s consulate in New York.
Cohen-Solal, who would become a preeminent authority on intellectual life in France during the 20th century, was born in pre-independence Algeria; she was among the tens of thousands of Jews who fled to France in the wake of the Algerian War of Independence.
She is best known for the books Jean-Paul Sartre: A Life, which has been translated into 18 languages, and Painting American, the Rise of American Artists: Paris 1867-New York 1948. Her forthcoming book, out this October, chronicles the life of New York-based Austro-Hungarian Jewish art dealer Leo Castelli, who was critical to the commercial success of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol.
Cohen-Solal currently serves a visiting professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and heads the American studies program at France’s University of Caen. She has also taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The National Order of the Legion of Honor — the highest award given out by the French government — recognizes outstanding achievement in the military, as well as in the private and public sectors. Cohen-Solal was awarded the insignia of chevalier.