Paul Bernard Holdengräber (born March 15, 1960) is an American interviewer, curator and writer. He is Director of New York Public Library (NYPL)’s Public Programming and is most known for organizing literary conversations for the NYPL's public program series, LIVE from the NYPL, which he founded. Since February 2012, he has hosted The Paul Holdengräber Show on the Intelligent Channel on YouTube.
Holdengräber was born in Houston, Texas, to father Kurt Holdengräber, and Erica Holdengräber (née Hass). 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. 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. The family moved from Haiti to Mexico City, where his older sister was born. The family then moved from Mexico to Houston, and eventually settled in Brussels, Belgium. Holdengräber spent much of his youth hitchhiking around Europe.
Holdengräber studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. He received a bachelor's degree from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. In 1995, Holdengräber received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton University. From 1995 to 1996, he did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Getty Research Institute.
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.
In 2004, the then NYPL President Paul LeClerc hired Holdengräber to create a public program at the New York Public Library. Holdengräber founded LIVE from the NYPL, a conversation series with writers, musicians, filmmakers and artists. As the director of LIVE from the NYPL, Holdengräber has interviewed hundreds of public personalities, including Patti Smith, Zadie Smith, Anish Kapoor, and Jay Z.
He sees the New York Public Library as a storehouse of knowledge. One of his memorable series of conversations was with the German filmmaker, Werner Herzog.
He has worked in partnership with such organizations as Rolex, The Moth, and PEN World Voices.
On February 3, 2012, Holdengräber premiered an internet-television talk show called The Paul Holdengräber Show on YouTube's Intelligent Channel. The show has featured interviews with Colum McCann, Elizabeth Gilbert and David Chang.
He has taught at Princeton University, Williams College, the University of Miami and Claremont Graduate University.
Holdengräber lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the Fort Greene neighborhood with his wife, Barbara Holdengräber, a writer, and their two sons. He speaks four languages: English, French, German, and Spanish. In Brussels, he spoke French as well as Flemish.2003: French Government, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres
Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at University of Southern California, Fellow
1995-1996: Getty Research Institute, Fellow
2010: Austrian President, Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art
New York Institute for the Humanities, Fellow
2000-2004: Santa Monica Museum of Art
Sun Valley Writers Conference
Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, Trustee
New York Center for Ballet and the Arts
Fluent in four languages, Holdengräber has also written essays and articles for journals in France, Germany, and Spain.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 (208). ISSN 0031-2037.
Holdengräber, Paul (22 August 2016). "Was the Twentieth Century a Mistake? A Conversation with Werner Herzog". Brick (82).