About Michael Kimmelman

  • Des Moines
  • Art Center
  • 4700 Grand Ave
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • 515.277.4405
  • Hours | Directions

  • John & Mary Pappajohn
  • Sculpture Park
  • 13th and Grand Ave
  • Downtown
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Hours | Directions

Michael Kimmelman

Since he returned to New York from Europe in autumn 2011, Michael Kimmelman has been
reshaping the public debate about urbanism, architecture, and architectural criticism. In the few
brief months he has occupied the position of chief architecture critic for The New York Times,
he has started a kind of revolution, focusing on issues of public space, housing for the poor,
slums redevelopment, parks, and infrastructure. It has been the latest surprise in a career of
dizzying changes and accomplishments.  
     Before taking over as architecture critic, Kimmelman spent four years as a foreign correspondent
roving Europe and the Middle East, inventing his signature "Abroad" column. He wrote about the
return of negritude in France, about Flemish nationalism in Belgium, about the dying embers of
communism in the middle of Bulgaria, about life under Hamas in Gaza, about the tragic earthquake in
l'Aquila, about the opening of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, about the rise of the far-right in
Hungary, about Czech humor, and about cultural repression in Syria. He even won a national award
as the best writer on bullfighting in Spain. Having been the longtime chief art critic of the Times, he
surprised readers by writing about almost everything except art, although, in truth, he did that
sometimes, too. His articles appeared no fewer than six times on the front page of the Times in 2010
alone, and even more often than that in 2011, unheard of for any cultural criticism -- in those cases
publishing columns about, among other things, an Iranian orchestra's visit to Switzerland; Caravaggio's
rising popularity; a big Monet show in Paris, which was the first time a straight art review had ever been
published on the paper's front page; and also about how steamy Muslim soap operas have spread
Turkish influence across the Arab world. During late summer 2010, the Times asked him to come back
for a couple of weeks to write a blog about the U.S. Open tennis tournament, which, within a week,
attracted some 1.4 million readers. He published a much-celebrated series of articles on globalism and
culture, the Elgin marbles and the spread of the French language, and meanwhile continued to contribute
regularly to the New York Review of Books. 
     Michael Kimmelman, who holds degrees from Yale and Harvard, is also a concert pianist and performs
as a soloist and with chamber groups in New York and across Europe. He has hosted various television
features and appeared prominently in the 2007 documentary film "My Kid Could Paint That." His book
"The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa," was a national bestseller, described
by Time magazine as a "transcendent experience." "Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern,
the Louvre and Elsewhere," was named as a notable book of the year by The Washington Post and the Times,
and a best book of the year by Publisher's Weekly. He is beginning a new book on architecture and urbanism
in the 21st Century for Penguin Press. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer prize for criticism.