Known for probing his guests to step far beyond talking points and orchestrating unexpected onstage pairings, Paul Holdengräber is the founding executive director of The Onassis Foundation LA. He founded and directed LIVE from the New York Public Library for 14 years. A self described "curator of public curiosity," Holdengräber interviewed and hosted over 650 programs at the NYPL alone. He has spoken to everyone from Patti Smith to Zadie Smith, Ricky Jay to Jay-Z, Errol Morris to Jan Morris, Wes Anderson to Christopher Hitchens, Orhan Pamuk to Pico Iyer, Carlo Ginzburg to Claude Lanzmann, William Kentridge to Edwidge Danticat, Harry Belafonte to Rick Rubin, Toni Morrison to Anish Kapoor, Jessye Norman to Van Cliburn, Christopher Hitchens to Malcolm Gladwell, Werner Herzog to Mike Tyson, to name a few.
Prior to joining The New York Public Library in 2004, Holdengräber founded and served as the director of the Institute for Art and Cultures at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In 2014, the French government awarded him the Officier des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of his cultural contributions. He was decorated with the Austrian Cross of Science and Art by the Austrian President.
He holds a Bachelor's Degree from the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Getty Research Institute from 1995 to 1996, before starting at LACMA the following year. He has taught at Williams College, the University of Miami, and Claremont Graduate University. He has been a Fellow at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities (University of Southern California) and served as a Board Member at the Santa Monica Museum of Art from 2000 to 2004. He is on the Board of the Sun Valley Writers Conference, The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, and the New York Center for Ballet and the Arts. Fluent in four languages, Holdengräber lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.