CCA to Confer Honorary Doctorate on Art Critic Holland Cotter at 107th Commencement Exercises

Holland Cotter [Photo: Christopher Myers, courtesy Maryland Institute College of Art]

Holland Cotter, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic at the New York Times, will be recognized by California College of the Arts (CCA) with an honorary doctorate degree at its 107th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 17, at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco.

Cotter will deliver the commencement address to 500+ CCA graduates and their families. He will also be honored at a private lunch the day before and participate in the post-commencement reception at the college's San Francisco campus.

Praise from President Beal

CCA President Stephen Beal commented, “Holland Cotter is one of the foremost art critics writing today. He’s a man of extraordinary intellect with a broad range of interests and expertise that includes poetry, art history, contemporary art, and Asian art.

"We’re looking forward to a stimulating commencement speech that will inspire our audience of artists, architects, curators, designers, and writers.” 

About Holland Cotter

Holland Cotter has been a staff art critic at the New York Times since 1998. In 2009 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for a series of articles on art in China.

Between 1992 and 1997 he was a regular freelance writer for the newspaper. During the 1980s, he was a contributing editor at Art in America and an editorial associate at Art News.

In the 1970s, he coedited New York Arts Journal, a tabloid-format quarterly magazine publishing fiction, poetry, and criticism.

Art in city of New York has been his regular weekly beat, which includes all five boroughs and most of the city's art and culture museums. His subjects range from Italian Renaissance painting to street-based communal work by artist collectives.

Interest in Asian Art

For the Times, he has written widely about non-Western art and culture. In the 1990s, he introduced readers to a broad range of Asian contemporary art as the first wave of new art from China was building and breaking. He helped bring contemporary art from India to the attention of a western audience.


Born in Connecticut and raised in Boston, Cotter earned an AB from Harvard College, where he studied poetry with Robert Lowell and was an editor of the Harvard Advocate.

He later earned an MA from the City University of New York in American modernism, and an MPhil in early Indian Buddhist art from Columbia University, where he studied Sanskrit and taught Indian and Islamic art.

About California College of the Arts

Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) offers 22 undergraduate and 12 graduate programs in the areas of fine arts, architecture, design, and writing. The college offers BFA, BA, MFA, MA, MBA, BArch, MArch, and MAAD degrees. It has campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, and currently enrolls 1,950 full-time students. CCA students are encouraged to work in an interdisciplinary manner, undertaking projects and collaborations with students in other majors and engaging with outside communities.

Noted alumni include the artists Nathan Oliveira, Jules de Balincourt, Robert Arneson, Robert Bechtle, Viola Frey, and Peter Voulkos; the Oscar-winning filmmaker Audrey Marrs; the illustrator Tomie de Paola; the conceptual artists Harrell Fletcher, David Ireland, and Dennis Oppenheim; and the designers Lucille Tenazas, Michael Vanderbyl, and Gary Hutton. For more information about CCA, visit

For more information about CCA's 2014 commencement exercises, please call the college's Student Affairs Office at 510.594.3666.