Jean-Michel Othoniel was born on January 27, 1964 in Saint-Etienne, France. As a young man, Othoniel transformed his own personal mythologies into works of art, utilizing a variety of media, such as installation, film, sculpture, and photography. Throughout the 1990s, Othoniel primarily sculpted in brimstone, then turned to volcanic glass after a trip to Sicily where he observed the materials results of the volcanic activity on the island first-hand.

In 1992 he participated in Documenta, Kassel and the Istanbul Biennial. Two years later he showed at the Féminin/Masculin exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. From the mid-1990s Othoniel concentrated on the metamorphosis of glass and began collaborating with C.I.R.V.A. (Centre International du Verre et Arts Plastiques) in Marseilles and with the glass masters of Murano in Venice. In 1997, he had his first solo show in Venice in the garden of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The following year a retrospective of his work was held in Spain (in Granada and Bilbao).

In 2000, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Paris Métropolitain, Othoniel was commissioned to execute Le Kiosque des Noctambules, the new entrance to the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre metro station a place Colette. The aluminum structure features eight hundred Murano glass beads. In 2004, the Louvre invited Othoniel to participate in the Contrepoint exhibition hosted by the Department of Oriental Antiquities. Two years later, he exhibited again at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, for which he crafted a large necklace made of blown glass, Peggy’s Necklace (2006). Othoniel lives and works in Paris.