Houstonians may know #FredBaldwin as the co-founder of @fotofest , but prior to creating the organization with Wendy Watriss, he spent decades traveling the country and world as a photojournalist. His adventures led him to locations where few or no photographers had gone before, and sometimes involved great personal risk. Don't miss a special opportunity to hear from the author at a reading and book signing at the #Menil next Wednesday, August 28 at 7 p.m. As always, admission is free.
According to the #Menil 's Associate Research Curator Clare Elliott, American artist #DorotheaTanning "was woefully under-recognized for as much work as she accomplished. This is one step in correcting that, hopefully." Elliott spoke to Molly Glentzer for her @houstonchron review, which is aptly titled "Don’t call her Mrs. Max Ernst." See "Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning" in our main building through October 13.
Membership Month at the #Menil goes until August 31! Join this month and receive two complimentary invitations to the private opening of our major exhibition, "Mapa Wiya (Your Map's Not Needed ): Australian Aboriginal Art from the Fondation Opale" this September. As a member, you'll be invited to see the exhibition before its public opening. Plus, you can join us for a special panel on the exhibition featuring Bérengère Primat, Georges Petitjean, and the Menil's Curator of Collections Paul R. Davis. This is the year to learn more, do more, and see more at the Menil Collection! Visit the link in our profile to join today.
"I have thought of and painted a 'sublime' picture!" Belgian artist #RenéMagritte wrote in a letter in February 1959, above a sketch of what would become this painting, "The Glass Key (La clef de verre )." In the finished work, a crystalline blue boulder balances on the frozen crest of an icy mountain range. Rendered in his naturalistic and highly detailed style, the scene seems to defy gravity, but #Magritte was clear on how it should be read: "It is not a case of a levitation or of a sort of 'motionless' avalanche," he later wrote another friend. "My intention was to paint the image of a stone, and inspiration showed me it should be set atop a mountain." Stones were a recurrent subject in Magritte's later work. At once ordinary and unknowable, their inert presence suggested to him a great mystery. By inserting such commonplace objects into strange or uncanny situations, as here, Magritte made the familiar feel abruptly unknowable, challenging the viewer's sense of what is real. This work is currently on view in our #Surrealism galleries. #RediscoverMenil
Knowing the land, moving through it, and living with its deeply embedded storylines animate the rich visual expression of Australian Aboriginal artists. Reflecting on the long history of art making and different ways of Aboriginal peoples, "Mapa Wiya (Your Map's Not Needed ): Australian Aboriginal Art from the Fondation Opale" highlights work created after the 1950s and includes more than 100 contemporary paintings, shields, hollow log coffins (larrakitj or lorrkkon ), and engraved mother of pearl (lonka lonka or riji ). The exhibition opens to the public in the main building on September 13. #MapaWiya
What's in bloom at the #Menil ? Visitors have been enjoying these ligularia plants outside of #CyTwombly Gallery. The name is derived from the Latin "ligula," which means little tongue, and refers to the shape of the florets. You're invited to enjoy our parks and greenspaces from dawn to dusk daily. #MenilGreen
In #DorotheaTanning 's "Japanese Poses" (1967 ) and "Frieze" (1971 ), multiple pairs of intertwined bodies appear in elongated horizontal compositions that Tanning called "friezes." The long, narrow format was inspired by drawings that she had created on scraps of high-quality papers left over from the paper cutter. The distinct scroll-like presentation illustrating series of linked events imbues these works with a sense of time. See these works in our main building through October 13 in the exhibition "Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning."
You have through September 1 to see #MinekoGrimmer 's "Remembering Plato" (1992 ) at the #Menil The room-sized installation is comprised of two pyramid-shaped blocks of ice embedded with small pebbles. The ice is suspended above two water-filled basins, and as it melts, the pebbles fall, striking the brass rods and piano wires extended over each basin, thus producing a randomized musical performance. The resulting ripples in the water are reflected on the dark gallery walls. The pebbles are strategically positioned within the ice to create a crescendo, rendering audible the speed of a typically silent natural process. Called a "marvelous, Zen vacation from the noise of the world" by @HoustonChron , this is an experience you won't want to miss.
You won't want to miss any of the #Menil 's popular Noontime Talks this year. Kicking off the season, on August 16 our members are invited to a special curator-led tour of the colorful works of #JoeOverstreet , whom the @nytimes described as "an artist and activist who in the 1960s took abstract painting into the sculptural dimension and later created a home in New York for artists who had been ignored by the mainstream." Become a member and join us to learn about the trailblazing life of this modern American artist. This is the year to learn more, do more, and see more at the Menil Collection! Visit the link in our profile to join today.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples are advised that this text mentions the name of a deceased person. Opening in our main building on September 13, "Mapa Wiya (Your Map's Not Needed ): Australian Aboriginal Art from the Fondation Opale ( @fondationopale )" reflects on the long history of art making and different ways of Aboriginal peoples. Meaning "no map" in the Pitjantjatjara language of the Central Australian desert region, the exhibition title is drawn from a recent drawing, pictured here, by artist Kunmanara (Mumu Mike ) Williams (1952–2019 ), the first showing of his work in an American art museum. His recuperation of official government maps and postal bags is a pointed response to the foreign cartographies of the country that Australian Aboriginal peoples embody.
When American artist and writer #DorotheaTanning (1910–2012 ) moved to Paris in the 1950s, she encountered a thriving industry around the beau livre—a limited-edition book that pairs text with beautifully printed illustrations. Tanning worked on several such artist’s books over the next two decades. In the most accomplished of these projects, "In Flesh and Gold (En chair et en or )" (1973 ), Tanning created ten etchings to accompany the same number of her own haiku-like verses. Tanning, with master printer Georges Visat, carefully considered every aspect of the elegant volume’s design: cover, typeface, paper, presentation. Portions of the #MenilCollection Library's copy of "In Flesh and Gold" are on display in the exhibition "Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning," June 28—October 13, 2019, but you can explore it in its entirety on our website, menil.org.
Over the next year, #MenilCollection members will be invited to 15 exhibition openings, 38 staff-led tours, and 12 special parties. Members will also have the opportunity to learn from internationally recognized scholars and the #Menil ’s talented curatorial and conservation staff. Join the Menil and become a part of a special art community in Houston. Members who join during Membership Month this August will receive two complimentary invitations to the private opening of our major loan exhibition, "Mapa Wiya (Your Map's Not Needed ): Australian Aboriginal Art from the Fondation Opale." This is the year to learn more, do more, and see more at the Menil Collection! Visit the link in our profile to join today.
In the early 1960s, #AndyWarhol began a sensationalistic series of "death and disaster" paintings featuring gruesome images related to American popular culture. Using silkscreen, he reproduced photographs of violence: car crashes, suicides, and police dog attacks on Civil Rights demonstrators. Warhol used an image by #CharlesMoore that appeared in a Life magazine article from 1963 to create "Little Race Riot" (1964, pictured ). Moore captured a disturbing image of violence during a riot in Birmingham, Alabama in May of that year. Supporters of Martin Luther King Jr., who were protesting segregation at lunch counters, were attacked by the police with dogs and water hoses, and King himself was arrested. When asked about impetus for the "Race Riot" paintings, the artist remarked, "It was just something that caught my eye." Notably, "Little Race Riot" is not an image of death, but represents a peculiarly American form of violence and oppression. This work is now on view in our main museum building. #RediscoverMenil #WarholWednesday
On view in our main building is an 18th-century portrait of William Ansah Sessarakoo (ca. 1735–1770 ) by British painter #GabrielMathias (1719–1804 ). Dressed in a vibrant red coat trimmed with ornate silver braid, Sessarakoo holds a tricorne hat under his left arm; his dark hair is fashioned in the style of a European gentlemen's wig. Mathias painted Sessarakoo in the tradition of so-called Grand Tour portraiture, a genre employed by aristocratic white men to project a well-traveled, enlightened personage. This sitter's confident and defiant gaze is similarly provocative. Sessarakoo was the son of Eno Basie Kurentsi, a wealthy Fante caboceer or middleman controlling the lucrative commerce of slaves and European imports in Anomabu, Ghana. Sent by his father to London, in an ironic twist of fate Sessarakoo was kidnapped and enslaved while transferring ships in the Caribbean. This painting marked his celebratory arrival in London following his emancipation orchestrated by his father’s European associates. Sessarakoo's tour of London included attending theatrical performances, lessons in Christianity, and several high-profile social events. He returned to Anomabu in 1750 with great local fanfare and, despite the trauma of having been enslaved, he became an influential caboceer during one of the most active periods of the Atlantic slave trade.
"I read in a magazine that Nancy Green, who was born in slavery in Kentucky, cooked around a million pancakes at the 1893 Chicago World's Exposition in order to save a pancake flour company. She made me think of my grandmother, my mother, and I thought she must have been very tired. And I knew Jemima was tired of that role."—Artist #JoeOverstreet spoke to @tate about his work "The New Aunt Jemima" (1964, 1970 ), which is on view now in our main building's contemporary galleries. #RediscoverMenil
August is Membership Month at the #Menil ! When you become a member, you join a special community of people who are passionate about the museum and its mission. Members gain access to benefits such as curator-led tours, exclusive exhibition openings, and special members-only events. Plus, your membership supports the museum's dedication to access and excellence, and it helps ensure a strong future for the institution and those we serve. This is the year to learn more, do more, and see more at the Menil Collection! Visit the link in our profile to join today.
48 framed watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings constitute Roni Horn's "Th Rose Prblm" (2015 ), on view now in the exhibition "Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw." The artist takes an overused literary quotation: "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," from Gertrude Stein's 1913 poem "Sacred Emily," and intercuts the main quote with a cliché, "come up smelling like roses," and its permutations. Like Stein, Horn plays with the double meaning of rose as both a woman’s name and a flower. One example reads, "Rose is a rose coming up roses smelling like a rose is a rose." The viewer is asked to grasp the two passages as they splinter, conflate, and multiply.
"Stretched across three canvases, [artist #CyTwombly 's] pièce de résistance explodes with vibrant color, yet that color remains enveloped in a Twomblian white emptiness, with words and scribbles emerging from those pale mists. 'It's a passage through everything,' Twombly said of the work — and within this one painting, it seems both all and none of Twombly passed."—Tyler Malone in @lareviewofbooks on the artist's monumental "Untitled (Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor )" (1994 ), on view now in our Cy Twombly Gallery.
Our new installation in the main building is a selection of vessels from the #Menil 's permanent collection. The oldest vessels are three different types of Greek amphorae, dating to between the 6th and 3rd centuries BCE. They were used to transport oil, wine, and other commodities throughout the Mediterranean. Greek ceramic ware technology was one of their principal exports and, along with the contents, helped to make the colonies influential in the Mediterranean. The newest work is Andrew Lord's "tasting: vase, dish, and cup" from ca. 1995. It is comprised of three elements—the vase, dish, and cup—and is on display now for the first time.
Visitor-favorite "Cousins" (1971 ) is back on view in "Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning" after its European tour with the artist's major exhibition organized by @tate and @museoreinasofia In performing a routine condition check, Associate Objects Conservator Kari Dodson remarked to exhibition curator Clare Elliott that #DorotheaTanning used pink thread to sew the sculpture. Whether intentionally cheeky or not (the thread can't be seen by simply looking at the sculpture ), the Menil staff enjoyed learning this new tidbit about the work.
"Wax is stable, which is nice. It resembles flesh and has a translucence. And that's what I think I like about it. And it's a metaphorical reference to candles. I grew up Catholic, and the flame of the candle and the burning down of the candle being a metaphor for life, and the wax being used in the human form all made sense to me." Artist #RobertGober spoke to the #Menil 's Chief Conservator Brad Epley about the use of wax in his work in 2013. This sculpture, "Untitled" (1999–2000 ) is on view now in our main building's contemporary galleries.
Roni Horn talks about her series Remembered Words (2012–13 ) in terms of extracting words from her memory as well as from her moment-to-moment awareness. Some words flow effortlessly into neat rows, while others stutter onto the page, partially obscured by paint. The artist explains, "The words have no context. They are someone else's recall, present as evidence or residue of something the viewer cannot know."
Created in 1970, #RobertRauschenberg 's "Signs" is a visual compilation of some of the most important events of the previous decade. Political turmoil, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, and John Kennedy, are depicted. The artist also included an image of Buzz Aldrin in his space suit during the 1969 #Apollo11 moon landing—a symbol of hope for the United States during a decade of upheaval. This work, pictured here on the right, was featured in our 2014–15 exhibition "Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence." #MoonMonday #Apollo50 #Apollo11at50
"All viewers are equal—no one is told how to see."—Linda Wolk-Simon writes about the Menil experience and the #MenilDrawingInstitute in @apollomagazine 's March issue. Visitors are invited to the new building and the exhibition "Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw" part II Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free, always.
Roni Horn created the forms in her Hamilton Reds series with powdered pigments mixed with turpentine. The brushed-on color clings, sometimes over charcoal, at other times directly on the smooth paper support. The artist sliced the paper and reassembled the pieces so that the assertive, energy-filled edges abut. Describing the process as architectural, Horn uses the tectonic term "plates" to refer to the cut paper, and she regards their edges as physical material akin to geological fault lines. A number of these works are exhibited in part II of "Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw," on view through September 1 in the #MenilDrawingInstitute
Though she began her career as a painter, artist Robyn O'Neil ( @robyn_oneil ) had fully committed her practice to drawing by the early 2000s. Working with a mechanical pencil, she creates scenes that place generically attired "everymen" in vast and foreboding vistas, enmeshing man and landscape with no clear protagonist. For O'Neil, these human figures allow her to create narratives that speak to the state of the world. In "Studies in Suffocation I" (2016 ), dozens of men are all but consumed by a rolling landscape. Whether huddled together or set apart, there is a menacing loneliness to their given condition. You can see this work in our main building, and hear from the artist herself in a talk this September at the #Menil #RediscoverMenil
In conjunction with "Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw," the Menil invited American artist #RoniHorn to install her recent wall drawing "Wits' End Sampler" (2018 ) in the central gathering space of the #MenilDrawingInstitute The work consists of hundreds of hand-written idioms and clichés that the artist has collected over the years. "Elvis has left the building," "it takes two to tango," and "happy as a clam" are among the arcane and familiar phrases silkscreened onto a thirty-foot wall in the naturally lit space. Tomorrow, June 12, #Menil members are invited to a special noontime talk with Assistant Exhibitions Coordinator Alexis Pennington on the production of this site-specific drawing. Image: Roni Horn, "Wits’ End Sampler" (detail ), 2018. Handwritten idioms individually silkscreened directly on wall in unique configuration (approx. 50 custom colors ), dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © Roni Horn. Photo: Paul Hester
In the early 1970s, artist #RichardSerra began experimenting with paintstick (a wax and carbon-based medium ) on canvas. To make them, Serra first prepares a Belgian linen canvas in the studio with gesso and rabbit-skin glue (which slightly stiffens the fabric ) and then laboriously covers the expansive surface with paintstick. To install the work, he fastens it to the wall with staples, cuts the canvas, and then builds up more pigment. One of these site-specific paintstick drawings on linen, "Two Corner Cut: High Low" (2012 ), was completed for the “Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective” at the Menil, and is on view now in our main building.
"Drawing is about the relationship with oneself, it's something I need to do."—Roni Horn. The catalogue accompanying the artist's exhibition of drawings, which features an essay by Senior Curator Michelle White, is available now in the @menilbookstore The second part of the exhibition "Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw" is now on view in the #MenilDrawingInstitute #RoniHorn
Max Ernst's "Monday the Moon is Most Moon (Le lundi la lune s'enlunit )" (1964 ) from our collection was first exhibited in Houston at the University of St. Thomas ( @stthomashouston ) in 1969. Interestingly, the painting was featured 50 years ago in an exhibition called "The Sky is the Limit"—the same year as the moon landing. #MoonMonday #Apollo50 #Apollo11at50
#MinekoGrimmer 's "Remembering Plato" (1992 ) is an installation composed of two pyramid-shaped blocks of ice embedded with small pebbles. The ice is suspended above water-filled basins and illuminated on an angle with theater lights. The title of the work alludes to the allegory of the cave from the ancient Greek text "The Republic" written by Plato. In it, the philosopher Socrates recounts how prisoners shackled in a cave since birth are unable to imagine or understand the world beyond their sight and thus confuse shadows projected on a wall with full entities. This title invites viewers to ponder metaphysical questions such as the nature of truth versus illusion, ignorance versus wisdom, and the ambiguity of perception. This work is now on view in "Contemporary Focus: Mineko Grimmer" in our main building through September 1.
In February of 2020 the Menil Collection will feature the drawings of contemporary artist #BriceMarden in the #MenilDrawingInstitute "Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden's Drawings" is an exploration of the artist's draftsmanship and the role the medium plays within his practice. This exhibition presents six series of drawings that span nearly the entirety of Marden's ongoing career, highlighting the processes of invention that occur in his works on paper.
In Dorothea Tanning's "Voyeurs" (1970 ), a trio of small animals on the upper right of the composition violate boundaries of the female form by peeking into windows. This distorted image of domestic life, where male authority figures are conspicuously absent, is a recurring theme in her works featured in "Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning." See the exhibition on view in our main building through October 13.
Happy #4thofJuly! This drawing, "Two Flags" (1969 ) by American artist #JasperJohns , was purchased by John and Dominique de Menil in 1970. It was recently on view in the inaugural exhibition in the #MenilDrawingInstitute , "The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns." . Please note that all of our art buildings and @menilbookstore are closed for the holiday today. We'll resume regular hours beginning tomorrow, July 5.
"Death of the Moon (Mort de la lune )" (1932 ) by Victor Brauner was inspired by the 18th century gothic novel "The Monk" by Matthew Lewis. A scandalous story replete with violence, sexual obsession, and sorcery, "The Monk," though critically condemned, remained popular with audiences, including the Surrealists, into the 20th century. Here, artist Victor Brauner depicts the novel's protagonist Ambrosio as a modern bourgeois in a boater hat and business suit. At the end of Lewis's tale, Ambrosio is abducted by a winged demon to be tortured for his sins. In the painting, Brauner humorously swaps the demon for a wing-shaped umbrella. On the right side of the canvas, the more gruesome aspects of Brauner's source are suggested by a severed female head that hovers inside the jacket of an empty suit. #MoonMonday #Apollo50 #VictorBrauner #Apollo11at50
Named one of @papercitymag 's "Texas' 12 Best Books of the Year" in 2016, "As Essential as Dreams: Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Stephanie and John Smither" examines the Houston-based couple's approach to the process of collecting, their relationships with artists, and selected works from their holdings. The book was published on the occasion of our 2016 exhibition featuring works from this remarkable promised gift to the #Menil , and is available now in @menilbookstore
We are pleased to share that due to overwhelming enthusiasm from visitors, "Contemporary Focus: Mineko Grimmer" has been extended through September 1, 2019 in our main building. The exhibition features Grimmer's room-sized installation "Remembering Plato" (1992 ), a sound-producing kinetic sculpture that is on view at the #Menil for the first time in 18 years. Using water and melting ice, artist #MinekoGrimmer explores notions of time, movement, silence, and sound. Her work seamlessly merges the Eastern traditions of Zen Buddhism and the Western aesthetic traditions of minimal and Conceptual Art. The resulting installation evokes a sense of calm and encourages contemplation by the viewer.
Breaking news: The #Menil hit a home run! In the @nytimes 's 5 Places to Visit in Houston, supermodel and actress @kateupton with her husband @astrosbaseball pitcher @justinverlander name the Menil Collection as one of their favorite spots in the city, saying that visiting is "something unique and fun to do." We're feeling like the MVP of museums. 📷: Bryan Schutmaat for The New York Times
Through experimenting with lithography, etching, and aquatint, artist #DorotheaTanning produced a variety of surface textures in her graphic work. Beginning today, you can see over 40 of these works on paper—including illustrated books—in "Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning" in our main museum building.