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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Exhibition unites donated artwork

John and Dominique de Menil’s gifts to numerous museums become viewers’ gifts this Friday, when the Menil Collection opens A Modern Patronage: de Menil Gifts to American and European Museums. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Menil Collection, roughly 45 works of art will be brought together for the first time under one renowned roof.

Since it opened to the public on June 8, 1987, the Menil has been widely acclaimed for its permanent collection, exhibitions and the building’s architectural design.

Apart from the impressive assemblage of Surrealist work that helps make up the approximately 15,000 pieces housed in the museum’s permanent collection, pieces by Surrealist artists Rene Magritte, Max Ernst and Jean Tinguely were donated by the de Menil’s to a range of museums worldwide. A Modern Patronage will include these endowments, as well as work by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, and African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art.

This collection will shed light on not only the artwork showcased, but also the de Menils themselves.

"Bringing together pieces of a puzzle provided an opportunity to understand the philosophy that guided the de Menil’s approach to patronage," Menil Director and organizer of A Modern Patronage Josef Helfenstein said in a release. "I hope this exhibition helps to illustrate that the Menil embodies the founders’ open-door approach to thinking about the possibilities of art."

The de Menils’ generosity extended to museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. The exhibition will include work purchased as early as the 1940s and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue that discusses the de Menils’ roles as patrons of the arts.

A Modern Patronage will be on view through Sept. 16 at the Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross St. Admission is free.

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