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Drawing Rooms

The philanthropy of one couple, Dominque and John de Menil, transformed forever Houston, Texas, into an international art center. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood of Houston, the Menil Collection was the brainchild of Mr. and Mrs. de Menil, who poured their sizable fortune into creating an impressive collection of artworks from around the world. Both of them had worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and they maintained a lifelong commitment to art and humanitarian causes. They believed their role was to create a space where art, spirituality, and social awareness could intermingle.

After her husband’s death in 1973, Dominique de Menil searched for an architect who could realize the couple’s vision for the Menil Collection. The Main Building, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano (known for his many museum commissions), opened in 1987, and echoed the design of the de Menil’s Houston home. The museum also includes the Menil Park, the Rothko & Byzantine Fresco Chapels, the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall, and the Menil Drawing Institute. These elegant modern buildings house some 17,000 pieces of art from ancient, modern, Non-Western and Western civilizations.

This summer two landmark exhibitions will show concurrently at the Menil Collection. Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw, Part II opens at the Menil Drawing Institute on June 7th and shows through September 1, 2019. From June 28th through October 19, 2019, The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning will show in the Main Building. Just as the Menil Drawing Institute and the Main Building echo each other, so does the brilliance of these two artists. Horn and Tanning grapple with themes such as identity and eroticism to remain unapologetically themselves. 


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This story appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of MILIEU.