A Modern Patronage de Menil Gifts to American and European Museums Marcia Brennan, Alfred Pacquement, Ann Temkin

Publication date:
28 Jul 2007
The Menil Collection
120 pages: 305 x 229mm
21 b-w + 64 color illus.


A celebration of the internationally renowned collectors John and Dominique de Menil and their commitment to the modern museum

In the early 1940s, John and Dominique de Menil began to acquire art. Collecting in an intuitive and personal manner, the de Menils gathered “things in which we believe,” as John phrased it, and proceeded to develop an inspired collection that would eventually find a permanent home at The Menil Collection in Houston. In addition to building their own collection, the de Menils were committed to extending their vision to major museums in America and Europe. This beautifully illustrated book showcases some fifty works that the de Menils collected over the decades, including pieces by such major 20th-century artists as Lee Bontecou, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, René Magritte, Jackson Pollock, Jean Tinguely, and Andy Warhol as well as an important group of African, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian works. Published on the 20th anniversary of the founding of The Menil Collection, the book reproduces and examines works held in that museum and gifts in the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. To complete the volume, the contributing authors examine the circumstances that inspired the de Menils’ collection and generosity, the relationships they developed with legendary museum directors, and the gifts that were selected for each museum.

Marcia Brennan is associate professor of art history, Rice University, Houston. Alfred Pacquement is director of the Musée national d’art moderne, Centres Georges Pompidou, Paris. Ann Temkin is curator, department of paintings and sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and author of Barnett Newman (Yale).

"In this book . . . Brennan reveals how the de Menils helped transform Houston's sleepy fine arts museum into a national powerhouse. . . . The Menil Collection's now-glorious campus in Houston, centered on the elegant galleries designed by Renzo Piano, may be the de Menil's most tangible achievement, but the sterling example of connoisseurship and patronage they set is surely their more significant legacy."?Fine Art Connoisseur

"This handsomely produced volume serves as both an exhibition catalog for a show of objects collected by Dominique and John de Menil and a glimpse into their collecting habits. . . . These two collectors represent a unique moment in the history of collecting and museum development, and the catalog provides a rare, rich view of their spirit and imagination. Recommended."?Choice