Menil Drawing Institute
In February 2008 the Menil Collection established the Menil Drawing Institute, dedicated solely to the collection, exhibition, and study of modernist drawing, including the medium’s role in contemporary artistic practice. The Menil Drawing Institute will build a collection of works representative of the practice of drawing in closely focused areas of Modern and Contemporary art, especially from the mid-twentieth century to our time.
From the beginning drawings have been a key, if quiet, part of the Menil—it can be said that the collection was launched with the acquisition of one, the Cézanne watercolor that John de Menil brought home from a business trip to New York in 1945. The modest purchase was soon followed with works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters, and René Magritte. Over the years John and Dominique de Menil’s interest in drawing grew as they continued to collect twentieth-century drawings in all media, including pencil, pen and ink, watercolor, and gouache, and on varying supports. These holdings now exceed 1,200 in number and in recent years the Menil has continued to expand this part of its permanent collection, with work by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly, Michael Heizer, and Robert Gober.
The collection will be housed in a separate facility on the Menil campus, built to meet the specific requirements of the drawings and works on paper that are the prime objects of study, with spaces devoted to exhibition, study, conservation, archives, and storage. The mission of the Drawing Institute is to make modernist drawing—as a discipline involved in the innovation of artistic forms—accessible to the general public, while attracting scholars and students in the many branches of modernist studies.