A Modern Patronage: de Menil Gifts to American and European Museums

A Modern Patronage: de Menil Gifts to American and European Museums

Marcia Brennan, Alfred Pacquement, and Ann Temkin
9 1/2 × 11 inches
120 pages

Published 2007


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This publication examines a selection of works from the Menil Collection as well as significant donations that John and Dominique de Menil made to the Musée du quai Branly; Centre Georges Pompidou; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The de Menils began to acquire art in the early 1940s and proceeded in an intuitive and personal manner to gather “things in which we believe,” as John phrased it. Over time they developed an inspired collection that eventually found a permanent home at the Menil Collection. In addition to building their own holdings, however, the de Menils were committed to extending their vision to major museums in America and Europe, especially France. Works by such major 20th-century artists as Lee Bontecou, Max Ernst, Jean Tinguely, and Andy Warhol as well as an important group of African, Pacific Island, and pre-Columbian works are featured here and are accompanied by essays that explore the circumstances and relationships that inspired the de Menils’ collection and generosity.

About the Authors
Marcia Brennan is a professor of art history and religion at Rice University. She is the author of several books, including Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum (2010) and Flowering Light: Kabbalistic Mysticism and the Art of Elliot R. Wolfson (2009).

Alfred Pacquement served as the director of the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou until 2013 and has contributed to numerous publications.

Ann Temkin is chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her exhibitions at the museum include Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor (2014), Jasper Johns: Regrets (2014), and Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series (2013).