In October 2017, the Menil Drawing Institute will open its doors to the public as an unprecedented space dedicated to the exhibition, conservation, and study of modern and contemporary drawings. In understanding drawing as central to the lives of artists and crucial to artistic culture, this new building on the Menil campus will provide an intimate setting for the public to interact with the drawing collection, while allowing for an expansive commitment to interdisciplinary programming. The Drawing Institute is yet another chapter in the Menil’s sustained commitment to artists, Houston, and art as a common language.
To inaugurate the Drawing Institute's new building, the Menil Collection will present The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns. Structured to follow how both chronology and recurrence function in Johns’s practice, the exhibition spans the entirety of Johns’s career with works from 1954 to 2014 and is comprised of gifts promised to the Menil by Janie C. Lee and Louisa Stude Sarofim, works from the bequest of David Whitney, and select loans from the artist.
In anticipation of this remarkable new facility, The Beginning of Everything: Drawings from the Janie C. Lee, Louisa Stude Sarofim, and David Whitney Collections will be on view from February 24–June 18, 2017. With works spanning from the mid-19th to late 20th century, the exhibition will explore a range of narratives and art histories from the possibility of experimentation inherent to the medium to the role of drawing in artistic and art historical research. The Beginning of Everything will present promised gifts from the collections of Janie C. Lee and Louisa Stude Sarofim, as well as works from David Whitney’s 2005 bequest in celebration of the profound generosity of these three trustees and patrons.
In recognition that the Menil’s artist-centered environment and growing collection of works on paper offered a singular opportunity, the Menil Drawing Institute was established in 2008. Since then, the MDI has developed a national profile for exhibitions, scholarship, and collaboration. The important travelling exhibitions Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective (2012) and Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds (2014), as well as the multiple-volume catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Jasper Johns have all been organized under the auspices of the Drawing Institute..