Outdoor Sculpture at the Menil

Visitors are invited to enjoy a number of works in the Menil’s parks and green spaces throughout the neighborhood. For more information, visit the Menil Park and Neighborhood page.

  • Jim Love, Jack, 1971

Houston-based artist Jim Love made a series of sculpture in varying sizes in the shape of a toy jack. The largest, ten-foot version greets visitors to the Menil as they approach the museum from the main parking lot. The exuberant red surface of the work reinforces the playful nature of the subject matter. The artist once remarked on the series, “I love the shape of jacks…Kids love playing with my jacks…Even adults can’t stay off them.” (Quoted in Douglas McAgy, one i at a time, Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1971, p. 25)

  • Mark di Suvero, Bygones, 1976

Reaching over twenty-five feet into the air and nearly thirty-two feet across, the Menil Collection’s Bygones (1976) has been installed in a park adjacent to the museum since its opening in 1987. Constructed of two steel girders and a rectangular steel plate, Bygones exemplifies the I-beam construction for which the artist became known. The diagonals of the three elements lend an energetic dynamism to the work, tempered by the stabilizing triangle formed at its base. Di Suvero left the surface of the steel unpainted; still bearing the stamps and scars of its manufacturing; it has grown yet rougher over the years through exposure to the elements. Dynamic yet poised, monumental in scale yet elegant in proportion, Bygones embodies di Suvero’s command of materials, engineering, and geometry. As Dominique de Menil herself noted in a letter of 1984, “Mark di Suvero’s Bygones is one of the great sculptures of its time.”

  • Michael Heizer, Isolated Mass/Circumflex (#2), Dissipate, and Rift, 1968/1978

A pioneer of Land Art, Michael Heizer (b. 1944) began creating immense earthworks in the 1960s. In 1968, for Nine Nevada Depressions, the artist dug nine large scale trenches into a dry Nevada lake bed, which were then left to erode away. Several of these designs were later re-created in weathering steel; Dissipate, Isolated Mass/Circumflex (#2), and Rift are three of the resulting works. Isolated Mass/Circumflex (#2) was sited and installed by the artist on the Menil Collection’s front lawn just before the museum’s opening in 1987. Heizer interrupted one of its sections with the central walkway in order to reinforce its identity as sculpture rather than a linear design element framed by the surrounding sidewalks. Dissipate, given to the museum by historic collector and gallerist Virginia Dwan in 1994, is based on the chance composition of dropped matches, and Rift, acquired by the Menil in 1999, is a line that sharply turns along its course. These latter sculptures were installed alongside Isolated Mass/Circumflex (#2) in 2008. In 2018, Dissipate and Rift were re-sited in a gravel courtyard designed by the artist, located east of the Menil Drawing Institute.

  • Max Neuhaus, Sound Figure, 2007

Entering the Menil Collection main building through its main entrance, visitors may become aware of a quiet yet distinct sound occupying the walkway about twenty feet in front of the door. This “sound shape” is a spatially contained, aural field by Max Neuhaus called Sound Figure. Following a career as a concert percussionist, Neuhaus began to use sound as a continuous material to engage the perception of physical space. Employing specialized software, Neuhaus could generate a range of sonorities, which he then chose from, combined, and blended in a way similar to a painter mixing colors on a palette. This work was commissioned by the Menil in 2006 for the space. Next time you visit, be sure to listen for Sound Figure as you approach the museum from Sul Ross Street.

  • Ellsworth Kelly, Menil Curve, 2015

Ellsworth Kelly’s Menil Curve, one of the artist’s last public sculptures, sits in front of the Menil Drawing Institute.