Collection Close-Up: Of Heaven and Earth

Nov 15, 2019 – Mar 15, 2020
Main Building

A thematic exploration of the Menil’s permanent collection, Collection Close-Up: Of Heaven and Earth surveys the representation of birds in the history of art since the third millennium BCE. Highlighting over forty works from the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas, as well as twentieth-century paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, the exhibition is a timely reflection on humankind’s enduring enchantment with these winged beings.

With their striking beauty, melodic song, and gift of flight, birds arguably embody Dominique de Menil’s conviction that the experience of art is transcendent, a mythological “marriage of heaven and earth.” Making connections between disparate cultures, geographies, and periods of art represented in the Menil’s permanent collection, Of Heaven and Earth centers birds and their representation as evocative agents for our understanding of the world and as mediators of the metaphysical distance between terrestrial and ethereal realms.

Collection Close-Up: Of Heaven and Earth is curated by Paul R. Davis, Curator of Collections.

Select Artists

Edward S. Curtis
Georges Braque
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Jean-Léon Gérôme
Joseph Cornell
Kenneth Price
Max Ernst
Philip Galle
René Magritte
Robert Rauschenberg
Victor Brauner