The Menil Collection’s founders, John and Dominique de Menil, had an enduring interest in abstract art. Like their mentor Father Marie-Alain Couturier, they believed that if art no longer had to depict the world around them, it could offer a window to the sublime. “We are cluttered with images,” Mrs. de Menil once explained, “and only abstract art can bring us to the threshold of the divine.”
Although not all of the artists represented in the current installation were concerned about spirituality in their practice, the primacy of form, color, line, gesture, and light—the hallmarks of abstraction—are fundamental and offer unconventional ways for the viewer to see the world. The installation begins with works by Alexander Calder and Piet Mondrian that the de Menils collected in the mid-20th century and concludes with loans and recent acquisitions by Suzan Frecon, Theaster Gates, Mona Hatoum, and Roni Horn.