Hyperreal: Gray Foy

Apr 21 – Sep 3, 2023
Menil Drawing Institute

Between the 1940s and 1970s, American artist Gray Foy (1922–2012) created a body of extraordinarily meticulous drawings, most often rendered in graphite on paper. This exhibition celebrates two recent gifts that have made the Menil Collection the foremost repository of Foy’s work. Intrigued by Surrealism and Magic Realism as a young artist, Foy characterized his artistic method as “hyper-realism.” His exacting technique—which required intense concentration and even months to complete a single drawing—rewards sustained looking. The exhibition spans the entirety of Foy’s career, from his early Surrealist compositions to his later inventive botanical and geological renderings. Also included are a selection of the artist’s commercial illustrations, which will be displayed publicly for the first time.

Hyperreal: Gray Foy is curated by Kirsten Marples, Curatorial Associate, Menil Drawing Institute.

This exhibition is generously supported by Sheila Noeth and Ted Dohmen; Barbara and Michael Gamson; Caroline Huber; Marley Lott; Curtis & Windham Architects; Nina and Michael Zilkha; and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

About the Artist

Gray Foy was born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in Los Angeles, California. During World War II, he began drawing during the evenings as an escape from the tedium of his day job at a military aircraft plant. After the war, Foy studied at Southern Methodist University in Dallas before moving to New York in 1947, where he continued his fine art studies at Columbia University. He soon was represented by Durlacher Brothers, and in 1961, he was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to advance his drawing practice. From the late 1940s to the ’60s, Foy also produced an impressive body of commercial work: magazine illustrations, book jackets, and record album covers.
“Hyperreal: Gray Foy” at the Menil Drawing Institute, Houston. Video: Jay Clark
Robert Cozzolino on The World Around Gray Foy. | The Menil Drawing Institute, Houston, TX. August 24, 2023.