The quest for knowledge was central to museum founders John and Dominique de Menil’s collection, exhibition, and interpretation of art, and they personally commissioned two catalogues raisonné and began themselves the even more ambitious endeavor of The Image of the Black in Western Art in 1960. Rather than resulting in one book rather quickly as Dominique de Menil first thought, Image of the Black required research and production offices in both Paris and Houston, and the first volume wasn’t published until 1976 (in English and French editions). After four more volumes, the project was transferred to Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Center, which published enhanced editions as well as new volumes, and in 2014 the tenth book completed the project. It spans 5,000 years in almost 4,000 pages and with 2,200+ illustrations.
Compiling the catalogue raisonné of paintings by Rene Magritte (1898–1967) was first proposed by John de Menil, and in 1969 the British curator and art critic David Sylvester was entrusted with this task, which he completed with Sarah Whitworth. The five volumes came out—in English—between 1992 and 1997 (addendum 2012). Similarly, a German-language oeuvre katalog of the de Menil’s good friend Max Ernst (1891–1976), who is represented in the collection by more than 200 works, began to be published in 1976 with the graphic work and first volume of paintings; works up to 1969 have been published, so the catalogue is nearly complete.