PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Houston

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T he past 12 months h a v e s e e n T h e M e n i l C o l l e c t i o n commemorate its 30th year with a global gala edged with elegance and importance; shutter its acclaimed Renzo Piano building for restoration; and rethink and reinstall (as of late September) treasures from its permanent collection. Opened five weeks ago, the renewed galleries have been judged a success for their pure look at art across the stage of world history, highlighting the touchstones of founders Dominique and John de Menil's collecting. Works from the ancient world, Byzantium, Africa, Oceanic, and Northwest Coast are displayed alongside the modern and contemporary, including an extraordinary cache of Surrealism. This month, a long-anticipated bookend to the Menil's reopening brings fresh focus to the museum, both within our city, as well as nationally and internationally. The first new building on the vaunted campus in 20 years unveils, when the Menil Drawing Institute (MDI) opens to the public Saturday, November 3. Like the Menil mother ship and its orbiting entities (Cy Twombly Gallery, Byzantine Fresco Chapel, the Dan Flavin installation at Richmond Hall, and the space that birthed the campus, the Rothko Chapel), the new Menil Drawing Institute is free to the public. Originally scheduled to open in the fall of 2017, the Drawing Institute was delayed in part (a sage decision by Menil director Rebecca Rabinow) to allow the building's landscaping ample time to fill in, and its pendant park — a lush companion space of green acreage — to grow into its own. The extra months also gave the staff time to get acquainted with the new building, install its holdings without rushing, and curate its opening act. This is the first building in America to be solely devoted to the wide-ranging field of modern and contemporary drawing — its acquisition, exhibition, study, conservation, and storage. The plum commission went to a small boutique firm in Los Angeles, Johnston Marklee, led by principals Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. They were charged with bringing forth a structure in harmony with the Menil campus, the museum's storied history and aesthetics, and the founders' stance regarding humanistic stewardship and support of artists of their time. Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., based in Brooklyn and Cambridge, organized the green space, which thoughtfully dialogues with the MDI, including treescapes for the Drawing Institute's three courtyards and drifts of small trees that shade the one-acre swath of lawn that lies to the south of MDI, as part of a grand master plan set forth by David Chipperfield Architects. With its $40 million price tag and understated 30,000-square-feet footprint, the MDI embodies the restraint, beauty, and dignity of its surrounding campus while also being of our time, with a painted steel, glass, concrete, and cedar exterior. Johnston Marklee has created a custom collection of furniture for this buoyant, spare building, brought forth in collaboration with California designer Jeff Jamieson. While we await the official reveal of the MDI, one tough critic said, "This is an Agnes Martin of a building." Paired with its grand opening is another momentous occasion: an exhibit spanning 60 years of drawings across all media by the inimitable Jasper Johns. The calibrated, in-depth look at Johns, presented as the Menil Drawing Institute's inaugural exhibition, focuses on motifs by the octogenarian American master via 41 carefully chosen works. Its debut coincides with the release of the catalogue raisonné for Johns, an MDI-spearheaded project. Menil Drawing Institute Community Celebration, Saturday, November 3, 10 am to 4 pm; free and open to the public. "The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns," November 3, 2018 – January 27, 2019; DRAWING BY CATHERINE D. ANSPON. PHOTOGRAPHY RICHARD BARNES. CONCLUSIONS Menil Drawing Institute, unveiling Saturday, November 3

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