PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston July_August 2021_rev

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 49 of 99

D ominique and John de Menil put our town on the international art map with the vaunted Menil Collection. This summer, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, proposes their successor as it pulls back the curtain on the collection of a man known foremost for his extraordinary patronage: Fayez S. Sarofim. The Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus at the MFAH is one of the most recent philanthropic marks that the Harvard Business-schooled money manager, who was born in Cairo in 1928, has made on his adopted hometown. The MFAH exhibition ("Three Centuries of American Art: Antiquities, European, and American Masterpieces — The Fayez S. Sarofim Collection") conveys the intellectual breadth, depth, and importance of this vast trove of treasures assembled over six decades by the courtly financier. A gentleman known in Houston society as The Sphinx for his inscrutable demeanor, Sarofim is compared by MFAH director Gary Tinterow to the seminal collectors of the past centuries in American art. In the exhibition catalog, Tinterow writes, "Overwhelming at first, the Sarofim collection slowly reveals its logic and consistency upon repeated viewing. In its scope, scale, and quality, it is almost unique, placing Mr. Sarofim in the rarified company of celebrated collectors devoted to historical American art, such as William Corcoran in the 19th century, Joseph Hirshhorn in the 20th century, or more recently, Alice Walton." Tinterow also points out that Sarofim was raised in a cultured, patrician Egyptian family — his maternal grandfather, the celebrated public figure Marcus Simaika Pasha, founded the Coptic Museum of Cairo devoted to early Christian artifacts and manuscripts — but did not begin collecting until he arrived in Texas. The exhibition also tells a unique Houston story, a narrative of a friendship that unfolded across more than half a century. Tinterow writes, "The gallerist Meredith J. Long [Meredith Long & Company, a bastion of American art, founded 1957] was central to the formation of Mr. Sarofim's collection … Mr. Sarofim's DAYS OF WINE AND SARGENTS THE SAROFIM COLLECTION OPENS AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON. By Catherine D. Anspon 32

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - PaperCity Houston July_August 2021_rev