PaperCity Magazine

September 2017 - Houston

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Page 187 of 195

seen it. It was an enormous object — over 1,000 pages — and, for me, a very powerful moment: this book was really happening! Biggest revelations. Perhaps the biggest surprise for me is just how dedicated they were to making Houston a better place. They always maintained their apartment in Paris and they had a beautiful townhouse at 111 East 73rd in New York. And, yet, they concentrated their activities on Texas. In the fall of 1950, only several years after they had begun collecting in earnest, the de Menils began organizing their fi rst exhibition of art, at the Contemporary Arts Museum, housed in a very small, modernist building downtown. Dominique and John decided to do a show of Vincent van Gogh. They brought to Houston 21 perfect little paintings, watercolors, and drawings from every phase of the artist's life. During its three-week run in February 1951, the exhibition attracted over 14,000 visitors — far and away, the most exciting cultural manifestation ever seen in Houston. On the de Menil standard. They insisted that everything they did should be as good as anything in New York or London or Paris; that it should be measured by international standards. And they sought that level from that fi rst exhibition until the day Dominique de Menil died. The de Menils helped raise the intellectual and artistic standards of the city and the state. The untold romance. Another key discovery was fi nding out that the relationship between Dominique and John de Menil was a beautiful, sustained love story. From the moment they fi rst met, at a grand ball in Versailles in the spring of 1930, until the day he died, 43 years later, they shared an incredibly powerful, complex union. And, in the remaining decades of her life, she always insisted that she was only carrying forward the plans he had begun. Beyond the art world. The book touches on the history of French Protestants, what it means to be an Alsatian industrialist, the beginnings of Schlumberger Ltd., World War I, Paris between the wars, the fall of France during World War II, the European expatriate community in New York during the war, booming Houston, the Civil Rights struggle in the South and the international fi ght for human rights. Add in architecture and art, and you have quite a feast of subjects. How you made it to the fi nish line. One of the things that has kept me going over the years is my conviction that the de Menils were such extraordinary people, that they were completely committed to making the world a better and more interesting place, and that those are exactly the kind of people that we need to be reading about right now. (continued from page 127) Reviewing text with Hubert on a a George Nelson daybed. Philip Alter | 713.818.9538 | 7615 Bryonwood • Brykerwoods Estate PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE AT CRAFTHOUSTON.ORG OR CALL 713.529.4848 X.106 SPONSOR PACKAGES AVAILABLE MAD GLASSWARE • COSTUME CONTEST DJ FLASH GORDON PARKS • MARTINIS & MANHATTANS LITE ITALIAN FARE • MOD LOUNGE • DANCING PHOTO BOOTH • AND MUCH MORE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 7:00 - 11:00 PM HOUSTON CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY CRAFT 4848 MAIN STREET HOUSTON, TEXAS 77002 EXCLUSIVE MEDIA SPONSOR

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