Monday, March 29, 2010

The Menil Collection

The major building, conceived by Renzo Piano hosts permanent and temporary collections.

Some time needs to be spent going through the permanent collection, the items displayed maybe small in quantity but are of great quality: arts from Africa, the Pacific Islands, Pacific Northwest Coast, classical Mediterranean civilizations, small sculptures from Eastern Turkey, the Cyclades Islands. I am not an expert but got some education visiting the "Musee de l'Homme" or Musee du Quai de Branly" and appreciated this area of the building. The visitor gets to travel, not only geographically, but also in time with the Byzantine and Medieval collections followed by Modern and Contemporary Art.

Each object (paintings, sculptures, artifacts) is well displayed like collections of masks or this panel "Thunder bird and whale" from the Pacific Northwest.

As the visit progresses, one meets Modern Art. The setting creates a space dedicated to each artist with a De Chirico room, Max Ernst room, Magritte room, etc...

Here and there, Maurizio Cattelan surprises the visitor.

The Surrealist movement is well represented with an added room full of diverse objects which have a common feature: they were inspirations to artists from that movement. The exhibit is titled "Witness of a Surrealist vision". The dark space and the cramped display makes us feel like discovering a long forgotten attic. This causes a visual overload which the Surrealists would have found conducive to creativity: associations, visual puns, oppositions, hidden art. A small catalogue is available for the visitor . I preferred to leave my eyes guide me through this rich collection.

A temporary exhibition "Leaps into the Void: Documents of Nouveau Realist Performance" is set up in an area where one can see the famous photograph from Yves Klein and a copy of the newspaper the artist had produced at the occasion with several sculptures from Yves Tanguy and Nikki de Saint-Phalle.

My only regret: one day was too short to visit the Menil Collection.

photograph from the Menil Collection's website

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