New on View
The Menil and the Dallas Museum of Art Join Forces to Acquire A Major Work by Maurizio Cattelan
The Menil and DMA have jointly acquired a major sculpture by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, one of the most significant and provocative artists to emerge since the 1990s.
The work, Untitled (2009), is both painting and sculpture, consisting of what looks to be an everyday push-broom pinning a canvas to a wall, distorting its surface. The work creates a nearly physical sense of discomfort for the viewer. While Cattelan draws on art historical precedents created by artists including Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, and Italian post–World War II masters, the DMA-Menil work is a quizzical and challenging object that is all his own and entirely contemporary. Its informed irreverence to tradition and its ability to challenge our understanding of art make it a strong addition to each museum’s collection.
The work, last seen in the Menil’s 2010 Cattelan exhibition, is currently on view in the Menil’s Surrealism galleries.
In Untitled (2009) the use of common objects echoes Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades and Robert Rauschenberg’s combines. The work also makes reference to postwar Italian artists Piero Manzoni, Lucio Fontana, and Alberto Burri, who wrapped, enfolded, and distorted various types of cloth and materials around the traditional rectangular structures of a painting. Unlike these time-honored approaches, however, Cattelan’s Untitled prompts a sense of physical dislocation and discomfort, as the broom handle pushes into the canvas, upsetting its smooth surface and then seeming to be abandoned. As such, the work is quintessential Cattelan, drawing upon art historical references while continuing to push the limits of contemporary aesthetics through a sense of visceral effrontery and absurdity.
Known for his quizzical, startling, and often disquieting sculptures and installations, Maurizio Cattelan creates work infused with comical yet deeply informed critiques of art, art history, politics, and contemporary life. Born in Padua, Italy, in 1960 and based in New York and Milan, Cattelan began his career as a furniture designer. His shift into artistic practice allowed Cattelan to better explore his interest in paradox, the meaning of transgression, and the limits and extremes of what is deemed acceptable. Constantly experimenting with new materials, strategies, and contexts, Cattelan creates objects that remain suspended between reality and fiction in a continuous tug of war between the tolerable and the outrageous.
Cattelan has exhibited at The Menil Collection (2010), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angles (2003), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2003), The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998), and the Tate Gallery, London (1999), and participated in the Venice Biennale in 1993, 1997, 1999, and 2002. He was a finalist for the Guggenheim's Hugo Boss prize in 2000, received an honorary degree in sociology from the University of Trento, Italy, in 2004, and was also awarded the Arnold-Bode prize from the Kunstverein Kassel, Germany, that same year.
A New Rothko Hanging at the Menil, in celebration of the Rothko Chapel's 40th anniversary
The Menil celebrates the Rothko Chapel’s fortieth anniversary with an installation of rarely exhibited canvases by Mark Rothko closely related to those the artist completed for the chapel.
The six paintings now displayed in the Menil’s modern and contemporary galleries (last shown at the Menil in 1996) are similar in size and composition to the fourteen chapel canvases. The series includes four panels sometimes referred to as “spare” or “alternate” chapel paintings. This new installation offers the opportunity to compare and contrast the paintings in the chapel with those in the museum, and to experience their power and beauty in vastly different environments.
In an adjoining room devoted to Rothko's contemporary Barnett Newman, "Be I" – a large field of deep red, bisected vertically by a thin white zip – is on display following a lengthy and painstaking treatment in the museum's conservation studio. The 1949 work, exhibited only twice before suffering severe damage a decade after its completion, is a 1986 gift to the Menil from the artist's widow, Annalee Newman.
Reinstallation of the Menil's Pacific Islands Galleries - the first since the museum opened in 1987
Arrowheads, daggers, and a group of clubs that resembles a flock of birds; a mortar resting upon the shoulders of an exquisite figure; a sleek curved bowl that would be at home among the most modern utensils; a towering water drum and other musical instruments; a feathered headdress; deities and amulets; headrests, pectorals, and pedestals. These objects of wood, stone, bone and ivory – from Polynesia, Melanesia, Fiji and other islands of Oceania – fill the Menil’s newly reinstalled Pacific Islands gallery.
In anticipation of the Menil’s first Pacific Islands exhibition, Ancestors of the Lake (on view May 6-August 28, 2011), this unveiling introduces visitors to works that have rarely been on view since the museum opened in 1987. Some objects are on view for the first time ever.
John and Dominique de Menil made their initial foray into this collecting area in 1932, with the purchase of two tapa cloths from Jacques Viot, a Frenchman who collected the works in northern New Guinea (some of which will be featured in Ancestors of the Lake).
The vast majority of the de Menils’ Pacific Islands collection, numbering more than two hundred works, was acquired in the 1950s and 1960s. Not only did the couple gravitate toward art of New Guinea during this period, but they also showed a special interest in Maori objects from New Zealand.
The Pacific Islands collection and gallery have been profoundly shaped by Adelaide de Menil and Edmund Carpenter, who have lived and worked in New Guinea. Many of the pieces in the newly installed gallery, as well as other works on view in the Menil’s “Witnesses” room in the Surrealism galleries, are gifts from the couple.