Byzantine Things in the World
Crosses, Byzantine. Bronze and soapstone, heights 1–4 inches (2.5–10.2 cm).
The Menil Collection, Houston. Photo: Paul Hester
May 3, 2013–August 18, 2013
To the Christian faithful in the Eastern Roman Empire, works of art were not inert objects but earthly embodiments of a supernatural force, spiritually “alive” and capable of acting in the world. This belief in the literal efficacy of icons and relics has withered in the modern world—and yet many modern and contemporary artists have continued the tradition in their own way, evoking a sense that the materials they use are charged with inherent power.
Exploring this connection across the centuries, and bringing together a fascinating range of the museum’s renowned holdings, the Menil Collection will present the exhibition Byzantine Things in the World from May 3 through August 18, 2013. Featuring works that date from 1700 BCE to the present, but focusing especially on the Menil’s rich collection of Byzantine art (4th to 15th centuries CE), the exhibition will juxtapose more than one hundred and fifty remarkable objects, reawakening a sense of how people in late antiquity experienced art and bringing Byzantium’s golden aura into the era of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Yves Klein and David Novros.
Byzantine Things in the World is organized for the Menil Collection by guest curator Glenn Peers, Professor of Early Medieval and Byzantine Art at The University of Texas at Austin, with the support of Susan Sutton, curatorial assistant at the Menil Collection, and is accompanied by a related book with copious illustrations.
This exhibition is generously supported by David and Anne Kirkland; Louisa Stude Sarofim; Anne and Bill Stewart; Still Water Foundation; Baker Hughes Foundation; W.S. Bellows Construction Corporation and the City of Houston.