Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil

William Middleton. Knopf, $35 (800p) ISBN 978-0-375-41543-2
Journalist Middleton’s first book is an authoritative account of the lives and patronage of 20th-century art-world power-couple Dominique and John de Menil. Both were born in France, and they married in 1931 before moving, during WWII, to Houston, Tex., where Dominique’s father, Conrad Schlumberger, had made a fortune in oil. By the 1960s, the couple had amassed a muscular collection of Western and non-Western art, which, in 1987, became the holdings of the Menil Collection, housed in a museum designed by Renzo Piano. As Middleton dutifully shows, the couple’s commitment to art and philanthropy defined their lives. In addition to sponsoring projects that included the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Rothko Chapel and exhibition spaces on university campuses in Houston, they supported innumerable postwar artists. They were also keenly interested in human rights abroad and civil rights at home, and used their wealth to amplify minority voices by funding initiatives and exhibitions celebrating African-American art. In their travels, the couple consorted with Pope Paul VI and the Dalai Lama, among other world leaders, but Middleton emphasizes their disarming humility and humanity throughout. This exhaustively researched, satisfying slab of a book offers a thorough look into the lives and influence of an extraordinary couple. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2017
Release date: 03/27/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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