The Menil Collection
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Surreal Life
One of the largest and most critically lauded private art collections in the world, the Menil Collection is the brainchild of John and Dominique de Menil, who started collecting in the 1940s, and ended up with over 10,000 paintings—including many important treasures of the Surrealist movement. Artists on view at the collection's changing-but-permanent Surrealist exhibition space include Ernst, Magritte, Giacometti, Klee, Picabia, Joseph Cornell, and Dorothea Tanning; photography includes prints by Brassaï and Man Ray. A special delight is the collection's "Room of Wonders," which contains a "cabinet of curiosities" with exotic artifacts that inspired the Surrealists. The building housing the Menil Collection is also noteworthy, as the American debut by Renzo Piano. In the words of Dominique de Menil when she explained the impetus for the museum, "We are cluttered with images, and only abstract art can bring us to the threshold of the divine."
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