The first and definitive biography of the celebrated collectors Dominique and John de Menil, who became one of the greatest cultural forces of the twentieth century through groundbreaking exhibits of art, artistic scholarship, the creation of innovative galleries and museums, and work with civil rights.
Dominique and John de Menil created an oasis of culture in their Philip Johnson-designed house with everyone from Marlene Dietrich and René Magritte to Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. In Houston, they built the Menil Collection, the Rothko Chapel, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, the Cy Twombly Gallery, and underwrote the Contemporary Arts Museum.
Now, with unprecedented access to family archives, William Middleton has written a sweeping biography of this unique couple. From their ancestors in Normandy and Alsace, to their own early years in France, and their travels in South America before settling in Houston. We see them introduced to the artists in Europe and America whose works they would collect, and we see how, by the 1960s, their collection had grown to include 17,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, rare books, and decorative objects.
And here is, as well, a vivid behind-the-scenes look at the art world of the twentieth century and the enormous influence the de Menils wielded through what they collected and built and through the causes they believed in.