Sailing to Byzantium

New Menil Collection exhibition explores connections between Byzantine and modern art

By Michael Hardy May 3, 2013


Crucifixion of Christ (detail). Crete. 17th Century. The Menil Collection, Gift of George R. Bunker.

Image: Paul Hester

Byzantine Things in the World
May 3–Aug 18
The Menil Collection
1533 Sul Ross St
Houston, TX 77006

Byzantine art always held a special place in the hearts of Dominique and John de Menil, which is why the Menil Collection boasts one of the most outstanding Byzantine collections in the world. Now a new exhibition, Byzantine Things in the World, explores connections between the Menil’s Byzantine works and the rest of its collection. 

“In the last couple of years we’ve really renewed our commitment to Byzantine art,” said curatorial assistant Susan Sutton. “We’re trying to put Byzantine art in conversation with the other work in our collection. The real project of this exhibition is to make those connections, say, between Byzantine art and modern art—for instance, what are the connections between a Byzantine icon and a Donald Judd sculpture?”

Curated by Glenn Peers, Professor of Early Medieval and Byzantine Art at the University of Texas at Austin and a fellow at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies, the exhibition includes icons, reliquaries, pilgrim tokens, and other objects from the museum’s extensive collection. Juxtaposed with the Byzantine artifacts are modern and contemporary works by Yves Klein, Brice Marden, Robert Rauschenberg, and others. 

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