A cerulean moment from the 25th Anniversary Ball inspired by a shade of blue in a classic Yves Klein in the collection. (Photo Jenny Antill Clifton)
The first ever Menil ball honored founding director Walter Hopps. Hopps' buddy Dennis Hopper came in for the occasion and made remarks to the crowd. Shown, the late Hopper with ex wife, Victoria Hopper, and A-list painter David Salle. (Photo Phyllis Hand)
The late Dallas collector Betty Blake and Houston gallerist Hiram Butler at the first Menil ball, January 27, 2001. (Photo Phyllis Hand)
Pop painter Billy Al Bengston came in from the West Coast for 2001's gala that honored Walter Hopps. (Photo Phyllis Hand)
Nancy Allen and Marilyn Oshman admire a stack of Warhol Brillo boxes during the 2001 gala, the museum's first, which coincided with a major Pop U.K/U.S.A. survey. (Photo Phyllis Hand)
Project Row Houses founder Rick Lowe with Michon Bensen at the 2001 gala. (Photo Phyllis Hand)
The late Walter Hopps and wife, Caroline Huber at the 2001 gala. The iconic museum director and curator Hopps was honored with the creation of a biennial curatorial award in his honor. (Photo Phyllis Hand)
Max Ernst's "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year," 1955, is the mini masterpiece in The Menil Collection that gives inspiration to the museum's upcoming 30th Anniversary Ball. (© Artists Rights Society, New York / ADAGP, Paris)
Max Ernst's gift to the de Menils during Christmas 1955 is on view in the Surrealism galleries. This modestly sized treasure will become the subtle inspiration for the 30th Anniversary Ball to be realized by events planner Todd Fiscus.
Revelry at the 25th Anniversary Ball with Dorothee Helfenstein and then museum director husband Josef Helfenstein, and two of the five co-chairs, Franci Neely and Sara Dodd. (Photo Jenny Antill Clifton)
Lynn Wyatt makes an entrance at the Menil 25th Anniversary Ball. (Photo Jenny Antill Clifton)
A blow up of another mysterious artwork, Joseph Sacco's "Eye of a Young Woman (Oeil de jeune femme)," 1844, was used to nice effect at the Menil 25th Anniversary Ball. (Photo Jenny Antill Clifton)
Vogue's dapper Hamish Bowles jetted in for the museum's 25th gala held in 2012, which was billed as a Celebration in Blue in homage to an otherworldly Yves Klein in the collection. (Photo Jenny Antill Clifton)
It has happened just three times in 30 years. And now again, this December.
The jewel of the museum world, The Menil Collection, is throwing a ball to celebrate a milestone — a Surreal black-tie night to toast its first three decades and to support the ultimate legacy of the late Dominique and John de Menil.
This otherworldly evening is literally aligned with the stars: It takes place the night before the long moon, Saturday, December 2, honoring Louisa Stude Sarofim, the patroness, collector, and chairman of the board who steered the museum onward after her friend Dominique passed away in 1997.
Just in, these eagerly awaited details — The ball is titled Luminous, and be assured it will be, with chairs Allison Sarofim, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, and Menil daughter Adelaide de Menil; joined by honorary chairs, museum architect Renzo Piano — the Menil was Piano’s first ever commission in America — and French Ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud. And it has a special theme befitting this museum.
Returning to an idea realized by the 25th anniversary gala, a specific work of art will serve as leitmotif. Seeking to underscore the de Menils’ deep friendship with artists, the museum staff cast about for a fabled painting or sculpture that would embody that idea as well as shape the 30th Anniversary Ball.
Director Rebecca Rabinow suggested a walk through the museum might yield the answer. Voilà! There it was, amidst the vaunted Surrealism galleries: Max Ernst’s Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 1955, a diminutive oil on wood panel, a gift from the artist to the de Menils, Christmas 1955.
The painter’s mysterious Merry Christmas landscape will be the subtle inspiration for events planner Todd Fiscus to create a wintry mise en scène. After the chair sextet weigh in, and the details of Fiscus’ artistry are agreed upon, Jackson Hicks will plan a fitting menu of culinary mastery.
PaperCity again returns as media sponsor, and we were privileged to be a Surreal fly on the wall at an early planning meeting. Let’s just say you do not want to miss this, most especially a very special late-night viewing within the museum’s hallowed halls.
Luminous: The Menil’s 30th Anniversary Ball, Saturday, December 2; tickets from $2,500, tables from $25,000; for more info contact Menil events department, 713.535.3173, firstname.lastname@example.org.