A thematic exploration of the Menil’s permanent collection, Of Heaven and Earth surveys the representation of birds in the history of art since the third millennium BCE. Highlighting over forty works from the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas, as well as twentieth-century paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, the exhibition is a timely reflection on humankind’s enduring enchantment with these winged beings.

With their striking beauty, melodic song, and gift of flight, birds arguably embody Dominique de Menil’s conviction that the experience of art is transcendent, a mythological “marriage of heaven and earth.” Making connections between disparate cultures, geographies, and periods of art represented in the Menil’s permanent collection, Of Heaven and Earth centers birds and their representation as evocative agents for our understanding of the world and as mediators of the metaphysical distance between terrestrial and ethereal realms.

Of Heaven and Earth is curated by Paul R. Davis, Curator of Collections.

Image: Victor Brauner 1903-1966, Bird Embracing a Woman (Oiseau embrassant une femme), 1953. Ceramic plate

The Menil Collection

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