The house in the mid-60s, showing some of James' plush touches.
Throughout their lifetime, Dominique de Menil and her husband John amassed one of the world's finest private collections of 20th-century art, which later became Houston's Menil Collection. But in 1948, they were just a young couple looking to build a home for their growing family. They commissioned architect Philip Johnson, then a relative unknown, to design a modern home for them alongside the staid mansions of Houston's tony River Oaks.
The brick-and-glass house that Johnson designed for them was a little shocking for 1948, and especially for Houston, as was their choice of New York fashion designer Charles James as interior decorator. His lavish sensibility infused a little warmth and color into Johnson's elegantly austere interiors, forming the perfect backdrop for the de Menils' collection of eclectic art.
Today, of course, most of that art has found a home at the Menil Collection, the museum designed by Renzo Piano to house the Menils' extensive collection and make it accessible to the public. (The museum, according to Dominique's wishes, is and always has been free.) In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Menil Collection, Lonny Magazine published a tour of the couple's home and of the museum itself. You can find it all in the current issue of Lonny, including more on the history of the Menils and the museum.
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(Images: 1&3. Lonny, 2. Balthazar Korab via Lonny)