“When I see a white piece of paper,” the artist Ellsworth Kelly once remarked, “I feel like I've got to draw. And drawing, for me, is the beginning of everything."

In anticipation of the opening of the Menil Drawing Institute in October 2017, the museum presents The Beginning of Everything: Drawings from the Janie C. Lee, Louisa Stude Sarofim, and David Whitney Collections in the museum’s main building. The show highlights promised gifts from the collections of Janie C. Lee and Louisa Stude Sarofim, as well as works from David Whitney’s 2005 bequest. The works featured will continue to shape the core of the Menil's collection.

Through drawings spanning from the mid-19th to late 20th century, a range of narratives and art histories will emerge: the possibility of experimentation inherent to the medium; the role of drawing in artistic and art historical research; and the pleasure, joy, and challenge that drawing offers. As a form that transcends discipline—it is as valuable to the choreographer, composer, and archaeologist as it is to the architect and artist—drawing acts as a common language between creative cultures.

The Beginning of Everything celebrates the profound generosity of three trustees and patrons. Their leadership—matched by the Menil’s board of trustees—initiated planning for the Menil Drawing Institute, which has been a program of the Menil since 2008.