Max Ernst – In the Garden of Nymph Ancolie


October 31, 2008-February 15, 2009

The Menil Collection

During the summer of 1934, German-born artist Max Ernst executed a mural for the Dancing Mascotte, the bar at Zürich’s Corso Theatre. One of the largest painted works of the artist’s seven-decade career, Pétales et jardin de la nymphe Ancolie (Petals and Garden of Nymph Ancolie) adorned a wall of the popular nightspot. Based on an illustration found in a Victorian-era botanical encyclopedia, the surrealist imagery features a dancing bird-like figure emerging from a lush backdrop of red and gold flower petals. Upon completion of the work, a writer for Neue Zurcher Zeitung observed: “Max Ernst has created a large fresco in the dancing area of the Corso … Lines, curves, ornaments intertwine in multifarious ways and in an absolutely planar style … It is an amusing, vivacious, cheerful ensemble…”

The newly restored work will form the centerpiece of the exhibition Max Ernst in the Garden of Nymph Ancolie, organized by the Museum Tinguely, Basel, and supplemented in Houston by the Menil Collection’s outstanding holdings of works by the artist. The only Ernst mural to have survived in its entirety, Pétales et jardin de la nymphe Ancolie stands today as an important example of the artist’s work between the World Wars — a celebration of Europe’s joie de vivre in an atmosphere of increasing political unrest and social hostility.

Co-curated by Menil director Josef Helfenstein with Menil assistant curator Clare Elliott, and Annja Müller-Alsbach, curator, Museum Tinguely, Basel, Max Ernst in the Garden of Nymph Ancolie will showcase the mural as an essential focal point of Ernst’s multifaceted body of work, while examining the artist’s complex oeuvre by concentrating on themes and techniques developed during the interwar period. The exhibition will also place the Zurich mural in the context of Ernst’s entire career, with special emphasis on work from the 1930s and 40s, years when he explored images of metamorphosis and nature’s irreconcilable conflicts with culture and technology.

The mural’s original nightclub environment took a toll on the work, which endured more than twenty years of raucous, smoky evenings — as well as the bar’s subsequent renovation. In the late 1950s the mural was cut from the wall, mounted on plywood panels, and relocated to Kunsthaus Zürich. After displaying the mural for nearly forty-five years, the museum undertook a joint effort with Basel’s Museum Tinguely to return Pétales et jardin de la nymphe Ancolie to its original condition. For the past year, the mural has been the focus of an intensive restoration project at the Museum Tinguely (on public view in a conservation lab), then at the Kunsthaus Zürich, where the work was completed.

Opening at the Menil on October 31, the exhibition (the first the Menil has devoted to Ernst in more than 15 years) will examine nearly 120 rarely seen paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. While many are drawn from the Menil’s extensive Ernst holdings, others are on loan from notable public and private collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Max Ernst Museum in Bruhl, members of the de Menil family, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

The mural will focus attention on the subjects Ernst conceived during his militant 1920s Dada period in Cologne and developed through his surrealist endeavors in Paris. Echoing many of the anxiety-ridden sentiments of the era, Ernst’s work continuously puts humankind, nature, and the mechanized world at odds, often juxtaposing soft natural forms with the harshness of the modern age. In Ernst’s 1935 series Jardin gobe-avion, for example, clusters of prehistoric vegetation consume airplane parts. In paintings such as Éloge de la liberté (In Praise of Freedom) and Forêt (Forest), thick jungles of tree trunks nearly block out the sky and leave barely enough room on the canvas for a small isolated bird.

Central to the exhibition’s narrative is Ernst’s technical acumen. One of the great innovators of modern art, Ernst delighted in manipulating meaning through formal experimentation and adaptation of traditional and new artistic practices. Among these experiments were the autonomist and chance-based methods, such as rubbing techniques (like frottage) that Ernst developed in the mid 1920s and would use until his death in 1976. Included in the exhibition will be one of the artist’s early publications, Histoire Naturelle (1926) — a series of 34 collotype prints after frottage drawings that transform elements of the natural world into otherworldly shapes and forms.

Given the Menil’s preeminent Ernst holdings – the result of a lifelong friendship between the artist and John and Dominque de Menil – the Houston museum is the ideal venue for the debut of the fully restored Pétales et jardin de la nymphe Ancolie. The de Menils met the artist for the first time, in Paris, in 1934 – the year Ernst completed the Zürich mural. That same year Ernst painted Portrait of Dominique, a work also included in the exhibition. The de Menils went on to host Ernst’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States (at Houston’s Contemporary Arts Association, 1952), a retrospective in Paris in 1971, and, two years later at Rice University, the exhibition Inside the Sight (the subject of the film, “Max Ernst Hanging,” being shown at the Menil during the entire run of the new exhibition). The de Menils also sponsored the ongoing (seven volume) catalogue raisonné of his work. In 1993, the Menil presented Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism, conceived and organized by William A. Camfield, who joins Josef Helfenstein in a public program at the Menil on January 13.

Said Helfenstein: “Shown along with some of the Menil’s most important works by Max Ernst, the unveiling of the newly restored mural constitutes an art event of historical significance. It also marks a particularly exciting moment for the Menil, and for Houston, where this artist has always held a special place. We are very pleased to be the only U.S. venue for this extraordinary exhibition.”

The Tournées Festival

University of Houston – Clear Lake

New French Films On Campus

October 23 – November 21



Friday, October 23, 2009, 8:00 pm
Bayou Theater


Francois Cluzet stars in this French thriller from director Guillaume Canet. Eight years after the heinous murder of his wife, doctor Alex Beck receives an ominous email from an unknown source. The message contains a video image of Alex’s thought-to-be dead wife in real time.





Sunday, October 25, 2009, 3:00 pm
Lecture Hall


True to its title, ROMAN DE GARE (CROSSED TRACKS) finds famed French director Claude Lelouch jumping between time and loyalties in this suspenseful mystery about fate and fatal secrets.





Sunday, November 8, 2009, 3:00 pm
Lecture Hall


On his fifteenth birthday a family friend tells Francois (Quentin Dubuis) a shattering truth – tying his family’s past to the Holocaust – that may enable him to develop his own sense of self. Until then, the secret had lain silent, known only to a few, including his mother Tania (Cecile De France), his father Maxime (Patrick Bruel) and lifelong family friend Louise (Julie Depradieu).



Saturday, November 14, 2009,7:00 pm
Lecture Hall

When Antoine offers to lend money to Claire, his best and only friend, he is far from imagining where his promise will lead him. Because Antoine doesn’t in fact have any money. At 30 years of age, he drifts from one dead-end job and disaster to the next. In order to keep his promise, he has no other choice than to agree to cover for his father, a travelling grocer, who is in a convalescent home recovering after a heart attack.




Saturday, November 21, 2009,7:00 pm
Lecture Hall


French director Laurent Cantet’s THE CLASS is an absorbing journey into a multicultural high school in Paris over the course of a school year. François Begaudeau–an actual teacher and the author upon whose work the film was based–is utterly convincing as François, an openminded teacher in charge of a classroom of youngsters from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Ticket Cost:  $3.75 general public.

Only the first event is free to UHCL students with ID

All films are in French with English subtitles.

Click HERE to see the map

MFAH French Short Film Festival

To get into the spirit of Bastille Day, here is a lively selection of new short films in all genres. Presented with generous support from the Consulate General of France in Houston and the Texas-French Alliance for the Arts. Special thanks to Cultural Attaché Dominique Chastres for organizing this program.


MFAH Films Fall 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 02:47PM

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro)

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m.


Directed by Marcel Camus

(Brazil/France/Italy, 1959, 107 min., subtitled)


This frenetic Latin melodrama, set during Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, is credited with bringing the bossa nova beat to North America. The plot was inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a couple so in love that Orpheus convinced Hades, god of the underworld, to return Eurydice to the land of the living after her death. The only condition Hades placed on the deal was that Orpheus could not look at Eurydice on the way up from the underworld. Here, the myth is retold as Orfeo (Breno Mello), a streetcar conductor grappling with death in the streets of Rio, falls for Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn), a provincial girl newly arrived in the city. Black Orpheus won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the award for best foreign film at both the Oscars and Golden Globes.

35 Shots of Rum (35 rhums)

Friday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 21, 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 22, 5:00 p.m.


Directed by Claire Denis

(France/Germany, 2008, 100 min., subtitled)

“Claire Denis has created a sensual and contemplative body of films over the years, but nothing in her work prepares us for this deeply emotional yet light-of-touch story set among a small circle of Parisians and their friends. In fact, Denis evokes nothing so much as Eric Rohmer in his “seasons” quartet as she follows the various characters in a roundelay of relationships that touches on almost every kind of love there is: father-daughter, old lovers, old colleagues, absent mother, lost sister, unrequited, one-night, budding, brooding . . . Lionel (Alex Descas), a train engineer, shares an apartment with his daughter Jo (Mati Diop), a university student. In the same building live taxi driver Gabrielle (Nicole Dogué) and a young man who comes and goes, Noe (the intense and always mysterious Grégoire Colin, like Descas a Denis regular). Together, they are a kind of family. We figure out their roles and relationships only gradually as Denis leaves crumbs along her narrative path for us to follow—it’s one of the great pleasures of this extraordinarily pleasurable film made up of small moments, of looks and silences, of magical touches of physicality and pensiveness. Agnés Godard’s cinematography richly limns an interior architecture in which objects take on an Ozu-like delicacy and immediacy, and uses train tracks (and cars and motorbikes and vans) to propel the story into the out of doors and eventually, the future, as father and daughter face the inevitable: her independence.” – San Francisco International Film Festival

“Marvelously profound, illuminating the love between a father and daughter but also highlighting the difficulty of relinquishing what most people spend a lifetime putting into place.” – Variety




French Short program I

Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 07:00PM


This program is composed of six shorts including:

First Journey (by Grégoire Sivan); Pencils (by Didier Barcelo); Make Yourself at Home (by Gautier About); In their Skin (by Arnaud Malherbe); 12:17 a.m. (by Xavier de Choudens); and 200,000 Phantoms (by Jean-Gabriel Périot)

MFAH website


French Short Program II

Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 07:00PM

“Toi que j’eusse aimée”

Six more shorts complete the program including:

Skhizein (by Jérémy Clapin); Manon on the Asphalt (by Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont); In the Train (by Emilie Sengelin); Edward in Wonderland (by Vincent Burgevin and Franck Lebon); You Whom I Would Have Loved (by Emmanuel Broussouloux); and St. Feast Day (by Anne-Laure Daffis and Léo Marchand).

Pierre Bensuan in Houston


TFAA is happy to promote French guitarist: Pierre Bensusan

Saturday, October 3rd

Show: 9pm  Doors open at: 8:30pm

Tickets:  $30 cash only at the door

$25.00 in advance online:

Location: ListeningRoom at NiaMoves, 508 Pecore, Houston, TX  77009


“One of the most unique and brilliant acoustic guitar veterans in what might most accurately be described as the world music scene today.”  The Los Angeles Times

“There is only a handful of guitar players who have taken the sound of John Fahey, Leo Kottke, and Bert Jansch to another level. Michael Hedges was one. Pierre is another.” John Diliberto,

click here to see the flyer

click here to see bio and press info

The Houston ballet presents “Manon”

Houston Ballet presents Manon. Music by Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912). Orchestrated and arranged by Leighton Lucas, with the collaboration of Hilda Gaunt. Choreography: Sir Kenneth MacMillan.

A modern classic, Manon charts the romantic adventures of an irresistibly beautiful femme fatale and her one true love, the impoverished student Des Grieux, from the demi monde of Paris to the bayous of Louisiana. Sir Kenneth has created a brilliant dance drama that explores the relationship between love, sex, and the corrupting power of money. The passion and danger of Manon’s central pas de deux have proven irresistible to audiences around the world, and have made it one of the most popular full-length ballets of the second half of the twentieth century.

Men will do anything to have her, and Manon will do anything for love. Or is it power she craves? Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s exquisite ballet charts the tale of a beautiful young girl, her penniless lover, and the ambition that is her downfall. This seductive, full-length production is highlighted by passion and accented with danger. One of the great narrative ballets of the late 20th century, this epic story provides dancer with a spectacular showcase for their theatrical gifts.

Age Recommendation: at least 12 years of age.


WHEN: At 7:30 pm on September 10, 12, 18, 19, 2009

At 2:00 pm on September 13, 20, 2009


WHERE: Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center

501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston


TICKETS: Call (713) 227 ARTS or 1 800 828 ARTS

Tickets are also available at

and the Houston Ballet Box Office: Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue (at Smith Street).

Use the promotion code TFAA to receive a 25% discount on your Manon tickets

Click here to purchase tickets for Manon

Click here for the Manon press release


Pictured: Dancer(s): Amy Fote and Simon Ball. Photo by: Pam Francis.

Bernar Venet Monumental Sculpture

Project Description

Long known as a vital national art community, Houston has an opportunity to establish itself in the international art scene. Beginning in the winter of 2009, Houston will host a monumental sculpture exhibition by the internationally recognized artist, Bernar Venet. TFAA is participating in the development of the project and the promotion of Bernar Venet’s art.

In conjunction with Bernar Venet’s local agent we would like to place ten monumental outdoor steel sculptures in Hermann Park. Its central location within Houston has both vehicular and pedestrian access, and open land expanses for long vista views of artwork. This unique accessibility guaranties an outstanding exposure over a duration of nine months. Enclosed you may find a map with suggested locations for the sculptures in Hermann Park. The finalized spots would only be made with the cooperation and input of Hermann Park Directors and the artist, Bernar Venet.

Similar Bernar Venet monumental sculpture exhibitions have been celebrated in over 20 cities worldwide (New York, Chicago, Denver, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Brussels, Paris and more). His work has been acquired by the most notable international museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The National Gallery and Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. The timing for receiving a Houston exhibition could not be better.

In 2008, Bernar Venet received international attention by Sotheby’s sponsor: a Private Sale Retrospective, on the grounds of Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Windermere, Florida. The Houston Venet exhibition will follow on the heels of this Retrospective and a smaller city-wide exhibition in San Diego, California. The third quarter of 2009 is the earliest Venet’s sculptures can be made available for a Houston exhibition of monumental works.

Without question, our city leads internationally in many areas – oil technology, shipping and aerospace. Houston is also vibrant in many of the arts – performance, symphony, opera, theater, museums and non-profit art spaces. A critical piece to this civic fabric is internationally recognized public art for its citizens. Unlike the other arts, public art not only is an important piece of civic life but it also exudes prestige and pride to the world that is not accomplished in any other way.

The focus will be on the partners involved in this monumental exhibition as well as in Houston’s eminent and exciting future.

Visit the official website :

Bernar Venet installation at the MFAH, sculpture garden- click here

Click here to see an article about Bernar Venet’s exhibition in San Diego

This project is in part funded and supported by:

AXA Art Insurance Corporation

Becca Cason Thrash

Consulate General of France in Houston

City of Houston’s city’s Initiative program through the Houston Arts Alliance

City of Houston Park’s and Recreation Department

GDF SUEZ Energy North America

French Embassy

Hermann Park Conservancy

Richard Fant

Red Claw LLC



and Over 100 Private Donors

Bastille Day 2009


 A celebration organized by the French Consulate in Houston, the French-American Chamber of Commerce and TFAA.

Photos from the event, by photographer Anthony Rathbun

By invitation only

Date: On July 14, 2009 from 7 to 9 pm.

Location: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Caroline Wiess Law Building, 1001 Bissonet, Houston 77005.

Entertainment provided by the Young Sounds of Houston jazz band – University of Houston Downtown Civic Music Program. Soprano coloratura Cherize Lukow, from the Franco American Vocal Academy (FAVA) will sing La Marseillaise.

There will be a raffle with wonderful prizes such as:

  1. 2 tickets from Air France
  2. $200 gift card from Le Mistral
  3. $100 gift certificate from Jacques Dessange
  4. and many more great prices

Announcement will be made at 8pm. Must be present to win. $5 per raffle ticket.

Buffet of French delicacies, French wines and champagne.

This event has received the generous support from the following sponsors:

Total Holdings USA, CGG Veritas, Technip USA, Schlumberger, GDF SUEZ, Vallourec & Mannesmann Tubes, Spec’s, MFAH, Brasserie Max et Julie, FAVA, Riviera Graphics & Printing, Aroma Italiano Inc., Young Sounds of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown Civic Music Program.


The raffle is made possible with the support of:
Air France, Le Mistral, Jacques Dessange, Specs, MFAH, L’Occitane en Provence, Glazer’s, Mercury Baroque

Make Music Houston !

Fete de la musique


The General Consulate of France in Houston and the Texan French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA) would like to invite you to Make Music Houston (MMH) on Sunday, June 21st at the West Alabama IceHouse (1919 W Alabama St, Houston).

For its premiere, MMH is offering a dozen of free concerts of all musical persuasions – from blues to hard rock, and from jazz to pop.

This event is open to anyone who wants to take part, enjoyed by everyone who wants to attend.

Created by the French Ministry of Culture 25 years ago, “la Fete de la Musique” is aunique festival of free concerts in public spaces. Given the great success of this spontaneous event, this gathering of professionals and amateur musicians has spread to more than 320 cities around the world.

In the United-States, Miami and New York launched their annual celebration several years ago.

Rendez-vous at West Alabama IceHouse, a classic Texan icehouse. This open-air beer bar is a great place to hang out while listening to live music. Other pleasant diversions include a waterslide and a stall of French food.


One day, 14 bands !  From 2 pm , in order of appearance:

Dualidade – Latin Pop

Melissa Savcic – Acoustic Pop Rock

Flutes ensemble – Classical music

Orents Stirner – Experimental Rock

Bobby Mitchell – Country

Deborah Boily – French pop (Jacques Brel)

Hot Club de Houston: French Gypsy Jazz

Geezus Rodreegus – Soul

Funky Mustard – Jazz, Rock, Fusion

Andrea Chase – Blues, Jazz, RnB
Unappreciated – Punk Alternative
Hidden Agenda – Soft Pop
The Blue Lefan – Pop Variety
The Liquid Kitchen – Rock


Visit more information.



Mercury Baroque Armide

May 15 and May 16, 2009 at 8 p.m
Pre-concert lecture given at 7:15 p.m.

Cullen Theater, Wortham Center

Tickets for Armide are $20 – $52 (for discounted tickets use promotion code TFAA)

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 832-251-0706.

Armide – Isabelle Cals, Renaud – Zachary Wilder, Hidraot – Tyler Duncan – Phenice – Lauren Snoffer, Sidonie – Sarah Mesko, Haine – Beau Gibson

Pascal Rambert
, Stage Director and Production Designer

Antoine Plante
– Conductor

Albert Ledoux
– Choir Director

In collaboration with Texan-French Allliance for the Arts


Worlds collide and cultures clash as French stage director Pascal Rambert joins Mercury Baroque to revive Jean-Baptiste Lully’s opera Armide for its Houston debut May 15 and May 16, 2009 at 8 p.m., at the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater. A pre-concert lecture will be given at 7:15 p.m.

Armide, which some consider Lully’s finest work, first premiered at the Paris Opéra February 15, 1686. The opera was based on a popular epic poem brought to life by Lully and French dramatist and librettist Philippe Quinault. Unlike most of their operas, Armide is particularly compelling because it focuses on the emotional struggles of a single character, the sorceress Armide.

Originally set in Damascus, Armide falls in love with the French Crusader and valiant hero Renaud, her sworn enemy. The drama just begins.

Armide casts a love spell and Renaud is left powerless. Her spell backfires when she realizes that his love for her is insincere. The spell is finally broken when Renaud’s fellow knights find him, and he abandons Armide. Finally, Armide’s castle is overtaken by demons, and she narrowly escapes in a flying chariot. Armide’s internal conflict is at the forefront of a story entwined with heroism, villainy, war, unrequited love, sorcery, hate and duty.

For the Houston premiere of Armide, Mercury Baroque has enlisted French director and multi-disciplinary artist Pascal Rambert. Rambert is known for his striking stage pictures and original choreography. With his unique vision, Rambert will bring Lully’s masterpiece into a contemporary context.

Rambert discovered his love for the arts early in life. At 20, he began writing and directing his own plays and by age 22 he created his company Side One Posthume Théâtre. From 2004-2006, Rambert was an associate artist with the Scène Nationale d’Annecy. In January 2007, he was appointed Director of Théâtre de Gennevilliers, succeeding founder Bernard Sobel. His plays have been produced throughout Europe, the U.S. and Japan.

Under conductor Antoine Plante, Mercury Baroque lends its enchanting sound to the productions. In contrast to the contemporary staging, the ensemble performs on period instruments. The opera also features the gifted French soprano Isabelle Cals in the role of Armide and Mercury Baroque favorite Zachary Wilder as Renaud.

Mercury Baroque’s highly imaginative programming brings music to a variety of audiences and venues. The ensemble does not limit itself to concerts—it presents a fully staged opera such as Armide each season.

Mercury Baroque will perform a concert version Sunday, May 17at 2 p.m. at The University of Houston, Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, Texas 77058. For tickets to Sunday’s performance, call 281-283-2560.

For more information, please see the links below:

Interview on YouTube with Antoine Plante and Pascal Rambert

Article in France Inter

Interview with Pascal Rambert, in French and English

Beyrouth Texas

Poetry and Music by Antoine Boulad and Mike Owen


A l’occasion du passage à Houston du poète Antoine Boulad, nous pensons faire une lecture-recital poésie-musique. Cela aura lieu au Cezanne sur Montrose le mercredi 15 avril à 8h du soir. Mr Boulad declamera plusieurs extraits de ses oeuvres, et il sera accompagné par le talentueux pianiste de jazz Mike Owen (que vous pouvez consultez sur son site:

En bref M. Antoine Boulad est un nom dans la poésie libanaise francophone et a deja publié de nombreux recueils, dont “Le Passeur,” “Les Distances Magnétiques,” “Les Brindilles de la Memoire,” chez L’Harmattan, “Le Journal de la Guerre,” “Ruede Damas” chez Saqi. Il a fait plusieurs recitals de Poésie, dont deux à Montréal et à Quebec City , et a été invité au Festival de Poésie de Lodeve “Voix de la Méditerrannée.”

Il est directeur du français à L’IC (international college) de Beyrouth et est resposable de la page Poésie dans “L’Orient Littéraire” du quotidien L’orient-Le Jour, et puis il est membre fondateur de Assabil (organisation des bibliothèques publiques du Liban).

Il n’y aura pas de droit d’entrée, seulement une consommation que Cezanne exige.