Menil Collection: Cirque Surréaliste gala

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We were asked by The Menil Collection to create a visual identity for their 35th Anniversary gala event, Cirque Surréaliste.

Cirque Surréaliste was inspired by the French circuses of the early 20th century—spectacle, entertainment, and a source of endless inspiration for countless artists of the period. The Menil Collection also continued its tradition of drawing influence from its collection which includes one of the world’s most important holdings of Surrealist art.

For inspiration, we drew from the vibrancy of artists and designers of the time looking at chromolithographic posters for the Parisian circus, nightclubs, and jazz reviews; as well as the architecture of The Menil Collection itself.

Our illustration for the invitation seeks to capture the drama of what awaits attendees inside, coupled with the promise of the unexpected.

Fig. 1 Main Building by Kevin Keim via The Menil Collection

Fig. 2 Isolated Mass/Circumflex (#2) by Michael Heizer. Installed at The Menil Colletion in 1978.

The Menil Collection Houston | Field of Study Branding & Design

The visual identity was adapted to a range of material: the invitation suite, admission style tickets for guests to locate their table, custom packaging for madeleine cookies to serve as event favors, photobooth watermarks, tableware, and caricature sheets for portraits the night of.


The Menil Collection Houston | Field of Study Branding & Design

Event photos by Daniel Ortiz