The Codicil To John de Menil's Will

In 2005, Robert Gober curated a show at the Menil Collection in Houston. In his catalogue, Robert Gober Sculptures and Installations, 1979-2007," for the Schaulager show, Gober says, "Initially, I was only interested in curating from the collection and not including my own work, but when I began investigating the contents and the storage of the Menil Collection, I saw what [then chief curator] Matthew Drutt was already seeing. My work and the work in the collection shared affinities and themes. Catholicism, Surrealism, race, and a belief in the everyday object."

The exhibition's title, "The Meat Wagon," comes from a codicil to John de Menil's will. It's awesome.

To my Executor
c/o Pierre M. Schumberger

I am a religions man deep at heart, in spite of appearances. I want to be buried as a catholic, with gaiety and seriousness.

I want the mass and last rites to be by Father Moubarac, because he is a highly spiritual man. Within what is permissible by catholic rules, and within the discretion of Moubarac, I want whoever feels so inclined to receive communion.

I want to be buried in wood, like the jews. The cheapest wood will be good enough. Any wood will do. I want a green pall, as we had for Jerry MacAgy. I would prefer a pickup or a flat bed truck to the conventional hearse.

I want the service to be held at my parish, St. Annes, not at The Rothko Chapel, because it would set a bad precedent.

I want music. I would like Bob Dylan to perform, and if it isn't possible, any two or three electric guitars playing softly. I want them to play tunes of Bob Dylan, and to avoid misunderstanding, I have recorded suggestions on the enclosed tape. The first one, Ballad of Hollis Brown is evocative of the knell (nostalgic bell tolling). Then at some point Blowin' In The Wind, The Times They Are A-Changin' and WIth God On Our Side, because all my life I've been, mind and marrow, on the side of the underdog. Then Girl From The North Country to the rhythm of which the pall bearers would strut out of the church. Father Duploye could also be asked to sing Veni Creator in latin, to the soft accompaniment of a guitar.

I would like the funeral director to be Black.

I would like the pall bearers to be Ladislas Bugner, Francesco, Francois, Miles Glaser, Mickey Leland and Pete Schlumberger.

I would like George to stand with Dominique, Christophe, Adelaide, and Phil. Simone Swan, Helen Winkler, Jean Riboud, Ame Vennema, Rossellini and Howard Barnstone will be part of the family. Also Gladys Simmons and Emma Henderson.

I want no eulogy.

These details are not inspired by a pride, which would be rather vain, because I'll be a corpse for the meat wagon. I just want to show that faith can be alive.

Date: November December 13, 1972

/s/ John de Menil

The Rothko Chapel had only been dedicated in 1971. John de Menil died on June 1, 1973. His wife Dominique, who exerted a formative influence on my views of art in the times we met between 1990 and 1995, died in 1998.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

post info

first published: April 19, 2008.

next older post:
Rain Machine?

next newer post:
Waiting For Google

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99