Gandhi’s last possessions. 1948. Photographer unknown. Courtesy, The Menil Collection
“Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence” is the first international project to explore the resonance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s (1867-1948) ethics of non-violence, or “satyagraha,” in the visual arts. This exhibition presents approximately 130 works spanning several centuries and includes paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, sculptures, rare books, and films by artists from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. The exhibition’s themes echo the expansive humanitarian concerns of the Menil Collection’s founders, John and Dominique de Menil. Among the diverse artworks and artifacts on display will be iconic photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson from the tumultuous time of India’s independence and partition in 1947, along with another group taken just before and immediately after Gandhi’s assassination in 1948. Portraits and documents of Gandhi’s most important predecessors and contemporaries (Ruskin, Thoreau, Tolstoy, Sojourner Truth), as well as his most eminent followers and leaders of significant movements of social and political reform in the last decades are included. The exhibition includes “The Red Handkerchief,” which is part of the permanent exhibition at Holocaust Museum Houston. At age 19, Yvonne’s mother, Maria Spronk-Hughes joined a resistance group in Amsterdam and performed acts of sabotage against the Nazis. At age 22, she was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a Nazi prison and then to the Vught concentration camp. In 1944, she was put on trial by the Nazis for sabotage. The book and artifact “The Red Handkerchief” is based on her life experience.The exhibition also includes an original letter from Albert Einstein thanking a Houston businessman for his efforts on behalf of Jewish refugees.