AUSTIN, TX.- The Blanton Museum of Art
at The University of Texas at Austin has completed its $23 million campaign for the construction and fabrication of Ellsworth Kelly's Austin, a monumental, freestanding structure that will open to the public on February 18.
This is a very important moment for the Blanton, our community, and for the arts in Austin, said Blanton Director Simone Wicha. We were able to realize this singular and monumental work of art for our communityand visitors from around the worldthanks to the donors who generously joined forces to help fund the creation of Ellsworth Kellys Austin. Passionate Longhorn alumni Jeanne and Mickey Klein, Judy and Charles Tate, and the Blanton family came together early in the project to provide visionary support. They were joined by David Booth and Suzanne Deal Booth of Austin, as well as UT alumni and Kelly collectors from coast to coast.
After Ellsworth Kelly gifted the building design to the Blanton in 2015, the museum began working to realize Austin, one of Ellsworth Kellys last works, and certainly one of his greatest. The 2,715-square-foot stone building has luminous glass windows on three façades. Inside are a wood totem sculpture and black-and-white marble panels featuring signature Kelly shapes.
Blanton Museum visitors will be able to enter the work, an experience akin to visiting the Rothko and Matisse chapels, in Houston and Vence, France, respectively. Kelly stated that he conceived the project without a religious program, and envisioned it as a site for joy and contemplation. It is the first and only freestanding building the artist designed.
"The opening of Austin further cements the Blanton as an international cultural destination," continued Simone Wicha. "The broad geographic support we received for this project is reflective of the audience we anticipate visiting Kelly's monumental achievement."
Austin will open alongside Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kellys Austin, a Blanton exhibition that will contextualize the museum's important new addition by telling its story in relation to Kelly's broader career. One section will explore Kelly's use of the color grid, for example. This motif can be seen in Austins front façade windows, and in Form into Spirits Spectrum IV (1967), a significant painting that will come to the Blanton from New Yorks Museum of Modern Art. Yet another section will explore Kelly's totems.
"This is an exhibition that will satisfy newcomers and Kelly aficionados alike," said Carter E. Foster, the Blantons Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and curator of the show. Kellys conceptual underpinnings for this work can be traced back to his time studying in France on the GI Bill from 1948 to 1954, a seminal part of his early life. The lasting influence of his experience there is evident in Austin.
Austin was made possible as a gift of the artist, with funding generously provided by Jeanne and Michael Klein, Judy and Charles Tate, the Scurlock Foundation, Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth, and the Longhorn Network. Additional funding provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, Leslie and Jack S. Blanton, Jr., Elizabeth and Peter Wareing, Sally and Tom Dunning, the Lowe Foundation, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, and Stedman West Foundation, with further support provided by Sarah and Ernest Butler, Buena Vista Foundation, The Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder Foundation, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Janet and Wilson Allen, Judy and David Beck, Kelli and Eddy S. Blanton, Charles Butt, Mrs. Donald G. Fisher, Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman, Glenstone/Emily and Mitch Rales, Stephanie and David Goodman, Agnes Gund, Stacy and Joel Hock, Lora Reynolds and Quincy Lee, Helen and Chuck Schwab, Ellen and Steve Susman, and other donors.
Form into Spirit is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art. Major funding for the exhibition is provided by the Ford Foundation. Generous funding also is provided by Jeanne and Michael Klein, the Scurlock Foundation Exhibition Endowment, the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, and Lora Reynolds and Quincy Lee.