Blanton Museum and the Contemporary Austin Transfer More than 500 Works of Art to 17 Texas Museums


Last year the Contemporary Austin and the Blanton Museum of Art announced that 700 works of art from Contemporary’s permanent collection would be transferred to the Blanton, a move that solidified the Contemporary’s focus on collecting outdoor sculpture for its Marcus Sculpture Park.

Turns out, that was only the first phase of the greater distribution of the Contemporary’s legacy collection.

Today, the Blanton and the Contemporary announced that some 500 of the 700 artworks have now been transferred to 17 Texas art museums. The Blanton has formally acquired 200 pieces of the Contemporary’s legacy collection.

“As leaders in Austin’s vibrant and rapidly growing arts community, the Blanton and the Contemporary Austin are delighted to collaborate on this ambitious multi-phase project, which will impact the arts here in Austin and throughout Texas,” Simone Wicha, director of the Blanton, said in a statement.

In May of this year, representatives from Texas museums were invited to Austin for a “transfer event” to select artworks that were organized into lots and chosen based on a lottery pick system.

Texas State University’s The Wittliff Collection and the Texas State Galleries, for example, chose a large group of photographs by early 20th-century San Antonio photographer E.O. Goldbeck.

The Grace Museum in Abilene choose Margo Sawyer’s floor installation “Blue” and Ken Hale’s painting “Untitled (Blue painting with flower pot).” Both Sawyer and Hale are UT art faculty members.

Other institutions who received artworks are the Amarillo Museum of Art; Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont; Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi; International Museum of Art & Science, McAllen; Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, Kerrville; Longview Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock; Nancy Fyfe Cardozier Gallery, Odessa at The University of Texas Permian Basin; Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Spring; Regional Arts Center, Texarkana; San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts; Tyler Museum of Art; Visual Arts Gallery, Brownsville at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; and Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University.

Alex Katz, “Ada in a Hat” (1990), silkscreen in 14 colors on Arches paper, 35 x 44 1/2 x 1 inches (Collection of Wichita Falls Museum at Midwestern State University, Gift of the Blanton Museum of Art, 2018, Transfer from The Contemporary Austin, gift of Camille and Dave Lyons, 2010; image courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art)

Louis Grachos, executive director and CEO of the Contemporary Austin, said: “Further transferring select works to collecting institutions across the state will extend the legacy collection’s impact immeasurably, ensuring that the art works are properly cared for, studied, and enjoyed by thousands of visitors for many years.”

The Contemporary’s legacy collection was built in fits and starts over more than half a century by the Contemporary’s institutional predecessors — the Texas Fine Arts Association, Laguna Gloria Art Museum and the Austin Museum of Art. It has artwork in all media though works on paper comprise a majority. Texas and regional artists are heavily represented, though the collection does include national and international names such as Alexander Calder, Judy Chicago, Dorothy Hood, Alex Katz, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol.

In 2013, the Contemporary received a $9 million grant from the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation to the museum’s focus on developing its 12-acre Laguna Gloria site as a sculpture park.

The Contemporary will keep most of the legacy collection’s outdoor sculpture, some of which is displayed in City of Austin parks on longtime time loan. In December 2017, David Deming’s “Mystic Raven” went on view in Pease Park.

Related articles