Blanton Museum completes $23 million campaign for Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Austin’

Ellsworth Kelly's "Austin" under construction. Behind it is the Blanton Museum of Art's main building.

The Blanton Museum of Art announced today that it’s completed its $23 million campaign for Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, a monumental, freestanding structure that will open to the public on Feb. 18.

Blanton Director Simone Wicha said that a number of donors were key in realizing the effort to bring Kelly’s work to Austin.

“Passionate (University of Texas) 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.”

In early 2015 the Blanton announced that Kelly had gifted the design concept for his first and only freestanding building. Honoring the artist’s tradition of naming particular works for the places for which they are destined, the structure is called “Austin.” It’s the first and only freestanding building that Kelly, who passed away in late 2016, designed.

Kelly worked on the design of the building for years before opting to situate it in Austin, once stating that he conceived of the project “without a religious program” and envisioned it as a site for joy and contemplation.

The 2,715-square-foot stone building has colored glass windows on three façades. Inside are a redwood totem and 14 black-and-white marble panels in typical Kelly shapes.

“Austin” is sited near the Blanton on the campus of the University of Texas.

In tandem with the opening of “Austin” the exhibit “Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin” will explore the conceptual origins of Kelly’s building began in a seminal period the artist spent in France (1948-54), when he immersed himself in the country’s artistic traditions and monuments. Organized by Blanton curator Carter Foster, the exhibit will feature rarely seen early paintings and drawings and will be complemented by loans from the Museum of Modern Art.

Renderings of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin.”
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