The Blanton Museum of Art will announce Friday that it has acquired and will build Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin,” 2,715–square–foot stone building.
One of the most important figures of post-war American abstract art, Kelly originally conceived of the building in 1986 for a private collector. However the work was never realized. The artist has said it has always been his intention for it to exist in perpetuity in a public space.
The building — with luminous colored glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture and 14 black–and–white stone panels in marble — will be sited on the grounds of the Blanton on the University of Texas campus.
The 91-year-old Kelly gifted his design concept for the project to the Blanton.
“Austin is part of a journey that began nearly 70 years ago,” he said in a statement.
“In Boston in 1947, as an art student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, I discovered a 12th–century fresco in the museum’s collection that made a tremendous impression on me. Later, when I was living and working in Paris, I would put my bike on a train and visit early architectural sites all over France. I was intrigued by Romanesque and Byzantine art and architecture. While the simplicity and purity of these forms had a great influence on my art, I conceived this project without a religious program. I hope visitors will experience Austin as a place of calm and light.”
Construction is to begin after the Blanton raises $15 million.
To date $7 million has raised including $2 million each from Austin donors Jeanne and Michael Klein, and from Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth. The Blanton family has donated $3 million .
Beyond the $15 million project budget, UT President Bill Powers has committed $1 million to the project with funds coming from the earnings of University’s Longhorn Network.