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Blanton Museum of Art Announces Groundbreaking for Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” and Organizes Symposium with Leading Kelly Scholars

The Blanton Museum of Art has announced that it will begin construction of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” in October. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 31, and the building is expected to open to the public in late 2016 or early 2017. 

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AUSTIN, Texas  The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin has announced that it will begin construction of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” in October. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 31, and the building is expected to open to the public in late 2016 or early 2017. In celebration, the Blanton on Oct. 31 will host a symposium on Kelly, with leading scholars and curators from across the country.

The project was announced in February, and the Blanton has received formal approval from the University of Texas System Board of Regents, clearing the way for construction to begin this fall. The 2,715-square-foot stone structure  the only building ever designed by Kelly  will include luminous colored glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture, and 14 black-and-white stone panels in marble, all designed by the artist. The work will be built on the Blanton’s grounds and, once realized, will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

“We are deeply grateful to UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves, former President Bill Powers and the university’s Board of Regents for their enthusiastic support of this project,” said Blanton Director Simone Wicha.

“We are also indebted to our visionary donors whose generosity will allow us to share Ellsworth Kelly’s vision for this site of calm and light. Above all, we are honored that Ellsworth has entrusted us with realizing this important project, which will become an unparalleled global arts destination and will undoubtedly transform the university and the city of Austin.” 

In conjunction with the groundbreaking, the Blanton will host a symposium at 1 p.m. on Oct. 31 with internationally recognized Kelly scholars Richard Shiff, the Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art at UT Austin; Tricia Y. Paik, curator of contemporary art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Carter Foster, the Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing at the Whitney Museum of American Art; and Gavin Delahunty, the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The event will take place at the Blanton and will be moderated by Veronica Roberts, the museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art, who is part of the team working to realize “Austin.” The program coincides with the publication of a major new monograph about Kelly produced by Phaidon Press. The book was created in close collaboration with the artist and is the first publication to cover his entire career, from the 1940s to today. It will highlight all of Kelly’s major works, including the Blanton’s “Austin.

In January, Kelly gifted the design concept for “Austin” to the Blanton, and the museum is actively fundraising for the campaign to construct and fabricate the artwork, support the redevelopment of the grounds surrounding the piece, and to build on the endowment for the operation, care and conservation of the work.

The Blanton currently holds a significant early canvas by Ellsworth Kelly, “High Yellow” (1960), a gift from novelist James A. Michener and his wife, Mari, and an untitled print gifted to the museum by Robert Rauschenberg. In celebration of the Blanton’s commitment to building Kelly’s “Austin,” David Booth has promised to the museum a recent painting by the artist, “Red Relief with White” (2007), further deepening the Blanton’s Kelly collection.