Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin

After several years of construction, Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin is opening to the public this weekend. This white, free-standing building is next to the Blanton Museum of Art on the southern edge of the University of Texas campus. Artist Ellsworth Kelly had imagined this meditative space “as a place of calm and light.” Although Kelly died in 2015, the museum says that he was involved in the planning process for this project.

Austin officially opens to the public tomorrow, but Blanton members were invited to a sneak preview today. I arrived early, so I was in the first group to enter the building. The place was full of light, but it wasn’t very calm. Like everyone else, I was busy taking pictures of the windows and the large wooden beam that stands opposite the entrance doors.

Even though today’s skies were overcast, light streamed through the colorful windows and danced off the white walls and ceilings. Austin has three sets of windows: nine squares above the entrance doors,…

twelve more squares arranged in a circle,…

and twelve vertical windows in a sunburst pattern.

However, I wondered about the black-and-white squares on the walls. They seemed rather boring as compared to the windows.

Inside the main museum building, an accompanying exhibit called Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin explained everything. I learned that those black-and-white squares are abstract versions of the Catholic Stations of the Cross.

I also learned that Kelly experimented with different forms and materials for the upright wooden beam, which he called a “totem.”

The museum’s exhibit highlighted Kelly’s interest in color theory and his experiments with various combinations of shapes, mediums, and color combinations.

Austin opens to the public tomorrow and the Form into Spirit exhibit can be viewed through April 29. I’m looking forward to another visit once the crowds die down—which might be a while.

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