Ellsworth Kelly's 'Austin' – Austin, Texas - Atlas Obscura

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Ellsworth Kelly's 'Austin'

Blanton Museum of Art

This small stone building, the final work of a renowned artist, offers a peaceful environment with radiant, colorful glass windows . 

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This white stone building on the grounds of the University of Texas’s Blanton Museum was designed by the renowned artist Ellsworth Kelly. It is the only building the artist ever designed, and it is named for the location for which he designed it: Austin.

Kelly envisioned the 2,715-square-foot stone building as a place of “joy and contemplation.” The initial designs for the building were made in 1986, but after the project fell through it was shelved for more than 30 years. Eventually, Kelly gifted the design concept to the Blanton Museum. 

Much of Kelly’s work is characterized by precise shapes in bold, bright colors. Austin is no exception. A number of glass windows stained in bright colors punctuate the building’s white walls. As sunlight passes through them, it paints the inside of the chapel in luminous, living color. Inside, an 18-foot wood sculpture stands at the rear of the building. Fourteen black and white marble panels adorn the walls.

Construction on Austin began in 2015, just two months before Kelly’s death. He approved all the materials and the plan for construction, which took several years. The piece opened to the public in February 2018.

Know Before You Go

Entry included with museum admission ticket. Discounted parking at the parking garage next to the museum (Brazos Garage) when presenting your parking ticket to the admissions desk in the museum.

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