Austin In Depth

CHAPTER 1: Introduction

Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin

“I hope visitors will experience Austin as a place of calm and light.”
“Go there and rest your eyes, rest your mind.”
–Ellsworth Kelly

Austin is the culmination of Ellsworth Kelly’s seven-decade career. It is the only building he ever designed, though his painting and sculpture were always integrally connected to architecture and space. In Austin, Kelly developed a structure in tandem with multiple artistic elements to create a unified aesthetic statement and an immersive environment. Though it has multiple components, each with their own history within his body of work, Kelly conceived Austin as an unchanging, holistic and integrated single work of art. In simplest terms, Austin is a place to experience the artist’s color, form and light and the harmonious beauty they create together. Because its interior light–defined by three striking stained glass windows–slowly but constantly changes with the intensity and angle of the sun, Austin is also a time-based work, one intimately attuned to nature. Kelly himself was constantly inspired by the natural world and was deeply aware of how perception can transform ordinary things into extraordinary–even spiritual–experiences, if we open ourselves to that possibility.


Gift of the artist and Jack Shear, with funding generously provided by Jeanne and Michael Klein, Judy and Charles Tate, the Scurlock Foundation, Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth, and the Longhorn Network. Additional funding provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, Leslie and Jack S. Blanton, Jr., Elizabeth and Peter Wareing, Sally and Tom Dunning, the Lowe Foundation, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, Stedman West Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, with further support provided by Sarah and Ernest Butler, Buena Vista Foundation, The Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder Foundation, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Janet and Wilson Allen, Judy and David Beck, Kelli and Eddy S. Blanton, Charles Butt, Mrs. Donald G. Fisher, Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman, Glenstone/Emily and Mitch Rales, Stephanie and David Goodman, Agnes Gund, Stacy and Joel Hock, Lora Reynolds and Quincy Lee, Helen and Chuck Schwab, Ellen and Steve Susman, and other donors.

IMAGE CREDIT: Ellsworth Kelly, Austin, 2015 (South façade), Artist-designed building with installation of colored glass windows, black and white marble panels, and redwood totem, 60 ft. x 73 ft. x 26 ft. 4 in. ©Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. Photo courtesy Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

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