Blanton Museum Redesign Goals to Elevate Its Profile

The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin is planning a $ 35 million campus redesign under the direction of Snohetta. Architectural and landscape improvements are being made on the 200,000 square meter site of the museum, including a dramatic biomorphic canopy that redefines the entrance area and a public wall assignment by the Cuban-American painter Carmen Herrera.

“It was sometimes difficult for people to find our front door and to identify us as they drove by,” said the director of the Blanton, Simone Wicha, who wants to improve the arrival feeling for the two buildings of the museum in the Spanish revival style, which blend in with the architectural overall picture of the university.

With more than $ 33 million, the museum will lay the foundation stone in February and the project is expected to complete in late 2022.

Snohetta designed 15 tall, flowering structures to bridge the terrace between the two buildings, giving the museum a more distinctive visual identity. These canopies rise on slender pillars and fan out to form broad petals. They form archways and provide shade over new seating. This ensemble will also take a one-way look at the Texas Capitol and Ellsworth Kelly’s non-non-national chapel, realized on the Blanton campus in 2018.

The Blanton invited Herrera, now 105 years old, to create a mural that is clearly visible through the arches of the facade of the gallery building – the first of several public works of art that he will commission. The museum aims to build on interest in Kelly’s Chapel, which Wicha said put the museum on the international art map and helped increase visitor numbers from around 135,000 to 200,000 a year before the pandemic broke out.

Herrera’s bold composition of 14 monumental green squares, each animated with four white diagonal spears that meet to define a smaller green square, is titled “Green How I” after a refrain in Federico García Lorca’s poem “Sleepwalking Ballad” Desire You Green ”.

“The opportunity to do something on such a large scale and in such an important place was very attractive, especially to the hidden architect in me,” wrote Herrera, who was trained as an architect in her 20s before leaving Cuba, in one E-mail. She noticed that the Blanton was a pioneer in collecting Latin American art.

Although she and Kelly were both in Paris from 1948 to 1954 and then in New York, they did not know each other. “I worked mostly in solitude for many years,” wrote Herrera, whose recognition in the art world has been achieved over the past two decades, including a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 2016. “I am proud to have been at this stage in my life our big-big projects are shown together at Blanton. “

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