Ellsworth Kelly: Austin

  • Co-published with the Blanton Museum of Art

    Hardcover / 10 x 14 inches
    113 images / 180 pages

  • Texts by Carter E. Foster and Simone J. Wicha

  • ISBN: 9781942185567
  • Trade Edition: $65.00


In January 2015, the renowned American artist Ellsworth Kelly gifted to the Blanton Museum of Art the design concept for his most monumental work, a 2,715-square-foot stone building with luminous colored glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture, and fourteen black-andwhite marble panels. Titled Austin, following the artist’s tradition of naming particular works after the places for which they are destined, the structure is the only building the artist designed. Envisioned by Kelly as a site for joy and contemplation, Austin is a cornerstone of the Blanton’s permanent collection and a new icon for the city in which it stands. This comprehensive book provides a thorough look at the project, from its inception to its current position as one of the artist’s most important and enduring works. An incisive, thorough essay by Carter E. Foster includes archival material, drawings, historic photographs, and nearly all related works Kelly created as he developed the building’s design. Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015) was born in Newburgh, New York, and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and suburban New Jersey. He joined the Army in 1943, later serving in the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion during World War II. After qualifying for tuition with a stipend under the G.I. Bill in 1946, he enrolled in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and then moved to Paris. While abroad, Kelly enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts, but mostly studied on his own while working several odd jobs. He sought out and met a number of significant artists, including Hans Arp, Alexander Calder, Constantin Brancusi, and John Cage. Kelly returned to the United States in 1954, and moved to a studio on Broad Street in Lower Manhattan, relocating a few years later to the neighborhood of Coenties Slip near fellow artists Agnes Martin, Robert Indiana, and Jack Youngerman. After fifteen years in New York City, he moved to Spencertown in upstate New York, setting up his studio in an old theater in the town of Chatham and then constructing a home studio in 1978. Kelly is best-known for his nuanced exploration of form, color and space in painting, sculpture, drawing and printmaking over a seven-decade career. Though much of his work is nominally abstract, it is deeply rooted in his love of nature and his close observation of the world around him. Kelly’s work has been widely collected by major museums around the world and he has been the subject of retrospective exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art (1973), the Stedelijk Museum (1979), the Whitney Museum of American Art (1982), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1996). Kelly’s achievements have been recognized by the Order of Arts and Letters in France, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and the Japan Arts Association. In 2013, he received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.


Carter E. Foster is the Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin. He has held curatorial positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He studied Art History at the University of Georgia and Brown University.