The Blanton Museum on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin is well on its way to becoming a 5 Compass attraction. It’s near several other Austin attractions-of-note like the LBJ Presidential Library, the State Capitol Building, and the fine Bullock Texas State History Museum. Earlier this year Ruth and I went to this exploding city for SXSW and to see the new Ellsworth Kelly limestone and stained-glass secular chapel that’s part of the Blanton but outside. The first thing that impressed us inside was the grand staircase just passed its reception desk. When is a staircase a work of art all by itself? When it’s in the reception area of The Blanton Museum.
The Blanton’s temporary shows are on the 1st floor. Currently there are 5. The most interesting one to me is just there until 1/12/20 and is called “Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders”. The medieval mind was learning about the world, beginning to map it, fighting the bubonic plague, and creating scary monsters to decorate most maps and various religious works. As gaping visitors, Ruth & I could see one or more of the temporary shows or head up the beautiful staircase shown above that has Teresita Fernandez’s sculpture “Stacked Waters” somewhat incorporated into it. When we were there earlier this year, one of the temporary shows was called “Words/Matter”. Below is an example. This show is long gone.
Up those thrilling steps was the Blanton’s growing permanent collection. It has grown to more than 18,000 items, so what’s seen upstairs is just a sample. One of the Blanton’s chief focuses is contemporary and colonial Latin American art with holdings from Spain and Portugal featured.
A couple named the Hubers recently gifted the Blanton with 119 works of art from their Latin American treasures, and Galveston’s Moody Foundation gave the Blanton $20 million earlier this year to improve external spaces. Above are 2 of this museum’s Latin American acquisitions by artists I admire, Fernando Maze and David Siqeuros. Maza’s is triangular, Dali-like, and “Untitled” and Siqueros vividly depicted the Emperor Cuauhtemoc being tortured by explorer Hernán Cortés. Luis Jiménez’s sculpture below is called “Border Crossing”. It’s upstairs and has a very contemporary, news-feed feel.
All of this and the Kelly chapel outside make for an exciting museum experience worth going all the way to Austin for. While there, check out its new library too. Everything in this city, a genuine go go place, seems pretty new and exciting.