Ellsworth Kelly's Atheist Chapel in Texas

Ellsworth Kelly’s Atheist Chapel Finally Opens in Texas

Ellsworth Kelly's Atheist Chapel in Texas
Video screenshot
It is open to public viewing during museum hours

Artist Ellsworth Kelly's structural art dubbed “Austin” was made accessible to the public[/tweetit] on February 18. The secular chapel is located outside Blanton Museum of Art inside the University of Texas at Austin campus. According to Carter Foster, Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs, Blanton Museum of Art, the structure was originally commissioned by Douglas Kramer, a collector and celebrated television producer. Kramer wanted it to be installed in his California vineyard. A subsequent set of events forced this plan to be scuttled and the matter was put in cold storage.

Ellsworth Kelly’s Atheist Chapel Finally Opens in Texas[/tweetthis]

This continued for many years until Simone Wicha, the director of Blanton Museum of Art, noticed it and brought the complete matter to the UT leadership. The money to construct this art structure was then collected and it was built. The design was conceptualized and subsequently drawn up by the artist Kelly himself. He donated the design to Blanton in 2015. The project, as per the artist, was conceived sans any religious program. As per Blanton's press materials, he envisioned the secular structure as a site to contemplate and feel joy.

Austin has quickly gained global recognition and is on its way to becoming one of the important landmarks of the city. The stone building is pristine white on its outside and covers an area of 2,715 square feet. The building is characterized by geometrically shaped rainbow starbursts. The latter is visible to people both inside and outside the structure. Those who push open the door will be greeted with big wooden totem and marble panels in black and white. Both create a single piece which is undoubtedly Kelly's style.

Although the building gives hints of a chapel, it does not signify any specific religion and in fact Kelly refused financing from religious groups who wanted to construct and acquire the chapel for themselves.

Austin was built on campus through a $23 million campaign. Out of the total, materials and construction costs totted up $19 million. The remaining four million went to an endowment which will maintain the art piece. Money from this endowment will also be spent to study Kelly's other works as well. Visitors can enter Austin only after they purchase admission to the Blanton museum. Austin is a permanent addition to the Blanton collection and as such it will continue to remain on campus.

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