The Moody Plaza Petals (Courtesy of the Blanton Museum of Art)
The two halves of the Blanton Museum of Art have always divided, but the refurbishment of the connecting plaza between the two has finally added that sense of unity that Austin’s largest gallery has sorely missed. Under the shade of the giant metallic Petals (providing both shade and water protection), the revived Moody Patio and surrounding new landscaping by international design firm Snøhetta will host a grand celebration, with performances by Gina Chavez and the Peterson Brothers. However, the real draw remains the art inside the gallery. So if you’re there for the party, here are five memorable pieces that will show you the breadth and beauty of the collection.
Blanton Museum of Arts new grounds celebration: Sat., May 13, 2pm. Blanton Museum, 200 E. MLK. Parking at Brazos Garage, 210 E. MLK. blantonmuseum.org.
Autobiography: Japan (Mountain Reflection)
Howardena Pindell, 1982-83. Acrylic, punched and cut paper, and thread on cut and sewn unstretched canvas
The “Day Jobs” special exhibition explores the interface between the creative work of artists and the seemingly more mundane side hustles they use to keep body and soul together. None may be more pointed than former MOMA curator Pindell’s oddly wistful and humorous mixed-media piece, created using all the hole-punch detritus from her clerical duties.
First floor, “Day Jobs” special exhibition, through July 23
Portrait of a Gentleman
Portrait of a Gentleman
Simon Vouet, 1620. Oil on canvas
“How do these dead artists say anything about me?” Ah, the perennial refrain of anyone unwillingly dragged to a gallery. But the subject of Vouet’s study of a louche young man may say otherwise. Art historians may be fascinated by how Vouet introduced the Italian Baroque into the then-provincial French art scene: But Austinites may look at the gap-toothed and dissolute subject and easily envision him in a semi-ironic Taylor Swift T-shirt, swigging PBRs on an East Sixth patio. Plus ça change …
Second floor, European Art
Keith Edmier and Farrah Fawcett, 2001. Periwinkle blue crayons and sand
Under the watchful gaze of Andy Warhol’s 1980 portrait of era-defining sex symbol Fawcett, the UT art major has her own work in the Blanton collection: a collaboration with sculptor Edmier in which her footprints, cast in sand from Padre Island, are preserved in a giant shell, echoing Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and playfully deconstructing her public persona as the untouchable epitome of femininity.
Second floor, Modern & Contemporary Art
The Kelmscott Chaucer
Edward Chaucer, Edward Burne-Jones, and William Morris, 1896. Letterpress and woodcut
As the “Medieval x Modern” special exhibition shows, artists have long been fascinated by of the Middle Ages. That fascination was rarely more explicit than in the British Art and Crafts movement, and most especially in one of the most significant works of designer and publisher William Morris and artist Edward Burne-Jones: the Kelmscott Chaucer, a gorgeously illustrated edition of the complete Canterbury Tales, often described as the most beautiful book ever printed.
Second floor, Paper Vault, “Medieval x Modern” exhibition, through July 9
Missão/Missões [Mission/Missions] (How to Build Cathedrals)
Cildo Meireles, 1987. Coins, wafers, bones, stones, and cloth
Arguably the most stunning and impactful work in the whole Blanton collection, Brazilian artist Meireles forges a direct connection between Catholicism, colonialism, treasure, and death in this massive and contemplative installation.
Second floor, Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art