Monday, April 14, 2014


Austin's primary art museum is actually part of the University of Texas system and is located on the university's campus.  The museum's facilities are relatively young, as is its art collection.  Here are some of the pieces that caught my attention.

First is a portion of a painting by Procaccini entitled, "The Visitation," c. 1602.

As is often the case, I found myself shooting only portions of many of the works, and that is true of the above shot, which was perhaps 20 times the size of this image.  But my feeling is that the overall work is often too large to give justice to the detail.  In this case I concentrated on the painting's key element--the supposed meeting between the expectant mothers, Mary and the much older mother of John the Baptist.

And here is a painting by Thomas Hart Benton, entitled "Romance," c. 1932.

I also liked the following piece by Reginald Marsh, called "Chatham Square."  The piece was done in 1931 and captures nicely, I think, the look and feel of the Depression era, of people who are making the most, at least emotionally, of a difficult time.  Again, this is a small portion of a much larger piece.

The following was a large piece by Mexican artist Siqueiros, entitled, appropriately, "George Gershwin in a Concert Hall," 1936.

Here is a small portion of the work.

Note the weird portrayal of the patrons behind the pianist.  I thought this was really quite an interesting work.

And then there were more abstract works, including a collection of thick, jagged chunks of slate that had been pieced together in a circle that was perhaps 25 feet across.  Unusual, but the overall effect had power.  It would have been impractical to attempt capturing the entire work, so I focused on a portion.  I took shots both on an oblique angle and from directly overhead.  I finally decided the oblique shots were more effective.

And, yes, the following, consisting of stacks of ceramic tiles, is actually a work of art.  At least it made an interesting abstract.

One of the more dramatic works consisted of four different components, a black gauze curtain that surrounded the entire work and that patrons were  invited to pass through, a large collection of cattle bones (yup, actual bones) hanging from the top, a string of communion wafers stretching from the center of the collection of bones to the floor, and a collection of thousands of pennies, all with the mint date of 2005, spread over the floor underneath the bones.  Here is a shot of the entire work.

And here is a shot of the bones.  The overhead lighting was critical to the overall effect.

Following is an airplane model that hung on one of the museum's wall.  It was relatively large, perhaps 6-8 feet across.  It helped that the model was randomly covered with metal butterflies.  Somehow, it worked.

One of the museum galleries was filled with various Greek and Roman statues, all of which were, oddly, replicas.  Later we understood why.  The gallery served as a space for budding artists to practice their skills.

But my favorite work/space in the museum was a large empty reception room off the museum's main entrance the walls of which were covered with tiles of subtly varying shades of light blue.  I took a large number of shots of the room in an attempt to capture the quality of the space.  In the end, I decided that the shots that incorporated the room's pillars worked best.

And, finally, the ceiling of this space consisted of accordion-shaped panels that included skylights that let in the light that was helping to flood the space.  Here are a couple of photos of the ceiling that I thought made interesting abstracts.

The Blanton museum needs to work on expanding and filling out its collection, but it has a great facility in which to do that.


1 comment:

  1. John, you amaze me at your photo work. I love the thick, jagged chunks of slate for some reason. You have taught me so much about pictures. You are very talented.