Expansive Loan Display Celebrates Blanton Museum’s 50th Anniversary

AUSTIN, TEXAS — The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin presents “Through the Eyes of Texas: Masterworks from Alumni Collections,” an exhibition of more than 150 extraordinary objects from the art collections of UT Austin alumni across the United States, through May 19.

Marking the occasion of the Blanton’s 50th anniversary, this special survey includes ancient Mayan vessels, tribal masks, Chinese jade, Renaissance paintings and Old Master prints and drawings, showcased alongside Modern and contemporary works by major artists such as Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ed Ruscha, Vija Celmins and Kehinde Wiley.

The exhibition tells the fascinating stories of these objects and their owners, as well as provide unique learning opportunities and a chance for visitors to experience significant works that span the history of art.

The unique nature of the exhibition enables the Blanton to display works outside the scope of its permanent collection — art and artifacts not normally on view in Austin. Among them are an Egyptian lion-headed goddess from 664–30 BEC, an ancient Chinese urn from the Liao dynasty and an eccentric Mayan flint from the late Classic period. This grouping, along with a selection of tribal masks loaned to the museum from several private collections, marks the Blanton’s first major presentation of ethnographic objects.

Other highlights include costume designs for the Ballets Russes, a Robert Rauschenberg “Jammer” from 1975 and a 1916–19 “Nympheas (Water Lilies)” by Claude Monet.

Spanning many periods, media and genres, the works in the exhibition allow viewers to make creative connections, explains exhibition curator Annette DiMeo Carlozzi. A Second Century Roman bust of a goddess, for example, is paired with a landmark work of contemporary art, Janine Antoni’s “Lick and Lather,” which features unusual portrait busts made of chocolate and soap.

Sculptor Petah Coyne’s “Daphne” provides a contemporary counterpart to Alfred Maurer’s “Woman in a Black Dress.” And the dense detail of large-scale photographs of Brazilian and Japanese jungles and forests by Thomas Struth conjures a different manner of seeing than the precise clarity of Henri Rousseau’s “Exotic Landscape with Tiger and Hunters.”

The exhibition also explores the stories behind the objects and the lives of the collectors who, after leaving the University of Texas, have gone on to significantly impact the art world in the United States and abroad. Among the lenders to the exhibition are UT alumni Jeanne and Michael Klein of Austin, Mary Winton Green of Chicago, Judy and Charles Tate of Houston, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky of Dallas and Darren Walker and David Beitzel of New York.

They — and the many others who have graciously shared their collections — support artists, strengthen arts advocacy and scholarship and steward important collections that, in many cases, will ultimately be gifted to cultural institutions across the county. Several collectors’ voices are heard through an audio-guide created for the exhibition, as are UT students and faculty responding to their experiences of this unprecedented assembly of works. An illustrated catalog accompanies the show.

The Blanton Museum of Art is at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and Congress Avenue. For information, 512-471-7324 or www.blantonmuseum.org.

John William Godward (English, 1861–1922), “Bellezza Pompeiana,” 1909, oil on canvas,  20 by 16 inches. Private collection, Houston. Photo courtesy Richard Green Gallery, London.

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