teresita fernandez at the blanton museum


the jack s. blanton museum of art at the university of texas, austin has a first rate curatorial team, a terrific exhibition program and a very good collection.   it’s the largest university art museum in the u.s.,  housed in a new 155,000 square foot museum.  while nearly every museum built since (including) frank gehry’s 1997 guggenheim bilbao has focused on making a statement with the exterior architecture and the public interiors of the building at the expense of the galleries, the blanton, completed in 2006, is the exact opposite.     the gallery spaces are generally well-proportioned, logically laid out and not trashed-up with distracting architecture.   the atrium through which you enter, however, is the ugliest space i have ever seen in a museum.   referring to the architecture of the campus (first mistake), it’s a sadly unselfconscious post-modern train wreck.    something between gruppo 7’s italian fascist architecture and an upscale shopping mall.


“stacked waters” 2009 cast acrylic.

enter teresita fernandez, a brooklyn-based artist born in miami in 1968.   she designed a wall-covering of glossy cast acrylic laminate that wraps around the atrium.    bands of shimmering blue transform the space from something fit to be mussolini’s crypt into a place both calming and exciting.     it’s particularly a pleasure to walk up the “grand” staircase and feel as if you’re emerging from deep water into the light.


richard once called the floor to ceiling drapes in our house that camouflage horribly-proportioned windows an “architectural sin.”  but man, fernandez and the curatorial insight that led to this project salvage this building.