Spiral of the Galaxy

Submitted by Landmarks

0

Client: Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin

Location: Austin, TX, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $1,600,000

Project Team

Client

Andrée Bober

Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin

Client

Nisa Barger

Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin

Artist

Marc Quinn

Marc Quinn Studio

Industry Resource

Hansel Phelps

Hansel Phelps

Industry Resource

Sasaki Associates, Inc.

Public Art Agent

Mary Boone Gallery

Industry Resource

Vault Fine Art Services

Industry Resource

Silver Lining Art Conservation

Overview

Marc Quinn’s “Spiral of the Galaxy” is a massive bronze sculpture 131 x 196 x 100 inches anchoring the gateway to the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. Quinn modeled the sculpture after a shell from the British Natural History Museum, transforming the delicate object into a civic gesture with grand proportions. “Spiral of the Galaxy” is in the center of downtown Austin, positioned among a system of roads and buildings that frame cultivated green spaces. The sculpture’s organic forms juxtapose the urban landscape elegantly and its surface reflects the brilliant Texas sun.

Goals

"Spiral of the Galaxy" conveys ideas that are central to Marc Quinn’s work, including the unstable margins of life, the interconnectedness of life forms across time, and the prospect of living in harmony with nature. The conch also carries cultural and religious significance, and among many interpretations can be seen on the medical school campus as a complex structure that protects delicate organisms.

"Spiral of the Galaxy" is easily understood as a direct relative of the small shell it models. However, by dramatically altering the shell’s material, scale, and surroundings, the work acquires a mythical aspect, quivering between the real and the fantastical. Quinn has called seashells “the most perfect pre-existing sculptural ‘readymades’ in our natural world.” Thus, he refers not only to the graceful intricacy of their forms but also to the wonder of their natural production.

Process

Landmarks purchased "Spiral of the Galaxy" by Marc Quinn to anchor the gateway to the Dell Medical School. The conch carries cultural and religious significance, and among many interpretations can be seen here as a complex structure that protects delicate organisms.

Robin K. Williams, PhD candidate in art history at The University of Texas at Austin, contributed the artist essay, which provides greater detail about Quinn and his work.

This project would not have been possible without generous assistance from many including: Dean Clay Johnston and the Dell Medical School; Pat Clubb and University Operations; Dean Douglas Dempster and the College of Fine Arts; Bob Rawski and the Office of Facilities Planning and Construction and project manager Karel Kozeh; David Rea and the Office of Campus Planning and Facilities Management; the Campus Master Planning Committee; the Landmarks Advisory Committee; Hansel Phelps; Sasaki Associates, Inc.; Marc Quinn, Damian Simpson and the Marc Quinn Studio; Mary Boone Gallery; and Vault Fine Art Services.

Additional Information

The location and intention behind "Spiral of the Galaxy" marks a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin’s new Dell Medical School and Landmarks’ mission to provide meaningful art in public spaces. Not only does the sculpture represent a chief focal point of the medical campus, but serves as a strong symbol of the school’s goal to provide wellness and an organic approach to medicine to the Austin community.