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Ellsworth Kelly

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Collection: 1923 Births, 20Th-Century American Artists, 20Th-Century American Painters, 20Th-Century American Sculptors, 21St-Century American Artists, 21St-Century American Painters, 21St-Century American Sculptors, Abstract Artists, Abstract Painters, American Abstract Artists, American Artists, American Contemporary Artists, American Painters, American Printmakers, American Sculptors, Chevaliers of the Légion D'Honneur, Contemporary Painters, Contemporary Sculptors, Living People, Minimalist Artists, Modern Sculptors, People from Newburgh, New York, Pratt Institute Alumni, Recipients of the Praemium Imperiale, United States National Medal of Arts Recipients
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Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly arrives at LACMA’s gala opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum on February 9, 2008 in Los Angeles
Born (1923-05-31) May 31, 1923
Newburgh, New York
Nationality American
Education Pratt Institute
École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Known for Painting, sculpture, printmaking
Awards Praemium Imperiale

Ellsworth Kelly (born May 31, 1923) is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker associated with hard-edge painting, Color Field painting and the minimalist school. His works demonstrate unassuming techniques emphasizing simplicity of form, similar to the work of John McLaughlin and Kenneth Noland. Kelly often employs bright colors. He lives and works in Spencertown, New York.


  • Childhood 1
  • Education 2
  • Military 3
  • Postwar education 4
  • Career 5
    • Painting 5.1
    • Lithographs and drawings 5.2
    • Sculpture 5.3
    • Style 5.4
    • Influences 5.5
    • Curating 5.6
  • Artworks (selection) 6
  • Exhibitions 7
    • Selected solo exhibitions 7.1
  • Public commissions 8
  • Collections 9
  • Recognition 10
  • Art market 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Kelly was born the second son of three to Allan Howe Kelly and Florence Bithens Kelly in Newburgh, New York, approximately 60 miles north of New York City.[1] His father was an insurance company executive of Scots-Irish and German descent. His mother was a former schoolteacher of Welsh and Pennsylvania-German stock. His family moved from Newburgh to New Jersey shortly after he was born. Kelly remembers his mother moving his family each year to a different house. They lived in many places in New Jersey both in and around the Hackensack area.

Many of Kelly’s memories are of the time they lived in Oradell, a town of nearly 7,500 people. His family lived near the Oradell Reservoir, where his paternal grandmother Rosenlieb introduced him to bird watching at the age of eight or nine. Bird watching helped Kelly train his eyes and develop his appreciation for the physical reality of the world by focusing on nature’s shapes. He developed his passion for form and color. As part of his interest, he studied the works of Louis Agassiz Fuertes and John James Audubon. Audubon had a particularly strong influence on Kelly’s work throughout his career. Author E.C. Goossen speculates that the two- and three-color paintings (such as Three Panels: Red Yellow Blue, I 1963) for which Kelly is so well-known can be traced to his bird watching and his study of the two- and three-color birds he saw so frequently at an early age. Kelly has said he was often alone as a young boy and became somewhat of a "loner". He had a slight stutter that persisted into his teenage years.[1]


Kelly attended public school, where art classes stressed materials and sought to develop the "artistic imagination". This curriculum was typical of the broader trend in schooling that had emerged from the Progressive education theories promulgated by the Columbia University Teacher's College, at which the American modernist painter Arthur Wesley Dow had taught.[1] Although his parents were reluctant to support Kelly's art training, a school teacher encouraged him to go further.[2] As his parents would pay only for technical training, Kelly studied first at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, which he attended from 1941 until he was inducted into the Army on New Year’s Day 1943.


Upon entering U.S military service in 1943 he requested to be assigned to the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion, which took many artists. He was inducted at Fort Dix, New Jersey and to Camp Hale, Colorado, where he trained with mountain ski troops. He had never skied before. Six to eight weeks later, he was transferred to Fort Meade, Maryland.[1] During World War II, he served with other artists and designers in a deception unit known as The Ghost Army. The Ghost soldiers used inflatable tanks, trucks, and other elements of subterfuge to mislead the Axis forces about the direction and disposition of Allied forces. He had a lot of exposure to military camouflage during the time he served and this became part of his basic art training.[1] Kelly served with the unit from 1943 until the end of the European phase of the war.

Postwar education

Kelly used the

  • Ellsworth Kelly at the Museum of Modern Art
  • Ellsworth Kelly in St Ives exhibition at Tate St Ives, UK, 2006
  • Ellsworth Kelly in "Blue Green Black Red: The Dallas Panels" on the north wall of the main lobby at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas
  • Biography from the Museum of Modern Art, includes selected images and bibliography
  • Biography from Guggenheim Museum includes selected works, and suggested reading list.
  • VernissageTV Interview with Ellsworth Kelly at the Art 39 Basel Fair.
  • Ellsworth Kelly in the National Gallery of Australia's Kenneth Tyler collection
  • Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall Barnes Foundation exhibition catalogue, 2013

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Goossen, E.C. Ellsworth Kelly, Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1973.
  2. ^ "MoMA". Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Collection Online". Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Cézanne and Beyond, February 26, 2009 – May 31, 2009 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.
  5. ^ Carol Vogel (January 20, 2012), "True to His Abstraction" New York Times.
  6. ^ a b "89-year-old Artist Ellsworth Kelly - W Magazine". W Magazine. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Coplans, John. Ellsworth Kelly, New York: H.N. Abrams, 1972.
  8. ^ Plante, Michael (1995). "Things to Cover Walls: Ellsworth Kelly’s Paris Paintings and the tradition of Mural Decoration," 9 (1). American Art. pp. 36–53. Retrieved 10 February 2008. 
  9. ^ a b Gwyneth Paltrow (October 13, 2011), Ellsworth Kelly Interview.
  10. ^ a b Karen Wright (August 2012), The Artist’s Studio: Ellsworth Kelly Vanity Fair.
  11. ^ a b c "MoMA". Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  12. ^ " Sixty Years at Full Intensity – Christoph Grunenberg interviews Ellsworth Kelly", TATE ETC.
  13. ^ a b Ellsworth Kelly Fondation Beyeler, Riehen.
  14. ^ Ellsworth Kelly: Relief Paintings, May 12 – June 29, 2001 Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
  15. ^ Ellsworth Kelly: Singular Forms 1966 – 2009, April 18 – June 8, 2013 Mnuchin Gallery, New York.
  16. ^ (1968)Green WhiteEllsworth Kelly Phillips de Pury & Company New York, Contemporary Art Part 1, 12 May 2011.
  17. ^ Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series, May 25 – September 8, 2013 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  18. ^ Ellsworth Kelly: Gray 1975 – 77, May 12 – August 17, 2001 Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
  19. ^ February 12 – April 16, 2011Reliefs 2009–2010,Ellsworth Kelly: , Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
  20. ^ Ellsworth Kelly: Plant Drawings, October 14 – November 28, 1992 Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
  21. ^ Kimberly Chou (May 25, 2012), An Abstract Master Puts on a Plant Show Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ a b Ellsworth Kelly: Plant Lithographs from the Artist’s Collection, 5 December 2008 – 7 February 2009 Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh.
  23. ^ Karen Rosenberg (June 7, 2012), Loving Flowers and Vines to Abstraction The New York Times.
  24. ^ April 23, 2010 – August 23, 2010Plants, Flowers and Fruits: Ellsworth Kelly Lithographs, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena.
  25. ^ a b c Ellsworth Kelly Kenneth Tyler Collection at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
  26. ^ – Ellsworth KellyGemini G.E.L.: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1966–1996 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  27. ^ Ellsworth Kelly Prints Created at Gemini Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles.
  28. ^ "Corn Stalk No. 9 : Ellsworth Kelly" (PDF). Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  29. ^ a b Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture, September 18, 2011 – March 4, 2012 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
  30. ^ Fondation Beyeler. "Ellsworth Kelly Works 1956 - 2002". Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  31. ^ a b (1987–1988)UntitledEllsworth Kelly, Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 14 November 2012, New York.
  32. ^ (2005)UntitledEllsworth Kelly: Getty Center.
  33. ^ a b c Sims, Patterson and Emily Raugh Pulitzer. Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture, New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1982.
  34. ^ William Rubin, “Ellsworth Kelly: The Big Form,” Art News, vol. 62, no.7 (November, 1963), p. 34.
  35. ^ Carol Vogel (October 16, 2014), Ellsworth Kelly At Work The New York Times.
  36. ^ Holland Cotter (February 1, 2015), When an Abstract Artist Falls in Love With Monet: ‘Monet/Kelly’ at Clark Art Institute, Ellsworth Kelly Falls for Monet The New York Times.
  37. ^ Suzanne Muchnich (January 2012), In the Abstract Los Angeles Times Magazine.
  38. ^ Jeffrey Kastner (May 4, 2003), Ellsworth Kelly's Journey, From All Angles The New York Times.
  39. ^ Biography: Ellsworth Kelly Guggenheim Museum.
  40. ^ Ellsworth Kelly / Paul Cézanne, 8 October 2008 – 1 February 2009 Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
  41. ^ David Rhodes (February 2012), [6] The Brooklyn Rail.
  42. ^ Carol Vogel (April 25, 2013), Galleries Celebrate Ellsworth Kelly at 90 The New York Times.
  43. ^ (1966)Wright CurveEllsworth Kelly, Guggenheim Collection.
  44. ^ The Meyerson Symphony Center Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
  45. ^ Carol Vogel (September 25, 1998), "Inside Art: Ellsworth Kelly On the Wall" The New York Times.
  46. ^ A Fusion of Art and Architecture, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts to Unveil Commissioned Works by Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Serra, October 1, 2001 Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis.
  47. ^ "Courtyard". The Phillips Collection. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  48. ^ Carol Vogel (April 16, 2009), Inside Art: The Art Institute of Chicago add more works by Ellsworth Kelly The New York Times.
  49. ^ Gareth Harris (April 28, 2014), Artists await call-up as new US Embassy in London arises The Art Newspaper.
  50. ^ Robin Pogrebin (February 5, 2015), Texas Museum to Build Ellsworth Kelly Design The New York Times.
  51. ^ Carol Vogel (May 14, 1999), Inside Art: Museum Lays In Vintage Kellys The New York Times.
  52. ^ Carol Vogel (October 17, 2003), New Hopes In Houston The New York Times
  53. ^ "KELLY, Ellsworth". Kenneth Tyler printmaking collection. = 
  54. ^ Remarks by the President in Presentation of the 2012 Medals of Arts and the Medals of Humanities White House, July 10, 2013.
  55. ^ Bard College Catalogue 2011–12, Honorary Degrees Bard College.
  56. ^ Commencement 2005: Honorary Degree Citation Williams College.
  57. ^ Carol Vogel (January 20, 2012), True to His Abstraction The New York Times.
  58. ^ (1982),Red CurveEllsworth Kelly, Christie's New York, Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, May 13, 2014
  59. ^ Colin Gleadell, Sotheby's Scores Its Highest-Ever $316M Contemporary Auction ARTnews, November 26, 2007.


In 2014, Kelly's painting Red Curve (1982) sold at auction for $4.5 million at Christie's New York.[58] That auction record for a work by Ellsworth Kelly was set by the 13-part painting Spectrum VI (1969), which sold for $5.2 million at Sotheby's New York, Contemporary Art Evening sale, November 14, 2007.[59]

Kelly is represented by Matthew Marks Gallery, New York and Los Angeles. The facade of Marks’s Los Angeles gallery, was inspired by Study for Black and White Panels, a collage he made while living in Paris in 1954, and a painting, Black Over White.[57] From 1964 he produced prints and editioned sculptures at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles and Tyler Graphics Ltd near New York City.

Art market

Kelly has also received numerous honorary degrees, among others from Bard College (1996), Annandale-on-Hudson, New York;[55] Royal College of Art, London (1997);[25] Harvard University, Cambridge (2003); and Williams College (2005).[56]


Kelly's work is in many public collections, including those of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and Tate Modern, London. In 1999, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced that it had bought 22 works, paintings, wall reliefs and sculptures, by Ellsworth Kelly. They have been valued at more than $20 million.[51] In 2003, the Menil Collection received Kelly's Tablet, 188 framed works on paper, including sketches, working drawings and collages.[52] Notable private collectors include, among others, Eli Broad and Gwyneth Paltrow.[9]


In 1986, Kelly conceived his first free-standing building for a private collector, but it was never realized. Only in 2015, the Blanton Museum of Art acquired his design for a 2,715-square-foot stone building, including 14 black-and-white marble panels and colored glass windows, to be built on the museum’s grounds at the University of Texas, Austin.[50]

Kelly's two-paneled Blue Black (2001), 28 feet tall and made of painted honeycomb aluminum, was commissioned for the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis,[46] and the large-scale bronze Untitled (2005) was commissioned specifically for the courtyard of the Phillips Collection.[47] In 2005, Kelly was commissioned with the only site-specific work for the Modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago by Renzo Piano. He created White Curve, the largest wall sculpture he has ever made, which is on display since 2009.[48] Kelly installed Berlin Totem, a 40 feet stainless-steel sculpture, in the courtyard of the Embassy of the United States, Berlin, in 2008.[49]

[45] 21 brilliantly colored aluminum panels installed in the central rotunda as a single work throughout the building.The Boston Panels,) in Boston he designed the Henry N. Cobb (designed by John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, Berlin, in 1998. For the Deutscher Bundestag for the Berlin panels, Washington, D.C., in 1993; and large-scale United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1993), a monumental sculpture commissioned by the Institute d'Art Contemporain, Nîmes, France; a two-part memorial for the Gaul [25], Switzerland;Vevey in Nestlé a 1989 sculpture for the headquarters of [44], Dallas;Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (1989) for the Dallas Panels (Blue Green Black Red), Barcelona; the Parc de la Creueta del Coll (1987), a sculpture for the Totem, in 1986; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, vertical bronze planes mounted on a tall concrete at the Houston Triptych building in Singapore; the Raffles City for the I. M. Pei in Chicago in 1981; a 1985 commission by Lincoln Park at Curve XXII (I Will) headquarters in Paris in 1969; UNESCO a mural for the [43] In 1957 Kelly was commissioned to produce a 65-foot-long wall sculpture for the Transportation Building at

Public commissions

Selected solo exhibitions

On the occasion of the artist's 90th birthday in 2013, the National Gallery of Art in Washington mounted an exhibition of his prints; the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia put together five sculptures in a show; the Phillips Collection in Washington exhibited his panel paintings; and the Museum of Modern Art opened a show of the “Chatham Series”.[42]

In 1993, the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris mounted the exhibition "Ellsworth Kelly: The French Years, 1948–54," based on the artist's relationship with the city, which travelled to the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; in 2008, the Musée d'Orsay honored Kelly with the exhibition "Correspondences: Paul Cézanne Ellsworth Kelly".[40] Haus der Kunst exhibited the first comprehensive retrospective of Kelly's black and white works in 2012.[41]

Kelly’s first retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1973. His work has since been recognized in numerous retrospective exhibitions, including a sculpture exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Haus der Kunst in Munich. Since then, solo exhibitions of Kelly’s work have been mounted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1998), Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge (1999), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1988/2002), Philadelphia Museum of Art (2007), and Museum of Modern Art in New York (2007).[39]

Kelly's first solo exhibition was held at the Galerie Arnaud, Paris, in 1951. His first solo show in New York was held at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1956. In 1957, he showed works in a group exhibition at the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles.[37] In 1959 he was included in the Museum of Modern Art's ground-breaking exhibition, Sixteen Americans.[38] Kelly was invited to show at the São Paulo Biennial in 1961. His work was later included in the documenta in 1964, 1968, 1977, 1992. A room of his paintings was included in the 2007 Venice Biennale.


Artworks (selection)

In 2014, Kelly organized a show of Matisse drawings at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley, Massachusetts.[35] In 2015, he curated "Monet/Kelly" at the Clark Art Institute.[36]


Kelly’s background in the military has been suggested as a source of the seriousness of his works.[1] While serving time in the army, Kelly was exposed to and influenced by the camouflage with which his specific battalion worked. This taught him about the use of form and shadow, as well as the construction and deconstruction of the visible. It was fundamental to his early education as an artist.[1] Ralph Coburn, a friend of Kelly’s from Boston, introduced him to the technique of automatic drawing while visiting in Paris. Kelly embraced this technique of making an image without looking at the sheet of paper. These techniques helped Kelly in loosening his drawing style and broadened his acceptance of what he believed to be art.[1] During his last year in Paris, Kelly was ill and also suffered depression; Sims thought that influenced his predominant use of black and white during that period.[33] Kelly’s admiration for Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are apparent in his work. He trained himself to view things in various ways and work in different mediums because of their inspiration.[7] Piet Mondrian influences the nonobjective forms he uses in both his paintings and sculptures.[7] Kelly was first influenced by the art and architecture of the Romanesque and Byzantine eras while he was studying in Paris.[7] His introduction to Surrealism and Neo-Plasticism influenced his work and caused him to test the abstraction of geometric forms.[7]


William Rubin noted that “Kelly’s development had been resolutely inner-directed: neither a reaction to Abstract Expressionism nor the outcome of a dialogue with his contemporaries.”[34] Many of his paintings consist of a single (usually bright) color, with some canvases being of irregular shape, sometimes called "shaped canvases." The quality of line seen in his paintings and in the form of his shaped canvases is very subtle, and implies perfection. This is demonstrated in his piece Block Island Study 1959.


Kelly creates his pieces using a succession of ideas on various forms. He may start with a drawing, enhance the drawing to create a print, take the print and create a freestanding piece, which is then made into a sculpture. Kelly’s sculptures are meant to be entirely simple and can be viewed quickly, often only in one glance. The viewer observes smooth, flat surfaces that are secluded from the space that surrounds them. This sense of flatness and minimalism makes it hard to tell the difference between the foreground and background.[33] Kelly's Blue Disc was included in the seminal 1966 exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York entitled, Primary Structures, alongside many much younger artists just beginning to work with minimal forms.

In 1973 Kelly began regularly making large-scale outdoor sculpture. Kelly gave up painted surfaces, instead choosing unvarnished steel, aluminum or bronze,[32] often in totem-like configurations such as Curve XXIII (1981). While the totemic forms of his freestanding sculptures can measure up to 15 feet tall, his wall reliefs can span more than 14 feet wide.[29] Kelly’s sculpture “is founded on its adherence to absolute simplicity and clarity of form.”[33] For his 1980s sculptures, uring this period in Spencertown, the artist devoted for the first time as much energy to his sculptures as to his painting, producing over sixty percent of his total 140 sculptures.[31]

Although Kelly may be better known for his paintings, he has also worked at sculpture throughout his career. In 1958, Kelly conceived one of his first wood sculptures, Concorde Relief I (1958), a modestly scaled wall relief in elm, which explores the visual play and balance between two rectangular forms layered on top of each other, the uppermost with its top-right and lower-left corners removed. He has made 30 sculptures in wood throughout his career.[29] From 1959 onwards, he created freestanding folded sculptures.[30] The Rocker series began in 1959 after Kelly's casual conversation with Agnes Martin, who lived below him on Coenties Slip in Lower Manhattan. Playing with the paper top from a take-out coffee cup, Kelly cut and folded a section of the round object, which he then put on the table and rocked back and forth. Soon after, he constructed his first sculpture-in-the-round, Pony. The title refers to a child's hobby horse with curving rocker supports.[31]

White Curves (2002), made of white aluminium, in the garden of the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland


He took up printmaking in a concerted fashion in the mid-1960s, when he produced his Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs (1964–66) with Maeght Éditeur in Paris. It was then that he created his first group of plant lithographs.[22] Since then he has collaborated primarily with Gemini G.E.L.. His initial series of 28 transfer lithographs, entitled Suite of Plant Lithographs, marked the beginning of a corpus that would grow to 72 prints and countless drawings of foliage.[24] In 1971, he completed four editions of prints and an edition of the multiple Mirrored Concorde at Gemini G.E.L.[25] His Purple/Red/Gray/Orange (1988), at eighteen feet in length, may be the largest single-sheet lithograph ever made.[26] His recent editions, The River, States of the River and River II, reflect the fascination with water Kelly has had since his early days in Paris.[27] In 1975, Ellsworth Kelly was the first artist to exhibit for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art's MATRIX series. The exhibition displayed Kelly's Corn Stalk drawings series and two of his 1974 cor-ten steel sculptures.[28]

Kelly has been making drawings of plants and flowers since the late 1940s.[20] Ailanthus (1948) is the first plant drawing that he executed in Boston, Hyacinth (1949) was the first one he did when he was in Paris.[21] Beginning in 1949, while living in Paris (and influenced in this choice of subject by Henri Matisse and Jean Arp) he began to draw simple plant and seaweed forms.[22] The plant studies are, for the most part, contour drawings of leaves, stems and flowers done in clean strokes of pencil or pen and centered on the page.[23] He also first experimented with reductive geometry in paint and wood in 1949.

Lithographs and drawings

In his recent painting, Kelly has distilled his palette and introduced new forms. In each work, he starts with a rectangular canvas which he carefully paints with many coats of white paint; a shaped canvas, mostly painted black, is placed on top.[19]

A larger series of twelve works which Kelly started in 1972 and did not complete until 1983, Gray was originally conceived as an anti-war statement and is drained of color.[18] In 1979 he used curves in two-colour paintings made of separate panels.[11]

After leaving New York City for Spencertown in 1970, he rented a former theater in the nearby town of Chatham, allowing to work in a studio more spacious than any he had previously occupied. After working there for a year, Kelly embarked on a series of 14 paintings that would become the Chatham Series. Each work takes the form of an inverted ell, and is made of two joined canvases, each canvas a monochrome of a different color. The works vary in proportion and palette from one to the next; careful attention was paid to the size of each panel and the color selected in order to achieve balance and contrast between the two.[17]

During the 1960s he started working with irregularly angled canvases. Yellow Piece (1966), the artist’s first shaped canvas, represents Kelly’s pivotal break with the rectangular support and his redefinition of painting’s figure/ground relationship. With its curved corners and single, all-encompassing color, the canvas itself becomes the composition, transforming the wall behind it into the picture’s ground.[15] In the 1970s he added curved shapes to his repertoire.[13] Green White (1968) marks the debut appearance of the triangle in Kelly’s oeuvre, a shape that reoccurs throughout his career; the painting is composed of two distinct, shaped monochromatic canvases, which are installed on top of each other: a large-scale, inverted, green trapezoid is positioned vertically above of a smaller white triangle, forming a new geometric composition.[16]

Kelly's discovery in 1952 of [11] Kelly's relief painting Blue Tablet (1962), for example, was included in the seminal 1963 exhibition, Toward a New Abstraction, at the Jewish Museum.[14]

While in Paris, Kelly had continued to paint the figure but by May 1949, he made his first abstract paintings.[11] Observing how light dispersed on the surface of water, he painted Seine (1950), made of black and white rectangles arranged by chance. In 1951 he started a series of eight collages titled Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance I to VIII. He created it by using numbered slips of paper; each referred to a colour, one of eighteen different hues to be placed on a grid 40 inches by 40 inches. Each of the eight collages used a different process.[12]


Kelly eventually moved away from Coenties Slip, where he had sometimes shared a studio with fellow artist and friend Agnes Martin, up to the ninth floor of the high-rise studio/co-op Hotel des Artistes at 27 West 67th Street.[9] Kelly left New York City for Spencertown in 1970 and was joined by his partner, photographer Jack Shear, in 1984.[10] Since 2001, he has been working in a 20,000-square-feet studio reconfigured and extended by the architect Richard Gluckman in Spencertown. Kelly and Shear moved to their current residence, a wood-clad Colonial house built circa 1815, in 2005.[10] Shear serves as the director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.[6]

After being abroad for six years, Kelly decided to return to America in 1954. He was interested after reading a review of an Ad Reinhardt exhibit, to which he felt his work related. Upon his return to New York, he found the art world “very tough.”[1] Although Kelly is now considered an essential innovator and contributor to the American art movement, it was hard for many to find the connection between Kelly’s art and the dominant stylistic trends.[7] In May 1956 Kelly had his first New York exhibition at Betty Parsons’ Gallery. His art was considered more European than was popular in New York. He showed again at her gallery in the fall of 1957. Three of his pieces: Atlantic, Bar, and Painting in Three Panels, were selected and shown for the Whitney Museum of American Art's exhibit, "Young America 1957.” His pieces were considered radically different from the other twenty-nine artists’ works. Painting in Three Panels, for example, was particularly noted; at the time critics questioned his creating a work from three canvases.[1] For instance, Michael Plante has said that, more often than not, Kelly’s multiple-panel pieces were cramped because of installation restrictions, which reduced the interaction between the pieces and the architecture of the room.[8]

Ellsworth Kelly, The Meschers, 1951, oil on canvas, 59 x 59 inches, Museum of Modern Art. Kelly was a pioneer of hard-edge painting in the 1940s and 1950s


[7] Kelly established his aesthetic.Paris While in [6]

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