Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923).  Chatham VI: Red Blue. 1971. Oil on canvas, two panels. 9′ 6 1/2″ x 8′ 6 1/4″ (290.8 x 259.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Douglas S. Cramer Foundation. © 2013 Ellsworth Kelly Photo credit: Department of Imaging and Visual Resources, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Tom Griesel.

Ellsworth Kelly, his First Series, the Chatham Series, on View at MoMA

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham IV: Blue Red-Orange. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 108 x 99″ (274.3 x 251.5 cm). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Gift of Daniel Melnick. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham V: Red Blue. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 108 x 99 1/2″ (274.3 x 252.7 cm). Glenstone. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: Glenstone. Photo: Tim Nighswander.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham VIII: Red Yellow. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 90 1/8 x 81 5/8″ (228.9 x 207.3 cm). Marc and Livia Straus Family Collection. © Ellsworth Kelly, Photo credit: Photo: D. James Dee.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham IX: Black Green. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 109 x 96″ (276.9 x 243.8 cm). Collection Mr. Irving Blum. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham III: Black Blue. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 108 x 96″ (274.3 x 243.8 cm). Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection. © Ellsworth Kelly Photo credit: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

 

Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
212-708-9431
New York
The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Painting and Sculpture Galleries, Fourth floor
Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series
May 25-September 8, 2013

In celebration of Ellsworth Kelly’s 90th birthday, Museum of Modern Art presents Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series, an exhibition that reunites, for the first time in 40 years, the first series of paintings the artist made after leaving New York City for Spencertown, in upstate New York, in 1970. The exhibition is organized by Ann Temkin, the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

After working for about a year in a studio he found in the nearby town of Chatham, Kelly (American, b. 1923) embarked upon an ambitious series of 14 paintings that he would name for the town. Each of the works in the Chatham Series takes the form of an inverted ell made of two joined canvases, each a different color: black, white, red, yellow, blue, or green. These compositions grew from an intuitive process rather than a system: the final paintings are based on studies Kelly made by manipulating paired pieces of colored paper, adjusting the colors and their proportions until he was pleased.

By the time he created the Chatham Series, Kelly was well established as an artist. Born in Newburgh, New York, and trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, he first developed his abstract vocabulary of line, form, and color while iving and working in Paris, from 1948 to 1954. Resolving to make what he described as “anonymous” work, Kelly aimed to suppress the presence of personal painterly gesture in his canvases. During this formative period Kelly began to explore the joining of monochrome expanses together to create multipanel works, an approach that has endured throughout his career.

The Chatham Series was first exhibited at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, in 1972, one year after the series' completion. At the close of that exhibition, the 14 paintings went their separate ways. Reuniting this landmark series for the first time provides a welcome opportunity to revisit a key moment in Kelly’s artistic development.

Publication: Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series illustrates the complete group of paintings and includes an essay by Ann Temkin, the Museum’s Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, that traces the artist’s explorations of shape, color, and spatiality from the early 1950s to today, and provides an in-depth look at this significant period in Kelly’s work. 72 pages, 30 illustrations. $22.95, hardcover. 9.5 x 11". Published by The Museum of Modern Art and available at MoMA Stores and online at MoMAStore.org. Distributed to the trade through ARTBOOK|D.A.P. in the United States and Canada, and through Thames & Hudson outside the United States and Canada.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham II: Blue Red. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 96 x 87 1/2″ (243.8 x 222.3 cm). Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham XI: Blue Yellow. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 90 x 77″ (228.6 x 195.6 cm). Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: Albright-Knox Art Gallery / Art Resource, N.Y.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham I: White Black. 1971/2004. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 96 1/4 x 81″ (244.5 x 205.7 cm). Collection of the artist © Ellsworth Kelly Photo credit: courtesy Ellsworth Kelly. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham XIII: Yellow Red. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 96 x 81 1/2″ (243.8 x 207 cm). Private collection. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: Photo: D. James Dee.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham X: Black Red. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 108 x 95 3/4″ (274.3 x 243.2 cm). Private collection. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham VII: Black White. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 110 1/2 x 94 1/2″ (280.7 x 240 cm). Collection Frances Bowes. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: courtesy Pace Gallery.

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham XII: Yellow Black. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 84 x 76 1/4″ (213.4 x 193.7 cm). Collection of the artist. © Ellsworth Kelly Photo credit: courtesy Ellsworth Kelly. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson.

 

Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923). Chatham XIV: Black White. 1971. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 96 x 88 1/2″ (243.8 x 224.8 cm). Private collection. © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo credit: courtesy Dominique Lévy Gallery, New York.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image VIII (Gray Curve with Blue), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 117.79 x 83.19 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly's Foray into Irregular, Colored Paper Pulp Imagery

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image XI (Gray Curves with Brown), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 117.48 x 83.5 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image VI (White Curve with Black II), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 117.79 x 82.87 cm , National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image V (Blue Curves), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp sheet (irregular): 117.16 x 82.87 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I. © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image IX (Four Grays with Black I), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 117.48 x 82.87 cm, ational Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image XII (Blue Curve with Brown and Gray), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 118.43 x 82.87 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

 

National Gallery of Art
4th and Constitution Avenue NW
202-737-4215
Washington
Ground Level of the East Building
Ellsworth Kelly: Colored Paper Images
December 16, 2012-December 1, 2013

When unveiled in 1977, Ellsworth Kelly's (born 1923) Colored Paper Images stood apart from the crisp angles and curves and pristine monochrome surfaces for which he was best known. Each of the Colored Paper Images features erratic edges, irregular textures, and pools and drifts of alluring color.

"The Gallery is pleased to present this extraordinarily beautiful body of work from its substantial holdings of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by Ellsworth Kelly," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "Kelly has long been recognized for his mastery of form and color, but even to those who know his work well, these Colored Paper Images will come as a revelation."

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

The Exhibition The Colored Paper Images were created using colored and pressed paper pulp. Kelly worked with textured, white, handmade paper. Shaped molds were placed on dampened individual sheets and colored liquefied paper pulp was spooned into the molds. When the pulp settled, the molds were removed and the white sheet and colored pulp were run through a printing press, fusing the damp paper layers and producing "bleeds." The path of the bleeds was as unpredictable as the colored shape's contours. Multiple impressions were made of each image, resulting in an edition that is visually variable. The project, realized at the HMP Paper Mill in Woodstock, Connecticut, resulted in 23 different prints with editions published by Tyler Graphics Ltd.

Kelly distills his abstractions from a wide array of sources: tree branches, window cornices, cast shadows, and more. Such motifs are reduced and refined through intuition rather than mathematical calculation.

His resulting forms transcend the original motif to become unique inventions with scale, contour, color, and texture locked into remarkable equilibrium. While Kelly has periodically allowed accident to play a role in his works, he has never done so more dramatically than in the Color Paper Images.

About the Artist A key figure in postwar abstraction, Kelly was influenced by the European art he sought out while stationed overseas during World War II and subsequently while living in France from 1948 to 1954. Diverse influences shaped his vision, from romanesque architecture to the work of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Personal contact with modernists such as the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi and the French artist Jean Arp contributed significantly to his thinking. Their reductive and evocative forms were formative influences for Kelly, as was the automatic drawing of the surrealists.

Returning to the United States in the mid-1950s, Kelly's art appeared cool and refined compared with the emotionally charged work of the abstract expressionists who then dominated the New York art world. Kelly's art was likewise removed from the geometric abstraction of Josef Albers and Ad Reinhardt, for example, who leaned strongly toward theory rather than Kelly's more intuitive approach.

While Kelly championed the modernist concept of the abstract painting as object — rather than the painting as a means of depiction — he has alternately created elegant plant drawings made directly from nature.

Ellsworth Kelly and the National Gallery of Art The first work by Ellsworth Kelly entered the National Gallery's collection in 1975. Since then, the Gallery's Kelly holdings have grown to more than 200 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints.

An extensive overview of Kelly's limited edition prints may be found in the National Gallery's Gemini G.E.L. (Graphics Editions Limited) Archive; Kelly has worked at the Los Angeles printmaking studio since 1970. The broad range of his art has also been seen in numerous exhibitions at the Gallery.

In 1992, the National Gallery presented the groundbreaking exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: The Years in France, 1948-1954, a study of the artist's early work. Kelly's work has been highlighted in two National Gallery exhibitions of the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection, in 1996 and 2009. His Stele II was one of seventeen principal works on view in the Gallery's Sculpture Garden when it opened in 1999. That same year Kelly delivered the sixth annual Elson Lecture at the National Gallery.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image X (Blue with Gray), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 117.48 x 82.87 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image I (White Curve with Black I), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 117.48 x 82.6 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image VII (Yellow Curve with Gray), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 118.43 x 82.87 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image IV (Red Curve), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 118.43 x 83.19 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image II, State (Green Curves), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp, sheet (irregular): 118.1 x 81.92 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image III (Blue Black Curves), 1976, colored and pressed paper pulp sheet (irregular): 81.92 x 117.48 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Professional Art Group I, © Ellsworth Kelly.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Red/Blue (Untitled), from the portfolio Ten Works by Ten Painters, 1964, Screenptint on Mohawk Superfine Cover Paper, Framed: 75.565 x 64.405 cm; Sheet: 61 x 50.8 cm, Edition 500, Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer, © Ellsworth Kelly and Wadsworth Aheeneum.

Ellsworth Kelly Print Retrospective (since the Late 1980s)

Ellsworth Kelly, Colors on a Grid, 1976, Lithograph on 350-gram Arches 88 paper, Framed: 132.08 x 132.08 cm; Sheet: 122.6 x 122.6 cm, Edition of 46, Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer, © Ellsworth Kelly and Tyler Graphics, Ltd.

Ellsworth Kelly, The Yangtze, from States of the River, 2005, 1 color lithograph, 45 x 32", Edition of 25.

Ellsworth Kelly, Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs: Orange over Blue (Orange sur Bleu), 1964-65, Lithograph on Rives BFK paper, Framed 89.535 x 60.325 cm; Sheet 89.5 x 60.3 cm, Edition of 75, Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, © Ellsworth Kelly and Maeght Editeur, Paris.

 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax Avenue)
323-857-6000
Los Angeles
Broad Contemporary Art Museum,
second floor
Ellsworth Kelly: prints and paintings
January 22-April 22, 2012

Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings, the first retrospective of the artist’s prolific print practice since the late 1980s, coincides with the forthcoming revised and updated catalogue raisonné of Kelly’s prints, and features more than 100 works on paper, in addition to a selection of paintings from local collections. Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings is organized thematically by key motifs, demonstrating the artist’s long-standing engagement with elemental form and pure color.

“This exhibition allows us to see the consistency of Kelly’s print practice, and how the formal hallmarks of his paintings and drawings have an important place in his graphic work,” notes Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art and exhibition co-curator.

Britt Salvesen, curator of prints and drawings and exhibition co-curator adds, “Whether created in series or individually, these prints offer an opportunity to explore Kelly’s ongoing interest in pure form and color.”

Kelly produced his first editioned prints in 1964-65, with Maeght Éditeur in Paris. Although he has explored intaglio and screenprinting methods, his primary affinity is for lithography. His growing interest in the medium coincided with the founding of Gemini G.E.L., the now-legendary print workshop located on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Gemini’s founders — Ken Tyler, Sidney Felsen, and Stanley Grinstein — first approached Kelly in 1968. Based on strong recommendations by artist Frank Stella and critic Barbara Rose, Kelly accepted their invitation and first visited the workshop in 1970, initiating a collaboration that has lasted more than forty years. In total, the artist has created 336 editions.

Exhibition Overview Spanning five galleries on the second floor of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM), the exhibition is organized thematically by major formal motifs: curves, contrast, and grids. The final room, with four major paintings, suggests the reciprocal connections between Kelly’s paintings and prints. A majority of the prints on view come from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer, a Portland, Oregon based collector with an extensive holding of Kelly’s prints. Together with examples from LACMA’s collection, the exhibition provides a thorough overview of the artist’s prolific printmaking activity.

Throughout his career, Kelly has worked with curvilinear shapes, exploring their abstract potential without losing their biomorphic allusions. As seen in the first gallery, he introduces variations of scale and color, suspending forms gracefully on the white ground of the paper. The second gallery presents Kelly’s first engagement with printmaking —Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs (1964-65), created for Maeght Éditeur — which is a kind of concordance of forms Kelly had been refining in his paintings during the prior decade. The inherently repetitive nature of the printing process allowed the artist to reshuffle these basic shapes in a range of colors while maintaining cohesion throughout the suite.

Kelly is one of modern art’s great colorists, but black has also featured prominently in his work: more than half of his prints are black-and-white compositions. The exhibition’s third and largest gallery demonstrates the astonishing variation Kelly has achieved within the discipline of monochrome. Plant lithographs have the delicacy of drawings and the immediacy of direct observation; while the monumental States of the River prints (2005) are gestural, even impressionistic.

Kelly usually develops an idea first in a collage or drawing before realizing it as a painting, sculpture, or print. Exceptionally, the artist has lent 16 examples of these initial studies for inclusion in LACMA’s exhibition, including his 1949 first study for a lithograph made when he was in Paris. Two examples address a third recurrent formal motif: the grid, which maps the artwork’s surface and eliminates theme, narrative, and perspectival space. The dimensionality of canvas returns in the exhibition’s concluding gallery, which features LACMA’s Blue on Blue (1963) and Blue Curve III (1972); Red Orange White Green Blue (1968) from the Norton Simon Museum of Art; and Black Relief over White (2004), generously on loan from a Los Angeles private collection. Together with LACMA’s White Sculpture II (1968, a gift of Ray Stark, on display at the exhibition’s entrance), these objects illustrate the many thematic overlaps between Kelly’s prints and his works in other media.

American artist Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923) is universally recognized as one of the most important purveyors of American abstraction. Born in Newburgh, New York, Kelly studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn until he was drafted into the U.S. Army at the age of 20, spending the majority of his military service in Europe. From 1948 through 1954, he lived in France, teaching, traveling and studying both art and architecture. French abstraction greatly influenced the young artist, whose style changed drastically during this early moment in his career. He abandoned figuration and easel painting, choosing instead to develop a vocabulary of simple geometric shapes and swatches of pure, vibrant color. Returning to New York, Kelly established his critical reputation in the 1960s.

During this time, his connection to the Los Angeles art scene also flourished. He had his first solo show at the Ferus Gallery in 1965, where he continued to exhibit regularly, and in 1967 he showed at Irving Blum’s gallery. His paintings appeared in LACMA’s Post-Painterly Abstraction exhibition in 1964, alongside artists such as Frank Stella, Morris Louis, Sam Francis, and Helen Frankenthaler, among others. Local collectors and art patrons devoutly supported his career, with the result that he is well represented in the city’s private and public collections. In addition to the paintings and sculpture mentioned above, LACMA’s collection includes over 70 prints, many of them gifts of the artist and Gemini G.E.L.

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Purple/Red/Grey/Orange, 1988, Color Lithograph, Sheet: 131.45 x 567.69 cm, Graphic Arts Council Curatorial Discretionary Fund, © 2010 Ellsworth Kelly, Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

Ellsworth Kelly, Red Orange White Green Blue, 1968, Oil on canvas, Overall: 304.8 x 305.7 cm; Each Panel: 304.8 x 61 cm, Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase, Fellows Acquisition Fund, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Burdock, 1976, Pencil on paper, 27 x 57,8 cm, Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly's Career-Long Practice of Drawing Plants

Ellsworth Kelly, Lemon Branch, 1964, Pencil on paper, 72,4 x 57,2 cm, Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Apples, 1949, Watercolor and pencil, 62,9 x 49,2 cm, Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Burdock, 1986, Pencil on paper, 33,2 x 25,3 cm, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München © Ellsworth Kelly.

 

Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
+ 49 0 89 21127-113
Munich
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München
Ellsworth Kelly – Plant Drawings
October 7, 2011-January 8, 2012

This selection of around 60 drawings and 24 large-scale lithographs of plants by the American artist Ellsworth Kelly, now 88, spans all decades in which he has been active since the 6 years he spent in France, from 1948-54.

This early period gave rise to a rich body of drawings inspired by the close observation of nature that also saw Kelly tackle a century-old tradition in fine art — the depiction of plants. Kelly himself has stated that his early plant drawings form the basis of his entire later work.

It was in Paris that Ellsworth Kelly first embarked on developing what eventually became an autonomous abstract pictorial language. The artist held a teaching post in the city at the American School between 1950 and 1951.

His encounter with works as diverse as those by Monet and Matisse, Le Corbusier, Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Brancusi, Mondrian, Vantongerloo and Picabia had a profound impact on his own gradually evolving pictorial language. Unlike most other American artists of the 20th century, Kelly explicitly included a critical appreciation of the traditions of European modernism in his work.

His Plant Drawings reflect a particular mode of perception, which — as evidenced in other subjects in his drawings — focussed on removing certain visual details, observed from the material world around him (such as reflections and ripples on the Seine, shadows cast from shutters etc.) from their actual context and objectifying them as purely artistic forms. It is this idea that allows the artist to see, for instance, a direct relationship between the curved outline of a banana leaf and the form of one of his shaped canvases.

Ellsworth Kelly is one of the most important artists in the world alive today, and is one of the most sought after names for international collectors.

After its premiere in Munich, the exhibition will go on show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and then the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

To accompany the show, an extensive catalogue is due for release, including around 100 illustrations, an interview between Ellsworth Kelly and Marla Prather and an essay by Michael Semff.

Ellsworth Kelly, Sunflower, 1957, Watercolor, 61 x 45,7 cm, Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Poppy, 2010, Pencil on paper, 40 x 29,8 cm, Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Hyacinth, 1949, Ink on paper, 41,9 x 30,5 cm, Private collection.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Wild Grape, 1961, Watercolor, 57,2 x 72,4 cm, Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Castor Bean, 1961, Ink on paper, 57,2 x 72,4 cm, Private collection © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, La Combe II, 1950-51, 2 cut-outs, collage and pencil, 99.1 x 118.1 cm, Private collection, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, White Curve, 1974, Painted aluminum, 161,9 x 513,1 x 10,5 cm, Tate, London, purchase, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Seine, 1951, Oil on wood, 41.9 x 114.9 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Purchase in honor of Anne d’Harnoncourt, 2009, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly's Black and White and Monochromatic Works

Ellsworth Kelly, Potato Barn, Long Island II, 1968, Silver gelatin print, 27.9 x 35.6 cm, Collection of the artist, Photo © the artist.

Ellsworth Kelly, Curve seen from a highway, Austerlitz, New York, 1970, Silver gelatin print, 27.9 x 35.6 cm, Collection of the artist, Photo © the artist.

Ellsworth Kelly, Neuilly, 1950, Gesso on cardboard mounted on wood, 59.1 x 80 x 3.8 cm, Collection of the artist, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, White over Black, 1963, Painted aluminum, 182.9 x 193.0 x 20.3 cm, Daros Collection, Switzerland, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Black Ripe, 1955, Oil on canvas, 160.7 x 150.8 cm, Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Plant II, 1949, Oil on wood, 41.9 x 33.0 cm, Private collection, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Black Curve in Relief 2009, Oil on canvas, two joined panels, 200,7 x 150,5 x 6,7 cm, Private collection, © Ellsworth Kelly.

 

Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
+ 49 0 89 21127-113
Munich
Ellsworth Kelly. Black and White
October 7, 2011-March 1, 2012

The exhibition is devoted solely to the works in black and white. Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923 in Newburgh, New York) regularly verified a newfound formal solution through an execution in black and white. Mostly these versions in black and white were created parallel to the coloured versions; sometimes they preceded them.

According to Ellsworth Kelly, his paintings in black and white comprise approximately 20 percent of his total oeuvre; their amount in the complete work is higher than that of any other two-colour combination. So far these works have never been brought together in an exhibition, although the artist has encouraged this kind of retrospective since the 1990s.

Since the beginning of his artistic endeavours, Ellsworth Kelly dealt with basic shapes he found in reality. In doing so, his perception is inspired by an object's external characteristics. He is interested in shadows and the texture of surfaces isolated from their contexts.

By transforming his pictorial ideas into black and white — as a representation of dark and light — Ellsworth Kelly is able to concentrate exclusively on form and outline. The distraction of emotional values of colours is omitted.

Ellsworth Kelly's use of these forms revolves around one central topic: How significantly does the perception of mass and volume, of figure and ground, of the canvas and its relation to space alternate, depending on whether black appears over white or white cuts through black.

Ellsworth Kelly usually reduces an object that captivates his attention into the two-dimensional: a glass porch, the floor of a terrace in an Parisian sidewalk cafe, the shadow of a hand rail on a staircase. His gaze penetrates these objects, i.e. he reaches to their very nature by removing them from their spatial context. Ellsworth Kelly isolates and copies without modifying or adding anything. He deliberately does not resort to invented lines and is thereby free of any necessity to compose something: "The things that interest me were always there."

In this way a fragment of everyday reality, which he translates into simple, memorable forms, is transformed into a sign that can be understood spiritually. The canon of forms Ellsworth Kelly has created over the decades is as reserved as elegant and maintains a balance between monumentality and fragility.

An example of his approach, which has since become an iconic figure, dates from 1949, Window. Museum of Modern Art Paris. One of the museum's vertical windows served as the motif for this relief. Ellsworth Kelly measured the window's panes, had a cabinet maker construct wooden reproductions of the frame and painted these. The lower of the two panels out of which the •Window. Museum of Modern Art Paris• consists, lies behind the upper one. Moreover, the frame and the mullions cast real shadows. In much the same way a year later, while spending the summer in Meschers-sur-Gironde on the Atlantic coast of France, the shadow cast by the railing on the white stairs leading to his room gave him the idea for the series "La Combe". The execution in black and white is a folding screen of nine panels. Fragments of diagonals protrude from the top in its white ground.

Ellsworth Kelly long kept the source of his motifs quiet. Presumably he was doubtful that his paintings would be comprehended as solely inspired by everyday objects, and his proximity to figurative abstraction would be overestimated. Back then there was an ideological abyss between abstract and representational painting. He himself stated that Mondrian's style and his program of neutrality, which places no emphasis on texture or brushstroke, the aura of Constantine Brancusi's forms as well as the work of Picasso were all important for his artistic development.

Years later Ellsworth Kelly changed his attitude toward the disclosure of his sources. During a sojourn in Paris in 1967 he photographed the window that provided the motif for Window. Museum of Modern Art Paris, thus subsequently revealing the painting's source. The reason was that he wished to oppose something against the classification of his work as Minimalistic.

The cosmos of his black and white works is in the exhibition expanded by a concise selection of drawings, collages and photographs. With his drawings and collages Ellsworth Kelly sketches ideas for images that he sometimes only executes decades later. The photographs document the original impressions that have become established as perceptions: a broken pane of glass, a rooftop that reaches down to the meadow, the gentle elevation of a snowy hill, the reflection of the sun on a corrugated roof, the hard diagonal shadow of a garage driveway. In their function as reminders they are subordinated to the paintings and yet testify to the search for similar phenomena.

Published by Hatje Cantz, the catalogue includes texts by Jˆrg Daur, Carter Foster, Alexander Klar, and Ulrich Wilmes; ca. 200 pages including ca. 70 illustrations, ISBN 978-3-7757-3217-8.

Ellsworth Kelly, Shadows on Stairs, Villa La Combe, Meschers, 1950, Silver gelatin print, 35.6 x 27.9 cm, Collection of the artist, Photo © the artist.

Ellsworth Kelly, Broken Window, Paris, 1978, Silver gelatin print, 27.9 x 35.6 cm, Collection of the artist, Photo © the artist.

Ellsworth Kelly, Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris 1949, Oil on wood and canvas, two joined panels, 128,3 x 49,5 cm, Collection of the artist, © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, White Black, 1961, Oil on canvas, 233.7 x 116.8 cm, Private collection, © Ellsworth Kelly.

 

Ellworth Kelly, Hangar Doorway, St. Barts, 1977, Silver gelatin print, 27.9 x 35.6 cm, Collection of the artist, Photo © the artist.

Ellsworth Kelly, Barn Roof, Taconic, New York, 1974, Silver gelatin print, 27.9 x 35.6 cm, Collection of the artist, Photo © the artist.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Study for Meschers, 1951, Cut-and-pasted printed paper, 49.5 x 49.5 cm, Gift of the artist, 502.1997, © 2007 Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly Exhibition at MoMA Unveils Three as yet Unseen Works

Ellsworth Kelly,Study for Rebound, 1955. Ink and pencil on paper, 17 5/8 x 18 3/8", Gift of the artist in honor of Dorothy Miller. © 2007 Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951, Oil on canvas, sixty-four wood panels, 7' 10-1/2" x 7' 10-1/2", Gift of the artist, © 2007 Ellsworth Kelly.

 

Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
212-708-9400
New York
The Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann
Gallery, fourth floor
Focus: Ellsworth Kelly
September 19, 2007-January 7, 2008

Ellsworth Kelly (b. Newburgh, New York, May 31, 1923) is associated with Hard-edge painting, Color field painting and the minimalist school. Many of his paintings consist of a single (usually bright) color, with some canvases being of irregular shape (i.e., shaped canvases).

Kelly's quality of line seen in his paintings and in the form of his shaped canvases is very subtle and implies perfection.

This single-gallery installation is devoted to 13 paintings and drawings by Kelly. Three of the paintings are on view for the first time at MoMA and are recent acquisitions: Relief with Blue (1950), a gift from Donald L. Bryant, Jr., a Museum Trustee; Dominican (1952), a gift from the artist; and Two Whites (1959), a gift from James and Kathy Goodman. In addition to these and other pivotal works from the 1950s, the gallery will feature a major work from the 1980s, Three Panels: Orange, Dark Gray, Green (1986). Composed of three shaped canvases, it spans 34 feet of the gallery wall. Over the past five decades, Kelly has redefined abstraction by examining the shapes and colors found in natural and manmade forms, producing a visually and philosophically sophisticated body of work.

Organized by Elizabeth Reede, Assistant Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

He studied at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, from 1941 to 1943 and then after serving in the military from 1943 to 1945 he attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1946 to 1947. He then studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, through the G.I. Bill.

His first solo exhibition was at Galerie Arnaud, Paris, 1951. His first retrospective was at Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1973.

Ellsworth Kelly, Study for White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection, detail, 1951, Cut-and-pasted colored paper on paper, 20-1/4 x 14-1/4", Gift of the artist in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., © 2007 Ellsworth Kelly.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Three Panels: Orange, Dark Gray, Green, 1986, Oil on canvas, three parts, Overall 9' 8" x 34' 4-1/2", Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art New York. Fractional Gift of the Douglas S. Cramer, Gift of Douglas S. Cramer Foundation, © 2007 Ellsworth Kelly.