Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings
American artist Ellsworth Kelly 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 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.
Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings is the first retrospective examination of Kelly’s exceedingly prolific print practice since 1988. The exhibition includes over 100 prints, the majority from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, and five paintings. The exhibition is organized thematically in order to explore Kelly’s mastery of key formal motifs: grids, contrast and curves. In the words of catalogue raisonné author Richard Axsom, Kelly’s prints “exchange the totemic presence, the tangible physicality and public assertiveness of the paintings and sculptures for the qualities no less genuine in registering Kelly’s vision: intimacy, delicacy, and in nearly immaterial veils of shape and color, an unmatched ethereality.”
Image: Ellsworth Kelly, Colors on a Grid, 1976, lithograph on 350-gram Arches 88 paper, 48 ¼ x 48 ¼ inches (122.6 x 122.6 cm), edition of 46, © Ellsworth Kelly and Tyler Graphics, Ltd.
Artist Ellsworth Kelly talks with curator Stephanie Barron about the exhibition, on view through April 22, 2012.
While Los Angeles may not figure directly in his work, Ellsworth Kelly has made a distinct impression on the city—from the close working relationships and friendships he has formed, through the collections that preserve his work, to the artists he continues to inspire. His latest exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings, is now on view at LACMA...
One would think that Ellsworth Kelly’s abstract art was easy, being so casually blissful. And bliss is a quality one could readily associate with the beautifully curated exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings, which is on view in BCAM through April 22. There is this sort of simple clarity, which by its very nature is a kind of misdirection. And for those in the know, it might be there on the face of the work, but for me, I had one of those “doors of perception moments” that made looking at the work feel as if I were seeing it for the first time. And suddenly, and amazingly, it was quite thrilling...