Issuu on Google+

The Drawing Center's

DRA\TIN

E L L S W OR TH

PAPERS2 9

KELLY

TA B LE 7 948

7973


29 T he Dr awingC e n te r M ay z - J uly 2 4 , 2 o o 2

E L L S W OR TH

TA 1948

r973

K ELLY

LE T


tl{TRODUCTIOt{ nothing I tooked,everythingI sow becomesomethingto be mode,ond it hod to be exoctlYos it wos,with Everywhere Thesubiectwos thereolreodymode,ond I could odded.tt woso new fteedom:tnerewosno longerthe needto compose. rodd lt olt belongedto me:o glossroof of o foctorywith its brokenInd potchedponels'lineson o tokefrom everything. goes' onything some: lt wos oll the frogmentsin the street. mop...poper KE LLYN,otesfrom 1969 ELLsw oR rr

or curator a cri ti c,col l ector, howenchanted n descri bi ng It m ays eemc om mo n p l a ctoe b e g i na n i n tro d u c ti oby a blinding sheds work that work, undisclosed artist's an of drawers, in a setof studio canfeelat the discovery, K el l y E l l sw orth w hen our amazement descri be to how el se . t g a t h e h a sre a l i z ebde fo reYe lighton ev er y t h i nth j otti ngs-uni que examand draw i ngs hl s unseen s u c hd ra w e rsfi,l l e dw i th 2 5 y e a rso f someof opened r ec ent ly ? c the found by an aesthetiof Generated n i sh a se l o q u e n tlcya l l e dthe " al ready-made" p lesof whaty v e-Al a i Bo letters, cuttings' paper-newspaper of on scraps andnotesthat Kellyexecuted drawings thegroupincludes object, ephemera these Madefrom menus,photographs. g ,a l l e ryi n v i ta ti o n ai s, rpl ane w ra p p e rs ic,e- c re a m e nv elopes in 1973,the yearKelly board mat of sheets 200 over on mounted were sketches the in shoeboxes, andcollected N ewY ork.Foral most30 S l i pto S pencertowi nnupstate m ov edf r omhisstu d i oi n l o w e rMa n h a ttaant C o e nti es but,recovered drawings, working as set aside were cutouts and studies the informal assembling years, the sheets Ioblet, Entitled personal inspirations. most his processes and today,theyprovideinsightintothe artist'screative w hi chhe by means the reveal l ng thi nki ng, hi s i magi nati ve ef n rm sa n a rc h i v o K ellv ,not s epad-l i kceo mp i l a ti ofo life' fromeveryday shapes ideasandabstracts extracts and s sti cdevel opment, , e d ra w i n gssp a na p rol i fi candpi votalperi odi n K el l y'arti Dat ingf r om 194 gto 1 9 7 3th pai ntl ng, an i deai ntoa l arge-scal e tro vei n orderto transform oc c as i o nhse tu rn e dto th i stre a s u re on s ev er al shaperevealists ori gi nsas an envel ope reliefor , s c ulpt u reIn. o n e i m a g efro m th e fi fti e s,a cutoutabstract the by experi mentiw ngi thautomati sm, Gai ned S l i p. Coenti es a t l i v e d to o , s h e , t o A gn e sM a rti nw h e n a ddr es s ed (tgs6) Ferry pai nti ngs south for the the basi s became whi ch d o o d l e s , ev ent u a l l e y dto o th e rd ra ftsa n d X - s hape i n hi sw ork,K el l ycreatR earrangi the ng foundel ements Go fe(1 9 59). a ndRedW h1e(1 9 6 2a)n dth e s c u l p tu re of , , non- c om p o s i ti oIn n sth."i s ,h e w a si n fl u e n c ebdy movements the abandonment advocati ng si xti es i n the ed the and non-readabl e of the the creati on narra ti vth e ro u g hth es o -c a l l edde a thof the authorand c onv ent ional i s madeto beused i ty al phabet , e s en o ti o n cs o n c u rrewdi th" theutopi aof i mpersonal(an A sB oiswr i te sth s er ial. For of potenti al li ynfi ni tepermutati ons." the arti st,non) t h e i d e a(a l s oi n h e re nitn a n a l p h a b et) by ot her sand the w ork' s i n the vi sualfi el d.W hatever hi erarchy r em a i n ead w a y o f s y s te m a ti c adl liys mantl i ng c om nos it ion sai d:" l don' tw antto havemy ow n f r hol e.K el l yhi mselonce it alway slo o k sl i k ea fra g me not f a l a rg e w s c ale, to exi ston and i ts ow n' l i teral ' qual i ty I w antmy pai nti ngs h a s th i n g w o rk ...A w i th th e per s onal m ar kin te rfe re ' W el l , there!" ' nothi ng there' s say: peopl e mi ght p o i n t where si n ki n toa c c e p ta n ctoe th e t he s am elev el, asto w hati n the i n hi sdeci si on I t wouldappearth a t th e o n l yi n te n ti o n aalc t o n the partof the arti stresi des thi sattenTobl et capture i n col l ages and gh . ecol orfulsketches of t he w o rl di s w o rth yo f re c o rd i n T pr of us ion real mof the i n the tri fl es up unconsi dered Au' sto l y c u K s ,el l yi s snappi ng t ion t o v is ualno i s eL: i k eS h a k e s p e a re vi sual i n the the rol eof chance he i s expl ori ng a sn dd ra w i n gosf tri vl alobj ects, ey e.I n hism inu ted e s c ri p ti o n c the di verse," and i n the w aysheerrani n th e w o rl d ,i n an " aesthetiof dem on s tra ti nhgi sc u ri o s i ty dom ain, are or happydiscoveries' to Bois,Kelly'strouvoil/e5 order.Indeed,according domnessrelatesto progressive l i ke a l ook " W hat record...must to chooses K el l y nature: ra n d om th e i r m adef ollowingc e rta i nc ri te ri ad, e s p i te with no is, a sign that symbol, likea (in look it must terms, abstractcomposition semiotic ootentialmodernist, w hi chmeansthat i t musthi dei ts i ndexi cal n any referent), o r a s s i g n ecdo n n e c ti oto m or et han an ar b i tra ry i ts vacati ngof nat ur e.y et ,and th i s i s c ru c i a li,t m u s tb e a b l eto retai nsomeof i ts ori gi nalmatter-of-fact, agenc yT.hisis a fi n e l i n e ..." si gnandrefhastakenpl ace, or a scul pture to a canvas a n ytransfer I ob l e ts ou n i q u ei s th a t,b e fo re W hatm ak es formshe w hosetri angul ar photograph w i thsai l boats t th e p a g ea, sfo r e x a mp lien a n e wspaper er entc oex ison 2-3


!)

/7 \\/,-' +try

t

T o b le t3 4 ,1 9 5 o s, lg 6 o s.ln kandpenci lonpapermountedonmatboard.ryrl zxzti n.@E l l sw orthKel ty

h a so u tl i n e do r i n a c o l l a g em d a po f V ermont uponw hl chhe hassketched. S eei ng the connecti ons K ellydr af t s i n th ew o rk so n a n dw i thp a p e r-e ach shape at homei n thew orl dat l arge, amongthehustl eandbustl e of adver ti s i n gc a mp a i g nssw, i ms u i ts an , dS no-cone tops-confi rms i ntui ti ons 0nemayhavehadaboutthe nat ur eand m e a n i nogf h i sa rt.l n T o b l eot,n eu n derstands that K el l y, pai nter, w hoi sw i del yknow nasan abstract i saboutt he " nometaphor (notransformati on), c o n c re te -" c o n c refoter h " i mme a ni ng no transcendence ano [noabstract ionj, (onlypresentation)." no representation As in hisbookprojectLineFormColor,Tobtetsiqnals the artist'sleapinto a fa s c i n a ti nnge wmo d eol f a b s tra cti on. H i suncoveri ng of the rel ati ons that l i ebehi ndhi sw ork,throught hedisclosure of how heconceives of hisabstract forms,isa precarious stepto take.Maybewith reluctance-given that t h e fo rc eo f h i sw o rkd e p e n dosn i ts retai ni ng an el ement of the i ndexi cal w i thouthavi nga recogni zable r ef er e n t-b u ta l s ow i th p l e a s u re a n dw i t, K el l yi s nowhandi ng backto us hi srepertoi re andstorage of i mages com p i l e dfro m th e s u rro u n d i nwgo rl d The . draw i ngs andw ri ti ngsi n the exhi bi ti on showhi m at pl ayw i th vision, th i n k i n go n p a p e r. B u tth e e x h i b i t i on cel ebrates not onl y25 yearsof K el l y'magni s fi cent w ork;i t al socelebr at es the 2Sthanniversary of TheDrawingCenter. Andasthe Center, at the heartof its mission, conceives of drawing a sth i n k i n go n p a p e r, I c a ni m a g i ne no bettersetof w orksfor sucha j oyousandmomentous cel ebrati on. I w i s hto o ffe rmy p ro fu s th e a n k sto E l l sw orth K el l y, w ho hasbeenso generous i n shari ng hi sverypri va t e wor k w i th u s i n th e fi rs te x h i b i ti oonf T o bl et. I am gratefulto E l l sw orth for w orki ngso cl oselw y i th uson al l a spect s project.Lastwinter,thisset of drawings of sucha marvelous wasbroughtto my attentionby Yve-Alain Bois, J o s e p hP u l i tz eJr,r.Pro fe s s o rf M odernA rt at H arvard U ni versi ty, w ho,havi ngj ust seenthem,i mm ediat ely t h o u g h to f T h eD ra w i n gC e n tear s the i dealvenuefor thei rpresentati on. I ow eour thanksto Y ve-Alain, an e x p e rto n Ke l l y 'w s o rko v e rma n yy ears, for curati ng a beauti ful exhi bi ti on andw ri ti nga fasci nati ng an dludic c a ta l o g uees s a yT.o g e th ewr i th Be nj amiH n . D . B uchl oh, P rofessor of A rt H i storyat B arnard C ol l ege, C o lum bia U n i v e rs i ty h e, p a rti c i p a tei nda p u bl i cdi al ogue at TheD raw i ng C enter, andw e areveryhonored to publish t hat e v e n t[u n fo rtu n a teEl h i m selwf asat the l astmi nuteunabl e l y ,l s w o rth to attend). W hatfol l ow si s a transcr ipt of t h e i ri n s p i recdo n v e rs a ti o n . C e tu rR rn e o r Z e e H rR Director


A COl{VERSATIO N May 13 ,20 02

l t'ng. sasmuchofal etdow nforY ve-A l ai nandme B E ilJ A nr t B uc H L o n : We l l ,th a n k s v e ry mu chforstayi andextraordi nari l y i s a ratherradi antspeaker p re sent, he si nce y o u i s n o t El l s w o rth th a t as it is fo r questi ons few heavy-handed hi m a to aski ng forw ard l o oki ng re a l l y wit t y ,v e ryfa s ta n ds h a rpI.w a s rol e. B ut he' s be Y ve-A l ai n' s that w i l l unfortunatel y d u t o f th e w a te r,but andhav i n gth e mb l a s te o v er ygo o da t th i sto o Y v E - A LA r t { B ors : We ' l sl e e i s that andw hy I w asi nvi tedto tal kw i th E l l sw orth w h y l ' m i n th i sd i a l ogue B B : I s uppostehe m a i nre a s o n come A tl os. I have R i chter' s on Gerhard do so-w orki ng to c o n ti n u e ti m e -a n d s o m e l' v es oe n o t u i te rather peopl e-that the scrapbook, many to very obvi ous b e e n h a v e m i g h t g at ac r os s o me th i nth A nd for manyarti stsi n the tw enti ethcentury. structure c t hant h e s k e tc h b o oiks,th e p a ra d i g mati of format i s a E vans, to W al ker H och H annah from t he ph o to g ra p h si cc ra p b o o ikn, p a rti c ul ar out, A nd, as i t turns al l . at y ored t a t p ro b a b lhy a sn ot beenadequatelexpl t r em e n d o ui sn te re sth that cannotbesuffi ci entstructures K e l l y 'Io s b l e ti s p re c i s eol yn eo f thesel argearchi val E lls wo rth and sketches hastradi ti onalgi l y vento preparatory ly iden ti fi ew d i thth e te rmsth a t s tu d i op r acti ce reemergence hi stori calilsynot real l yi n the postw ar s k et c h b o o kBe s . c a u scel,e a rl yh,o wi t i ss i t uated betw een i ntersecti on d the perpetual of t he a e s th e tiocf a b s tra c ti obnu t ra th erat the thresholof w ay that In the same pai nti ng and draw i ng. of a e stheti c a n d th e ph o to g ra p h a i c e s th e ti c t he repress t0 K el l y seems E l l sw orth photographi i mage, c p re s e n c e the o f thse Ric ht e r'Atl s o sc e n tra l i z e generati onal w i th thei r l ot to do has a course of c p a c t-w hi ch th e p h o to g ra p hiim it , t o d i s l o c a te seei ng on most stri ki ng I found the w hat at l arge.B ut a ,s mu c ha s w i th th e i ra p p ro ach dif f er e n c e of abstraction the types from anddifference Tqbletforthe firsttime wasits veryspecificdistance i n parti cul ar.0ne sm S urreal i automati st n i n the forti es, d u ro p e aann dA m e ri c aart t hat go v e rn e E i ntersechi stori cal the preci se s i denti fyi ng wayof a p p ro a c h i nthgi sp a rti c u l asrta tusof Tobl etias s orkso c aestheti W c. hatmakesK el l y'w a c o l l a g ea e s th e tiacn da geometriabstract t ion be tw e e n U ni ted the and i n E urope and fl fti es forti es i n the o f a b s tracti on mo me n t ty p i c a l fro m a dif f er e n t l i kei n I w oul d structures. al eatory regi ster of or n e w regi me to a p e rp e tu a o l p e n n e s s S t at esi s i ts non-composi and automati sm betw een di sti ncti on the h o w h e s e e s oar t ic u l ato r a s kYv e -Al a i n of the pai nti ng, w i th the excepti on E xpressi oni st A bstract e s p e c i a lsl yi n ce t ional i tya t th a t mo me n t, at that ti me.K el l y-i nhi sopenness w i th automati sm wor ko f Ba rn e ttN e w ma ni s, s ti l li n d l a l o gue tow ardsal eatorypri nci pl es-di stances i n hi s openness t owar d sth e B l a c kM o u n ta i ng e n e ra ti on, one that i s at l eastas of randomarti cul ati on, him s e l b f u t re i n s ti tu teasv e ryd i ffe re ntpri nci pl e bei ng cs an e o d e la n d th e famousquesti onof post-D uchampiaestheti c los et o th e re a d y ma dm from the others?" one readymade l y a t m o m e n t:" Wh a tis l t that di sti ngui shes as k eda t p re c i s e th , avai l ablthat e i s a gal axyof obj ects A nd Du c h a m p(a ' s n dKe l l y ' sa)n s w esr e e msto be:" W el lthere of i s the breakdow n i t structure, me re sketchbook to a a s o p p osed S o , re a d y m a d e s ." c ouldb e c o m e choi ce, of aestheti c cri teri a of abol i ti on systemati c of the n , e b re a k d o w n o f s e l e c ti o th t hes t ru c tu re that w oul dbea goodtopi c S o,perhaps i n Tobl et. t hat isth e g o v e rn i npgri n c i p loef K e l l y 'osperati on automati c c nti ng, automatiw c ri ti ng,automati pai t o beg i nw i th ,to s a y ", H o wd o w e d i ffe renti ate froma seemi ngli yncesi n the subj ect, dr awi n gw, i th i ts fo c u so n th e p ro c e sosf the unconsci ous as i t i s i nternal l y ned y n h o s ed e fi ni ti oni s as muchexternal ldetermi s antp ro c e sosf a rti c u l a ti ow m ot iv a te idn th e u n c o n s c i o u s ? " 4-5


ftJ ffi ; t

'.

,; f'!c

f

: n _ i ,./

i ,.1

ffiffi',:

t,, -a

[*'l

T a b lert c9 ,7 9 5 6 ,7 9 6 o s. In k, penci l ,and di rt on papermountedon mat board.15 tl z xzt i n. @ E tl sw orthK el l r

Y B : M o s to f th e d ra w i n g sd,o o dl es, sketches, cl i ppi ngs, et ceterai n thi sexhi bi ti on datefromthe yea r saf t er K e l l y 're s tu rnto th e U SfromP ari s, w herehe hadw orkedon vari ousstrategiofes non-comp osit ionth e mo d u l agr ri d ,th e monochrome, chance, andw hat I cal lthe " transfer," w hi chi s somet hing he d o e s n 'ut s ev e rymu c hl ateron. In thi s show ,how ever, one canactual l yseesucha transf eran , indexical marklToblet/09] in the form of a grid or, moreprecisely, a geometricpatternon a bike ti re th a t i s i m p ri n te o d n a pi eceof paperthat K el l yfoundi n the street-i nteresti ngl i t y, i s ar ound th e s a meti m eth a t R a uschenberg real i zed hi s Ii re P ri ntbyrol l i nga ti reon a pi eceof canvas ( t he o n l yd i ffe re n cbee tw e en K el l y'and s R auschenberg' s i s that K el l y'iss a foundobj ect). i mages Butf or th e m o s tp a rtth e g ri d ,the monochrome, the transfer, andthe obsessi on pri nciplesw i th al eatory th e s ea ren o t th i n g sth at arereal l ydomi nanti n mostof the i moge5the greatmaj ori tyof which datefrom the mid-fiftiesto the earlysixties. Kellywaslessinvolvedin thoseconcepts because he w a si n th e g ri po f a n o therone:that of " shape" -he w antedto i magi ne or to fi ndsi ngl e, non- divida b l ee n ti ti e th s a t y o ucoul drecogni ze asyoudo a l ogo.S hapes that w erespeci fi c, yet t hat uni que, c o u l db e rep e a te d a t a n yscal e, i n anycol orandmateri alw, i thoutl osi ngthei ri denti ty. l t sti llhast o d o w i th th e i d e ao f n o n -composi ti on, but i ndi rectl y: Thei deai s that you don' tdi vi dea l og o,it 'sa to ta lg i v e nY. o un e v e begi r nto j udgepart-to-part rel ati onshiand ps soon (thati s preci selwhy y t he w o rl do f a d v e rti s i nbga nksso muchon them).N otethat K el l yw asi nterested i n thi s i deaof t he " w h o l ei ma g e ," th o u g hh e di d not usethi sl anguage at the ti me,qui tea few yearsbeforei t b ecam e a c o mmo nc o n c e rni n t he N ewY orkart w orl d.B uttherei s somethi ng moreto i t: W henK e r r was y d o o d l i n gw, h e nh e w a scl i ppi ngout new spapers, he w asl essi nterested i n automati sm and m or e i n te re s teidn d e c o n textual i zatifion, ndi ngrecogni zabl e shapes and extracti ng them.l t was n0t a u to m a ti s m e x, a c tl yF. orhi m at the ti me,therew asno di fference betw een somethi ng he doodled o n a p i e c eo f p a p e rw hi l eon the phone,a strangetri angl ethat he foundi n a photogra ph of a p ri e s t'astti reo, r s o m e t hi ng he pi cked up i n thestreet-asl ongasi t w asextractabland e hada shape th a tw o u l db ere c o g n i zed or percei ved assomethi ng total l yuni que, asa ki ndof embl em. B utI t hink h e d i d c o meto th i s p arti cul ar i deaaftera seri es of di sappoi ntments w i th the possi bi l i o tyf pur e a u to ma ti s m. Ve rye a rl yon,soonafterhe arri vedi n P ari s, he experi mented w i th automatidr c awing w i th h i sfri e n dR a l p hC o burn, onl yto eventual lreal y i ze i t w asal mosti mpossi blBe.ecause yo ucan-


A s soonasyou makeonemarkon a pi eceof l f easi l y. not not c o n tro ly, o u c a n n ovt o i dy o u rs e that by the fi rst.S o,hi sbel i efat the ti mew asthat,though o n ei s a l re a dcyo n tro l l ed papert ,h e s e c o n d acts,i t w asreal l ymore andconsci ous choi ces di d i nvol ve c e rta i n l y s h a p e s t r y ingt o fi n d re a d y ma d e n a na n y th i n g ' an ac tof re c o g n i ti oth I w oul dsayhe K el l y'si s tuati on, " o u l db e my q u e s ti o nl f. onew antsto hi stori ci ze B B: " Rec ognit ioonf w h a t? w of bi omorbankruptcy thesi mul taneous is par tof th a t g e n e ra ti oonf a b s tra catrti stsw ho recogni ze A rti stsat post-' 45 abstracti on' of c sa cl assimoment , phis man dg e o me triacb s tra c ti oInm . e a nthat' few er even h e a don-andveryfew arti stshavedoneso and s i s p ro b l e m t hat t im ee i th e ra d d re sth and that bothbi omorphi sm hav es uc c e e d ei ndth e w a yth a t K e l l yd o e s-ortheyj ust try to pretend a thi rd i nto both crossbreeds and i nterrel ates K el l y B ut mo d el s. v i a b l e a re s ti l l geom e triacb s tra c ti o n of bi ogeometri ci zati on the total and g e o metri abstracti c on o f t er m ,wh l c hi sth eto ta le ro ti c i z a ti n w hatcomesout ts because tri ck,so to speak, r b b i t-f rom-the-hat T h i si s a v e ryp e c u l i ara m or phi s m. gi venthe anti ci pated, been have not coul d that one o f a b s tra c ti on, t he t ot a l l yre n e w e cdre d i b i l i ty is different so strikingly work Kelly's makes in the fortiesandfifties.And what stateof abstraction of a si gn the shape to extract t he f ac tth a t h ea d d re s s ethda tq u e s ti o nW. henyousai dK el l yi stryi ng a tentherew asof course structure, y cul ated, y u n do, r randomlarti f r omt hi smo reo r l e s sra n d o mlfo i an merel y ndusy a s k ": W hendoesa geometrii cmagebecome t e l f,n a me l to s ionin t h a ts ta te me ni ts by sayi ng l ' m tryi ngto address l y that i s the standard o tg o ?I" m e a np re c i s ethat t r ialadv e rti s e m el n i n the geometri abstracti c on of i nstrumental i zatl on the a b o u t y o u re c o g n i z e h a v e to t hat wh a t total the i ndi cated and therefore cul ture, of desi gn a p p aratus p a rt l a rg e r o f a f if t iesisth a t i t b e c a m e been i t had as geometri abstracti c on of aspi rati ons u t opi an th e t m a i n ta i n f ut ilit yo f a n ya tte m p to vi sual contai nment of l anguage a had become on . s n dth i rti e sAbstracti ar t ic ula teidn th e tw e n ti e a you have S o the ti me. al l opposes c w i th i nt he geometristructure l a t Ke l l y 'osrg a n i c i ty andc on troth and i ntensi ty sexual i zed geometri cito ty anal most , a ti t s t retches t hist en s i o ni n e v e rys i n g l ed e ta i lth i s geometri c control :That one i nto an obj ectof o f a b s tracti on r igidif i eth s e b i o mo rp h isctru c tu re w ork andthatgi veshi sabstract operati on s e l l v 'asb s tra c ti oann extraordi nary dim ens i oth n a t ma k e K elsewhowas everybody Whereas andprecision. authenticity historical of the fiftiesits extraordinary j ust correct me Let j u st now . i rrel evant l ooks total l y l pouse] ti me a t th a t wor k in ga l o n gth e s el i n e s to artistsof the fifties people. l'm reallyreferring andsurprised sinceI seemto haveshocked myself, S o,I shoul d geometri abstracti c on. of order the l Vh otri e dto mai ntai n r s a rew ands ixti e lsi k eV i c to Va the i demai ntai ni ng at " e v e ry b o d y to attempts referri ng I am real l y e l se." not bea sg e n e raalss a y i n g the l atefi fti esandsi xti es. n ro u g h out ologyof g e o m e triacb s tra c ti oth from the verystart'betw een of di sti ncti ons, y B : I t hinkt hat y o u ' rec o mp l e te lriyg h tto m a k eth e strongest e w asnot real l yseenat theti me.P eoplthought K ellyan dg e o m e triacb s tra c ti obnu, ty o u rdi sti ncti on thi samazal l P ari s w i th from returned K el l y w hen e x ampl e, F o r g e o m e tri c a b s tra c ti o n i s t. he wasa good very been onl y he had good, that but w as very he th a t h i m to l d inglypo w e rfuwl o rk ,C a l d e r get a thi ckyears; had to he good for ten very be had to H e f or f iv ey e a rsa n dth a t w a s n ' et n o u g h . go K el l y' s see and hi m to tel l B arr to A l fred to day r ro teth e same s sa,l d ew er s k in .Bu t n e v e rth e l e C K el ly course of hi m, and to somethi ng . u tB a rrw a sb u s ya n dtol d K el l yto bri ng s t udioi n N e wYo rkB " B arr, you have he sai d, proud and man, didn' tw a n tto b ri n ga n y th i n gh,ew a sa b i tyoung,an angry, Mi l l er,B arr' sri ghtarmat Mol V l A ' but fi nal l yD orothy T h e rew a sa s ta l e mate, t o c om eto my s tu d i o ." c onv in c eK d e l l yto c o m ea n d b ri n gl i ttl ethi ngsfor B arrto see.A nd w henB arrsaw w hat K el l y he hadbeen br oughto t s h a re -ag o o da s s o rtm e nat,b outsi xw orksthat real l yshow edeverythi ng Mondri an' of a fol l ow er w as K el l y that thought g ri d , e tc .-he th e doing- th e m o n o c h ro me s , K el l yi n i ncl ude to managed she go 1959 i n and not l et w o u l d I nt er e s ti n gel yn o u g hD, o ro th yM i l l e r w onpai nti ngs. l often hi s B l ack w i th famous S tel l a thwe,o n eth a t made herS x te e nA m e ri c o n s s h o hard, earl y, of the some ti me at that show n i f he had s n K e l l y 'career derwh a tw o u l dh a v eh a p p e n ei d mi B arr' s syears case, In any before. onl ya few panelB s a rrh a dn e g l i g e n tdi l ysmi ssed m onoc n ro me Mi chel w ay the c onc e p ttoonf K e l l ya s a fo l l o w e ro f Mondri anw as not uni que.Thi si s exactl y 6-7


T a b le rt c5 , r 9 6 o s.Co lla g et5 . tf z x zt i n. O El l sw orthK el ty

Se u p h osrp o k ea b o u tK e l l yat the ti meof hi sfi rst(and,for a l ongti me,onl y)showi n P ari si n 1951. B u t Ke l l yo f c o u rs e h a dn othi ngto do w i thol d,Mondri an-l i ke i deasaboutthe organi zati on of com p o s i ti o nasc tu a l l yb e i n gmodel sof soci ety . did or the uni verse-that w asreal l ynot hl sprobl emHe h a v ea, t th i sti me ,a k i n dof touchi ngnai vete aboutanonymi ty, abouttryi ngto fi nd a w orkof ar t th a t w a sa n o n y m o uw s ,hi chw oul dhel pto get aw ayfromthe structure or the l nsti tuti on of a r t ,of th e g a l l e ryo,f th e mu s e um-ofthe art w orl d,basi cal lly. t w assomethi ng that he spokea l ot about i n th o s ev e rye a rl yy e a r s. H ehada ki ndof nostal gifor a the Mi ddl eA ges, w henpeopl e w ereanonym o u sa n da l l o f th a t,b u t I thi nkthat assoonashe got backto N ewY ork,he real i zed that th iswas j u v e n i l i aa,n dth a t a n o nymi ty w asnot somethi ng that w aseasi l yobtai ned andthat the mor eyou try th e l e s sy o us u c c e e d: Indeed, ashe l i kesto j oke,therei s nothi ngmorerecogni zabl e an ear ly than Ke l l yB. u ty e t th i sa l l e x p ressed goalof hi s,w hi chw asto breakdow nthe tradit ionof an i mportant a b s tra cat rt-to b re a kd ow nthe typi calnoti onof a composi ti on, of a w el l -bal anced obj ectThis . is st " Y ouput somet hing th e k i n do f Eu ro p e apno st-cubiabstracti on aboutw hi chS tel l aw oul di roni ze, i n a c o rn e ar n dy o u b a l a nce i t w i thsomethi ng el sei n the othercorner." C ertai nlthi y sw asho wt he S a l o nd e sR e a l i t !s N o u vel l es i n P ari soperated, andK el l yfoundi t trul yacademiand c al mosrepelt geometri cal l a n t.In d e e di f, h ea b a n doned hi srecti l i near, structures i n favorof w hatyoucal lth e biomo rp h l ci t, m i g h th a v eb eenbecause hefel t that geometry w ashel dhostage by arti stsw hosewor k h e d i s l i k e dF.u rth e rmore, as l sai d, he w asal soi nterested at that ti me i n the i deaof the found s h a p e -a n d h e d i s c o v e red that,you knowfi, ndi nga rectanglies not that i nteresti ng, becausteher e a res o ma n yo f th e me v eryw here i n the man-made, urbanenvi ronment.

B B : T h e re ' s a n o th e rd i m e n s i o nw hi chl fi ndextraordi nari l yi ntri gui ngi nTobl etandw hi chlalsof indinRicht er ' A fl o s U . u s tto re mi n dth oseof you w ho mi ghtnot remember the datesoffhand:R i chter'At s losis n o t o ffi c i a l ldy e fi n e du n ti l 1968andnot show nbefore1972,eventhoughthe accumul ati oonf t he ma te ri adl a te sfro mth e e arl ysi xti es.) S o,i f onew antsto establ i sh a comparati ve readi ng, whichI w o u l dn o t n e c e s s a risluyggest, onecoul dsaythat bothw orksarti cul ate the i ncreasi ng aw areness of a n u tte ri n a b i l i ty to d e fi nethe cri teri aof w hatqual i fi es as,of w hati s el i gi bl for e the const r uct ion o f, a w o rko f a rt-to o p enthe fi el dof arti sti cchoi ces i n that w ay.


and he hadto yB: lt ' sint er es ti n Io H e hadmovedto the countrysi de g . b l e tw a sm a d ea ro u n d1 9 7 3by K el l y. ti mei n four or In fact i t w asthe second put hiss tu ffi n o rd e r,to re o rg a n i zhei sp ast,so to speak. Thefi rstti mew asaround1968,w henheopened f iv ey ea rsth a t h ew a sfa c e dw i thth i sp redi cament. w asw ri ti nghi sbi gbookon hi m,so hesawagai n C opl ans s ,h e n s rJ o h nC o p l a n w s om eo f h i sc ra te fo Thenhe movedto the counfor tw entyyears. t all t he w o rkh e ' dd o n ei n Pa ri sth a t h e h adn' seen w asa bi gboxfi l l ed . w i ththi svastmassof materi alThere a n dfo u n dh e h a dto d o s o m e th ing t r y s id e He enoughor goodenoughto keepi n hi ssketchbooks. wit h t h i n g sh e h a dn o t j u d g e di n te re s ti ng lf he hastwentydooveryselective. things,but he'susually wherehe pastes haslotsof sketchbooks the onethat hethi nksi s goi ngto dlest ha t m i g h tb eo f i n te re sht,e o n l yp u tsonei n hi ssketchbook, t that hadn' gone thi ngsl n thoseboxes B.u tth e rew e rel otsof i nteresti ng i n tos o me th i n g t r ans f o rm " W el l , goi ng do w i th to I w hat am he thought, A nd o f m ateri al . A h u g e a m o u n t int ot hes k e tc h b o o k s : that 1973, thi s ti me, i t' s at Thus somethi ng." to do s o I have N o , it ?A m I g o i n gto th ro wi t a w a y ? those puts on everything he the task, to much thought tryingnot to devotetoo tediously, somewhat W henhe t i n ka b o u tit agai n,or veryIi ttl e.S 0,you' reri ght,B enj ami n. boar d sA.n dth e nh e d o e s n 'th it, but "near not exactly were Thatis,they misses." thosethingsto me he calledthem firstdescribed you fi rst drafts? do w i th , e yw e ren o t b a de n oughto bethrow naw ay.W hatdo on t he o th e rh a n dth hi m of the fi rsti dea,the momenthe Theyremi nded rel a sons: He k ep tth e mp a rtl yfo r s e n ti me n ta g .n dth e rea remanyi deasi n thosenotesthat he noww antsto do.W hen t houg h a t b o u ts o m e th i n A he sai d,l ooki ngat somehe andI w e rel o o k i n ga t th e l o b l e tsw, h ichhe hadn' tl ookedat for years, get l ' l l do i t now ..." i t. Maybe to do l di dn' t " l and to d o th a tth i n g, w a n te d t hing, a l w a y s B B : B utt her eis t h a t d i m e n s i oonf w h a ty o uw o u l dcal lthe i nfi ni tepermutati on. Y B : Exactly. of an i nfi ni teperthat i f the potenti al e v i d e nitn o th e ra b s tra cpt a i n ti n go f that generati on B B : lt bec om es ly to remai nhi stori calcredy m ut at i o ni s n o t o p e ra ti v ae b, s tra c ti owni ll not besuffi ci entldecentered pushes the threshol d i t al w ays w ork-that K el l y' s l n e lement i mp o rta n t a v e ry I th a t' s ible.S o , th i n k sel ecti on of the the openness or of deci si on-maki ng, c ri teri a o f th e f ur t he r,th a t th e o p e n n e s s from i n the w orkas w el l .I thi nkthat the pai nti ngs pr oc e sth s a t w e s e ei n th e T o b l e t,iosp e rati ve l .e. structure, most ri gorous of the l yi th th e dual i tyor si mul tanei ty 1951t o 1 9 5 3a l l d e a lp re c i s ew t0 w i th an openness possi bl e, combi ned verti cal stri ati on t he gri do r th e m o s tm e c h a n i c aal lpy p l i ed pri nci pl es of choi ce, of the utteral eatory t he c o n c e pot f th e u tte r i n fi n i tyo f u tt er randomness, ng c si on-makiprocess. the aesthetideci th a t p re d etermi nes pointi n gto a n e x te rn asly s te m or colorsY B : Predetermined or i ntuaffi ni ty, scal eratherthani ndi vi dual , u sethe i ndustri al B B : W ell,f or ex a mp l ei n, h i sc h o i c eo f c o l o rsto sucha w here others are many There exampl e. one c l a ti o n shi p...That' s it ion,o r p re fe re n coer,o rg a n i re put in correlation. it process, whether to the decision-making preexisting systemgoverns external s somey B : Y eah,t his no ti o no f th e p o s s i b lpero l i fe ra ti on, that he di d not qui te...l t'n0t I thi nk,i s somethi ng t hingth a t h e w a sc o n s c l o uosf a t th e ti m e. B B : Hewasnot ? y B : Not at t heti me .l th i n k i ts o rto fg ra d u a l l y d aw nedonhi mthatthi ngsdi dn' tstop.H ew oul dseeshapes B ut I don' tthi nkhe possi blextensi e on. e that hadendl ess andit w o u l db eth i sk i n do f i mme n stext w asa verytedi ous w hi ch l yhenhe w asmounti ngthe w orks, r ealiz eidt a t fi rs t.L a te ro n ,e s p e c i a lw That' s t as kev e nth o u g hh e h a ds o m e o nhee l p i nghi m,hedi dn' tw antto do a veryneatarrangement. gri d form' in a t mthe A tl os,w hi chi s muchmoreorgani zed, onet h i n gth a t i s s l i g h tl yd i ffe re nfro 8-9


Ke l l yw a n te dto l e a v ean openness, to al l owfor the ci rcul ati on betw een vari ous trai nsof th ought . Ihe Tobletis alsovery,veryunchronological, the boardsthemselves. Therearedrawings from 1955, ' 6 2 ,a n d ' 7 1a l lo n o n eboard. I mean,i t show sa compl ete Iackof i nterest for poorart hi storians like u s ,a n dth i si d e ath a tth erei sa constant permeabi l iof tythi ngs-thati s,l thi nk,w hati nterest ed him i n p o te n ti a l liyn fi n i tee xtensi on. A nd al so,l thi nk that' sw hy he sw i tched tow ardsmoreso - called o rg a n i c a l cl yu rv e ds h a pes, si mpl ybecause theyare moreeasi l yreadabl e. B ut R i chter'A s t loswas e x h l b i teidn ' 7 2 ,' 7 3 ,s o therei s a ki ndof verystrongsi mul taneithere. ty A nd i t' sthe samea r chive s tru c tu rei n, m a n yw a y s.B ut R i chter'A s tl osi s organi zed-geometri cal forl y, exampl e-and seem s mu c hm o red e te rmi n ed by chronol ogy. I don' tknow I' , d be i nterested i n the w ayyou perceive t he d i ffe re n c Ieth . ougha t lot aboutyouw henI w orkedon thesethi nqs. B B: W h a tI s ti l lfi n dv e ryd i ffi c u lto t address, i n the di scussi on of bothR i chter'Astl osand K el l y'lsobl eqis how onewouldapproach thoseexternally determining systems with whichthe drawings, the sketch, the collage, andthe foundobjectestablish a dialogue. lt's not,as we agree, an internalsystem, nor is it automatism, dependent on a notionof the unconscious, nora subjective systemnoranyotherdefinitionof the unconscious you mightwantto introduce. lt'snot a preestablished system of signs, either. It'snotaddressing a verynarrowly defined setof geometric models thewayclassic Modernist abstraction hadapproached it. Whatwe have-bycontrast-is a plethora of types, objecttypes, signtypes,letter types.One aspectthat is particularly interesting to me aboutthe Kellydesigns hereis how frequentlythe geometric drawingor thesketchslipsintoa letterform.Thereareof coursepaintings like NewYork,NewYork, whichis oneof Kelly's mostextraordinary paintings of that period, oneof Kelly's m a n yb re a k th ro um g ho m ents. H erei sa pai nter w hopai nts a bl ack-and-w hipai te nti ng at themom ent o f th e h i g h e s td ra m abofl ack-and-w hi teathl eti cgestural i tyi ndeKandFranzK ooni ng l i nea ndcom es backwith what lookslikea stenciled letterform that says"NewYork,NewYork."I thinkit is 1956very shortlyafterKelly's returnto NewYork.Kellymakesthe letterthe matrixof abstraction within w h i c ha l ld ra w i n ga,l lg e stures, al l pi ctori al operati ons arecompl etelcontrol y l ed andcontai neadspictorialdesign. Thisisasextraordinary a stepasJasper Johns's workof theverysamemomentisandyou seeit comingin thesedrawings all the way.Kellyshiftsveryquicklyfromsomething that lookslikea proto-pornographic sketchandswitches it to suddenlv become the letter,,y." Y B : Whenhe wantedto find logoshapes, it wasprecisely because of thoseswitches, of the waythevcouldbe tra n s l a teidn to a n y th i ng. I remember the fi rstti me I di scovered that a l ot of K el l y'w s orkst hat I th o u g h tw e rep u rea b s tracti ons-l don' tl i kethi sw ord," pure," but that' sthe w ay l thoughtat t he ti me ,l ' m ta l k i n ga b o u ta l ongti meago-w erenot,i n fact,pureabstracti ons at al l .Thi sw aswhenI re a dth e C o p l a nasrti c lei n A rtforum,i n the S ummer1969i ssue, and then,especi al lhi y,sAbr am s m o n o g ra pth h a t a p p e a red tw o yearsl ater.l w as absol utelfuri y ous, you know l.thought:" Tr ait or ! W h a ti s th i sth i n g ?An " di n fact i n manyw aysa l ot of cri ti csafterthat havemi sunderstood Kelly's w o rka sb e i n gs o m ek i n dof di sti l l ati on or abstracti on. That' snot w hathe i s doi ng.H e' snottry ingt o tra n s fo rm a l a n d s c a pi netoan abstract pai nti ng. H ehasno i nterest w hatsoever i n tryi nqto do t hat . B B: T h a t' sn o t w h a tI' ms a y i n g . Y B: 0 f c o u rs eI ,k n o wth a t' sn o t w hatyou' resayi ng. l t' ssomethi ng that cri ti cssayveryoftenandi t' soneof th e re a s o nhse i s s o re l uctant to showhi sphotographs. P eoplhave e a tendency to saythe paint ing c o me sfro mth e p h o to g raph, but the si tuati on i s actual l the y compl ete reverse. Y ouknowhe , walks i n th e c o u n try s i daen ds uddenlhe y seessomethi ng that remi nds hi mof oneof hi spai nti ngs a ndhe takesa photograph. lt's a very,veryself-centered understanding of the roleof photography, but th a t' sw h a t h a p p e n And s . he doesn'at t al l w antpeopl eto thi nkthat he w oul dw antto dl s t illt he w o rl d -a si f h e w e res o m eki ndof i deal i st arti stw anti ngto di sti l the l di rti ness of the w orldint o s o m e th i nth g a t w o u l db e purefragments. l t i s not at al l how he thi nks.H e i s i nterested i n let t er s beingtransformed into abstract shapes, cubes.


l t i s al w aysw i thi n external i ty. B B : B utt her eis so me th i nygo u c o u l dc a l l ,fo r l a c kof a betterterm,a l i bi di nal i s not l i kei n bi omorphi sm l t appeari ng. i s suddenl y energy th a t th i s s h a p e s d e fi n e d t hes eex te rn a l l y he real l ymovedaw ay w hi l e, though for a to K el l y i m p ortant w e re v e ry s inc eM i ro -b o tho f w h i c h the morphol ogy, the structure, that the had been sti l l th e a s s u mpti on f r omt h e m.In b i o mo rp h i s m, i ntenl i bi di nal subj ect' s i ndi vi dual aredri venby the th, e p r ocess , e o p e ra ti o n des ignt h , e d ra w i n gth from ratherthandri venor ori gi nati ng to beexternal a p p ears s , a ts tru c tu re s it y . . . lKe n l l y 'psa i n ti n g th wit hinth e s u b i e c t. YB r Y es , pr ec is e l y . s denti n al mostal l i ts pagesthat l obl efpoi ntsto that B B : W hic his a v e ryp e c u l i asrte pa s w e l l .l t s e e m evi i n the contextof K el l yi n the contextof JohnC age, s i tu ates T.h a tfa c ta l o n e gener a ti o ndails ta n c e so thani n the conmuch more Tw ombl y, of C y i n th e context n d, o f c o u rs e RobertR a u s c h e n b earg E ven onw ards. of Mondri an movement n mth e hi ghModerni st t ex t of t h e l e g a c i eosf a b s tra c ti ofro geometri c abstracti on andw i th t houghw h a ti s s o p e rp l e x i ni sgth a t Ke l l ysti l lbattl edw i th Mati sse Thi sw asreal l ynot the di al ogue of t he P a ri s i akni n da n ds ti l ltri e dto re l a teto Mi roat that moment. thei rredefi ni that determi ned fi gures n d, T w o m b lhy adw i th E uropean t hat J o h n sR, a u s c h e n b earg t ion of p a i n ti n gi n th e l a tefi fti e s . e e yd i d n ' tk n o wmu c ha b o u ti t. Y B : W ell,bec austh e e yd i d n ' tl i v eth e rel.s th a t th e si mpl eexpl anati on? . ec au sth B B : RightB E xpressi oni sm A bstract y B : W ell,t hat ' spa rto f i t. I th i n k fo y that generati on, andTw ombland , r R a u s c h e n b erg very much,and Black alwaysadmiredAbstractExpressionism was very present.Rauschenberg Heknew for bothof them.Butthat didn'texistfor Kelly. ntalismwasverypresent Mountainexperime hadbeenfoundhisaesthetic AbstractExpressionism, nothingaboutit. Bythe time he encountered that you couldbe a youngambitious ed in, and shapedby,his yearsin Paris.lt's hardto believe peri od know nothi ngof A b E x,but i t' strue:K el l y p o s t w ar and A m er i c apna i n teirn th e i m m e d i a te (though capitaldid not of coursethe French provincial Paris Bostonto wentstraightfromprovincial geometri c shape that of the f a t w a y ).S o ,I th i n ky o uc o ul dsaythatthi ssexual i zati on t hinkof i ts e l th geometric in abstraction of is,in part,an answerto the academization quiteoftenin Toblet happens tochi mw henhearri ved y osyncrati thatw ascompl eteli di E ur op eB.u ti t w a sa l s oo f c o u rs seo me th i ng s ork.H e' stol dme to hi sP ariw howthi sconnected her e.I a l s oth i n ki t to o kh i ma w h i l eto u n derstand fromtheyearsi n P ari s, w orkasa bi grupture m anym , a n yti m e sth a ta t fi rs th es a wh i se arl yA meri can hi sfi rstfi veyearsi n betw een y theconnecti on andit ' so n l y l,th i n k ,l a te rth a t h eg ra d u al lunderstood a few curvedcolexcept images in Paris, no biomorphic are Because there after. andwhathedid Paris 1951 for hi sappl i cai n he desl gned book Form C ol or-a w i th l i ne lagest h a t h e m a d ei n c o n n e c ti o n n i t i s now avai l abli e (n e e dl ess i t w as rej ected-fortunatel y to say ml l o w s h i p t ion f or a Gu g g e n h e ife i n l ater on, l t' s onl y edi ti on). here,veryaffordabl e a n d ,i f I ma yd o s o m epubl i ci ty a v er yh a n d s o me best know thi ngs.S o,the K el l ythat w e monochrome , rench 1965,t h a t h e c a m eb a c kto h i sh a rd F " bi omorphiw c"orkw i tha l essorgani c, hi smi d-fi fti es 5 l l yb, l e n di ng y e p o s t-1 9 6Ke t odayis a c tu a l lth i n 1973,w henal l of K el l y' s c Therei s a specl fimoment, s e c u rve. m or eg e o me triactti tu d eto w a rd th attemptsbefore(as,for exampleToblet80, aresomesporadic curvesbecomepartsof circles-there andtheygrow B uttheseareexcepti ons, p a nel s i n 1956). done p a i n ti n g i n th re e fo r a whic hi s a d ra ft part never agai nuseda curve H e of a ci rcl e: are Kel l y' curves s a l l o f in num b eur n ti l1 9 7 3A. fte r1 9 7 3 , are usual lnot y perhi s curves si nce p a rt E speci al l y t hatwa s n ' t o f a c i rc l ea,n dth a t' sre a l l yi nteresti ng. ge say that One could purely ometric arcs. theyare ceivedthat way-mostof thetimeyoudon'trealize voi ds the opposoc," to speak-he in m ak i n gre g u l asrh a p elso o ka si f th e yw e rei rregul ar-" bi omorphi . s I sai d,i t di d i t very,veryw el l A s it ionb e tw e e th n e g e o m e triacn dth e b odyor at l easti nternal i zes ri g h ta w a Yth , ough. not ha p p e n 10 . 1 1


fl;

;*; 4

e * 't-J", t- t .f\,t*"tGl ,, tu,-,,L- ,r,A ,.. r.a

,:

4;u+A .

,l*/

Toblet80, 1955-56.Ink and pencilon papermountedon mat board.15rf z x zt in. O Etlsworth Kellv

B B : l t' sv e ryi n te re s ti nth g a t D o n al d Judd,for exampl e, qui tenotori ouslsai y dthat the i dealscul pture would b ea s y n th e sbi se tw e eth c the organiand n egeometriand yet c at thesameti mehe,asw i thso many o th e rp e o p l e i n th a tg en erati on of Mi ni mal i sts, real l yhada hardti me,notto saya realprobl emwr , trt E l l s w o rth K e l l y0.n th eo thersi de,oneof thequesti ons I w oul dhavel i kedto askE l l sw orth. butsr nce y o uk n o wh i mv e ryw e l l y, oucanprobablansw y er i t: H owdi d K el l yhandl ehi specul i ar i sol ati ofnr om th e C a g es c h o ool f a rti sts-R auschenberg, Johns, andTw ombl y, i n parti cul ar-w i th w homhe wasln s o m a n yw a y sh i s to ri c alassoci ly ated? A fteral l ,he w ascertai nlas y muchof a post-C agean ast hey w e rea, n dy e t w h e nh ec o mesbackfromP ari he s i s not recogni zed bythemasoneof thei rs. l t would b e v e ryi n te re s ti nto g u nderstand w hetherthe bl ockage ori gi nated i n hi scommi tment to revising a n dre w o rk i nth g e l e g a c of y Moderni st geometriabstracti c on or w hetheri t i s i ni ti al ljyust hi sphysi c a la b s e n cth e a t a l i e n a tes hi mfromthe group.B utw henhe comesbackhe doesn'become t visible a sth e i n te g rafil g u reo f the post-C agean aesthetithat c now he hasbecome for us. Y B : We l lh, e m e tC a g ev,e ryb ri e fl yw, henC agew asi n P ari for s a shorttri p.H eshow ed hi mw hathew asdoing. It w a sa t th e b e g i n n i nogf K el l y'P s ari syears, andhi saesthetiwc asnot compl eteldevel y opeAnd d. a fe w m o n th sl a te rh e s e ntC agephotographs, andC agew asvery,verysupporti ve. K el l yw asver y y o u n g ,h e w a si n h i s tw enti es. B ut,w henhe camebackto the U S ,C agetol d hi m to go andsee R a u s c h e n b earg , R a u s chenberg nd at the ti me w asal ready doi nghi s C ombi nes and I don' tknow e x a c tl yw h y th e yn e v e r eal l yreconnected. K el l yhadconti nued to devel op hi s i deasw i thoutt he s u p p o rto r i n te rv e n ti oof n C age.l t' strue that there' a s l ot that i s veryC agean i n hi sw ork,i n his n o ti o no f th eo p e n n e stos randomness, ty basi calfil yndi ngsomethi ng the possi bi l iof anyw he re .And C a g ew a si n d e e vd e ryi mportant for K el l yeventhoughtheymetsobri efl y. B ecause C agesai d," yeah, g o o n .T h i si s g o o d C . o n ti nue." Y ouknow", Goon,thi si s val i d.Y ou' reri ght."Thei ssueof val i dat ion i sa l s op a rto f th e w o n d e rful fragi l i ty of the l obl efw orksbecause youcanseethe questi on i salways th e re ": l si t 0 K to d o s o methi ng l i kethat?"A l mostal lof thesepl ateshavethi ski ndof tentati v eness th a t i s s o fre s hw , h i c hI th i nki s w hatseduced me i mmedi atelwyhenI sawthem.N ow ,w hatI can te l ly o u a b o u tN 4 i n i ma l i sm i s that i t w asa veryantagoni stirel c ati onshiJudd p. hadbeenextre m ely n a s tyi n h i sre v i e w si n, p arti cul ar i n hi srevi ewof a groupshowat the GreenGal l ery i n 1963,wner e


panel real s i n 1956aftera col i zed K ellyw a ss h o w i n gGo z o ,ap a i n ti n gma deof four monochrome " a l aterthat i t w asnot,that he si mlagem a d ei n P a ri si n 1 9 5 2J. u d dc a l l e di t fl uke."Juddreal i zed years, and he thoughti t w asa fl ukebecause plv did n o t k n o ww h a t Ke l l yh a dd o n ei n the French l i kethat'A nd or somethi ng of Mi ni mal i sm he t ho u g h tK e l l yw a stry i n gto j u mpo n the bandw agon B utJuddnever Juddfor thi s remark. K ellyt o o kth a t v e rymu c hto h e a rta n d real l yneverforgave d me w henI askedhi mabouti t, but of courseI don' tneedto be apolo g i z eedi th e r.H ea p o l o g i z eto or that he i s the sameas of Mi ni mal i sm s a y th a t Ke l lyi s a precursor apolo g i z eto d . l t' s n o t to w hat I cal lthe l ogo,that i s for exampl e, shape, bu M inim a l i s m , t th e n o ti o no f th e n o n arti cul ated an ide ath a t th e ys h a rev e ryc l e a rl y ' now ...? w e shoul dtakesomequesti ons B B : W ell,s inc ew e ' v eb e e nta l k i n gfo r m o reth a na n hour,perhaps

Q&A andY oungerman? i pi th R o b ertIndi ana s l a ti o n s hw Q: Couldy ou dis c u sKs e l l y 're Theyw ereal w ays y B : J ac kY oung e rm awna sc e rta i n lth that K el l ysawal mostdai l yi n P ari s. n nter y eAme ri c apai and for y ereveryi mportant oneanother, t oget h ear n dw o rk i n gto g e th ear n da l lth at.Theycertai nlw vei but theyw erew orki ngi n the same n W el l not , verysi mi l ar, at s om ep o i n tth e yw e rev e rys i mi l a r. I don' tqui teknowthedatesof Y oungerman' s f or a b ri e fp e ri o da n dth e nI th i n kth e yre al l ydeparted. i n somew ay, moreandmoreaustere tendsto become s wor k .B u t I k n o wa t s o m ep o i n tKe l l y 'work you tradi ti onal thi s ol der, w ant to use i f baroque, more b e c o mes th e c o n tra ry , o n andY o u n g e rm a n , mi nd w aybefore. i n K el l y' s formed l ogo w as the i dea of w h o l e I th i n k th e adjec ti v As e . fo r In d i a n a , in i nterest of an el ement i nterests, i n K el l y' s P op of 0f c ou rs ey,o uc o u l ds a yth a tth e re 'as n e l ement so forth i mages and very fl at he uses w ay c er t a i nty p e so f i n d u s tri ac lo l o rsa n da l l t hat.A ndso,the I w oul dsay on. al B utI thi nki t' sa fai rl ysuperfi ciconnecti is not c o mp l e te u l yn c o n n e c tetod In d i a na. I don' tq u i tek n o wh o w I c o u l dre l a teth em. w hyI thi nk 0nereason y to w hatw esai dbefore. B B : T her eisa pa rti aal n s w eirn w h a tI w o u l dl i k eto qui ckl add and s orki n a stateof germi nati on i s that i t show sK el l y'w x h i b i tion I oble ti s s u c ha n e x tra o rd i n aerV ons c to aesthetiquesti y orei n tunew i ththeactualapproach pr oc e sth s a t i n m a n yw a y si s i n fi n i te l m stages that these there are i s accompl i shed, obj ect m o n umental p a i n ti n g a s a a at t ha t ti m e .Be fo re thanto a pictoaesthetlc in IobletAndtheyareso muchcloserto a post-Cagean aredocumented I feel the samew ay schi sm. that S o Iobl efarti cul ates r ialae s th e tiocf l a te -Mo d e rn iasbt s tra cti on. R i chter'most s i s for me A tl os but i n a sense statement, s o sI .k n o wth i si sa s trange abou tR i c h te r'Atl of the authori ty a to formul ate im 0o rta nwt o rkb e c a u siet i s th e w o rki n w hi chthe actuali nabi l i ty of K el l y' s A ndthat' sw hatthe radl cal i ty evi dence. def in i ti v p e a i n ti n gi s c o n te s tewd i th th e greatest takendownat dismantled, of abstraction Iobletentailsas well.Hereyou havethe actualconditions in its of the readymade differential of thetechnological everystep;hereyou havetheactualcondition of commercial you actual conditions have the here step; in every incorporated impacton abstraction into the Hereyou haveall that incorporated abstraction. designand its impacton late Modernist you actuyou the recogni ze and i n front of andi t i sal lopen pr oc e sosf s k e tc h i nth , d e fi n i ng, g ,i n k i n gre qui ntessence i s the Thi sopenness i n,l et' ssay,1955. allygo v e rn i ncgo n d i ti o nosf p i c to ri aplroducti on of colwith the legacy abstraction modelandit isfusinga critiqueof late-Modernist of that aesthetic of the actuallygivenpossibilities lt articulates as a matrixof abstraction. lage,of the readymade paintrl e y p ro d u c ti oant th a tti m e . y B : I t hlnky ou' reri g h t.On eth i n gI w o u l da d d :l t w asnot easyfor K el l yto agreeto showthesethi ngs'A ndI y d methatw henhesawal lthe l obl efson t hinkth a t i s p ro b a b lwy h y h e ' ss i c kto n i ght.H eactual ltol As record. Youknow,it'sa verypersonal apart. he felt naked,torn the wallsof TheDrawingCenter, t2-73


i

-

Tabletzt, 1957-63.Ink and pencilon papermountedon mat board.5 tl z x zrin. @ EllsworthKetly

you say,it seemsto be utteredby a voicethat is beforethe voiceof authority, in manyways,and fo r h i m,to o ,a n ds o i t' sl ikeenteri ng i ntosomeone'fisrstw ordsor babbl e or somethi ng. B B: B u t i t' sn o t a b o u tth e p ri v a te ness of thi sacti on. YB: No. i dea-coul you d el aborate Q : T h el o g os e e me ldi k ea v e ryi n te resti ng a bi t? Y B : We l l ,I u s eth e te rm" l o g o "a s a ki ndof shortcut. Thefi rstcri ti cw ho spokeaboutthi s ki ndof thi ngwas L a w re n cAel l o w a yw, h owrotean i nteresti ng arti cl e, thoughmuchtoo bri ef,aboutthe noti onof her a l d ryi n K e l l y 'w s o rk T . h ati s,he spokeof K el l y'practi ce s of maki nga si l houette or an i mageth at is o n l yo n ec o l o ra n do n es hape, w hi chbecomes i mpri nted i n the behol der'mi s ndso that i t w ou ldbe re c o g n i z a bnloet a sa n y t hi ng el se,butasi f.Thatw asan i deathat K el l yhadfor manyyearsandwhy h e w a sa l w a y si n , te re s t i ngltryi y, ngto fi nd bi zarre, c" unusual shapes i n hi s" bi omorphiyears. In any c a s eth , a t i s th e s e n s ei n w hi chI usethe i deaof l ogo.0f courseK el l yi s not a l ogo" desi gnerThe ." fu n n yth i n g ,a c tu a l l yi s, that he w asonceaskedto act l i keoneandhe fai l ed.The" M" that yo usee i n th e to p ri g h to f T o b l e21 t i s the draftof a desi gnfor the company l V i l l er: Theydi dn' tl i keit . He w a sre l i e v e d h ,e to l d me . B B: I th i n ko n ec o u l dre a l l ys i tu a tet hi sa l i ttl emorew i thi nthe general cul tureof the fi fti es,by sayi ngsom ey a t i n th e fl fti esal l geometriabstracti w h a tj o c u l a rl th c on aspi res to the condi ti on of the i ndust r ial l o g oi n te rmso f i ts u l ti matedepl oyment i n the emergi ng corporate desi gncul ture. Foran abst r act painterlike Ellsworth Kelly,that musthavebeenthe manifesttravestyof the projectof utopian a b s tra c ti oonf th e tw e n ties. Toseehi mselconfronted f w i ththatal l al ongmusthavebeena pe r pet u a lc h a l l e n gfo e r Ke l l y -h owto w orkhi sw aythroughi t andout of i t, ratherthanto be contained w i th i ni t, a n dI th i n kth a t i s a condi ti on for abstracti on i n the fi fti esandsi xti es at l arge. A ndi f you l o o ka t d e s i g nc u l tu reo f that peri od, to w hatdegree i t hadabrogated prettymucheveryi di o mof


Ketly Tablet65,1960.Printedpaper.@ ElLsworth

of that pai nti ng w i thi nw hi chabstract thi nkthat i sa schi sm g n dma d ei t i tso w n ...l abs t ra cpta i n ti n a i t and oppose i t and subvert to of answ ers number a gene ra ti owno u l dh a v efo u n di ts e l f.K e l l yfound desi gn. a b s tra c ti ofro n mth e c u l tu reof corporate dis id e n ti fy w ay? y i n suchan apparentlhaphazard th i sm a t eri al w h y K e l l ymo u n te d e : Couldy ouex p l a i n hetri edto do thi sstuffsomew hat i tsel and f y B : B ec aushe e fo u n di t v ery b o ri n gto a c tu a l l dy o the mounti ng H y K el l y'aestheti s c.eactual l had of master p o n d e rous expl anati on th i s n o t b e c o m e i t w o u l d f as tso l t has absurd. i t' s total l y because numberi ng, the l ook at t o i n te re s ti n g i t' s s om e o nnee rph i m .A n d far as groupi ngs. A nd as the j u s t he di d i n w hi ch order the fo l l ow s no s ig n i fi c a n cweh a ts o e v e r-i t B ut others. than say, sel f-expl anatory l et' s are more, t he gr o u p i n gasrec o n c e rn ehde, d i ds o methat ow n art hi s bei ng or art cri ti c hi s ow n I t hin kh e d i d trv v e rym u c hn o t to fa l l i nto a trapof bei ng Therearethi ngsthat areobvl the fragments. his t o rl aann dto k e e ps o mek i n do f fl u i di tybetw een that he haddonethemat the sameti meandhe hadtri ed ous lyto g e th ebr e c a u shee re m e m b e r ed therearethi ngs D on' you t thi nk?S ure, of the boards. t o s o rtth e mo u t a b i t,b u t i t' sn o t th e m aj ori ty not bethi ski nd w oul d assembl y the sure that make tri ed to h e b u t to g e th e r, to b e c h o s e n t hat a re of hi sw ork' of ha rdd, e mo n s tra ti vuen,i l i n e aerx p o si ti on onabstracti on?" o n w h a ty o u m e a n tby K el l y'"serotl ci zati of e: Couldy ou pl e a s e l a b o ra te B othof sm' andS urreal iautomati st st omorphi sm s o rkfro mS urreal i bi te l l y 'w B B : I wast r y in gto d i ffe re n ti a Ke For the sake P ari s" at theti methat he i s i n l rm a ti o nws i thw h i chhe i s i n di al ogue whic ha rec ru c i afo i n andautomati sm, the that bi omorphi sm j u s t n o w ,I s i mp l i fi eidmme nselby y suggesti ng of bre v i ty A ndi t i s supposarel i nkedto eroti cdesl re. def in i ti o th n a t S u rre a l i sgmi v e sth e ma skeystrategi es, that thi seroti cstructure acti vi ty automati st free through d e s i re p ro c e s o s f s e tti n g th e edlyw i th i n

14'15


withinits utmostopposite, that dimension whatKelly's workdoesis inscribe Bycontrast, is enacted. ly So w i th l i bi di nal desir e. ate Mondri an A fteral l ,w e don' tgeneral associ l a teM o d e rn i satb s tra c ti on. geometric moment of Modernist in the high structure that operates there is a different clearly WhatI wastryingto distinrelationship to desire. and it hasits own verycomplicated abstraction withina different, guishin Kelly'sworkis precisely of Surrealist legacies andprinciples the incursion Thefusionof thetwo in Kelly's abstraction. namelythat of geometric opposite operation, supposedly a fusion for me.And it is all the moreastonishing paintingdemarcate the momentof departure c of the high on on the onehand,andgeometriabstracti andautomati sm s i n c eb o thb i o mo rp h i sm if you momentin the postwarperiodon the other,can be rightfullyconsidered, classicModernist Theyarenot easi l avai y l abloept ions col l apsed, or bankrupt. r rm s,asconcl uded, w a n tto u s em i l d e te they payby anymore, and for thosepeoplewho,at the time,claimthat they areeasilyavailable, paradigms, reenacts it links those two atrophied in as much as work,by contrast, atrophy. So Kelly's the future. lt is the ns,it turnsout to bethe modelof differentmodel,andas it happe a completely conis externally definedratherthan subjectively that libidinalexperience modelthat recognizes projected. threshold that definesKellyas a postAnd that is the historical ceivedor subjectively yet.That's who we wouldclearlynot locatein that framework Cageanartist,ratherthan Pollock, reallyall I wastryingto say.

CovecTablet54, 195os.Ink, pencil.r5 !z xzr in. @ EttsworthKetty


Foundation. W.Goldsmith byTheHorace wasprovided Majorsupportfor thisexhibition S.Fuld,Jr.' Richard and Kathleen of possible the support through made was also Theexhibition R. Caplan. constance and shapiro, Daniel Gund and Agnes EmilyRauhPulitzer, Janet to thankJamesBarth,OrenFlor, Centeralsowishes TheDrawing with the exhibition, Fortheirassistance Jill Sussman, Slaughter, Thomas Shear, Jack Rosenfeld, Adrian Moffett, Mark Marks, Matthew Hull, Chris Hawkins, and EvaWalters. p ubl i cati onsdocumenti ngTheD raw i ngC enter' sexhi bi ti on s T his is num ber 2 g othf e D ra w i n g P o p e rs ,a s e ri esof of drawing. study for the providing forum a programs and public and Dulcet100#SmoothTextand80# Dulcet is printedon Monadnock publications series Ihe DrowingPopers SmoothCover.

de Zegher Catherine Director Executive Boa rd o f Director s

DitaAmory Negroponte George Choirmen

BeattyAdler Frances MelvaBucksbaum Jr. JamesM. Clark, Dittmer Frances ColinEisler Factor Elizabeth BruceW Ferguson WernerH.Kramarsky AbbyLelgh W illiam S .Liebe rma n MichaelLynne Rohatyn* Elizabeth E r icC.Rudin AllenLeeSessoms C.Thayer* Jeanne H.Tuck Edward AndreaWoodner *Emerita

D r a w i n g C e n t e r Pu b lica tio n s Editor Executive AdamLehner, Desgner LucDerycke, Coordinotor AnnTarantino, Center TheDrawing 35 WoosterStreet NewYork,NY10013 T e [l 2 1 22] 1 9 - 2 1 6 6 Fax(212)966-2976 www.drawingcenter.org @The Center Drawing



Ellsworth Kelly: Tablet 1948-1973