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ELLSWORTH KELLY


ELLSWORTH

Edited by Diane

KELLY: A RETROSPECTIVE

Waldman

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM


KELLY: A RETROSPECTIVE Diane Waldman

ELLSWORTH Organized by

Solomon October

R.

Guggenheim Museum, New York

18,

The Museum February

1996-January

of (

ontemporary

16-May

rallery,

L

15,

is.

1997

7,

All

R.

Guggenheim Foundation,

York. All rights reserved.

©1996

Ellsworth Kell) works

Ellsworth Kelly.

I

os Angeles

ISBN 0-8

HN

hS c>~-5 (hardcover)

ISBN 0-8920- 177-x

(softcover)

Guggenheim Museum Publications

ondon

|une 12-September

New

Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1997

Vrt,

©1996 The Solomon

1997

1D"1 Fifth Avenue

New

York,

New

York 10 2* 1

Haus der Kunst, Munich

November 1997-Januarj 1998

Hardeover edition distributed Harry N. Abr.ims,

100

Fifth

In

Inc.

Avenue

Nev. York. Nev. York 10011

Design In Matsumoto Incorporated,

Cover by Ellsworth Kelly

Printed

m Germany

by C antz

New

York


Contents

Ellsworth Kelly

10

Diane Waldman Ellsworth Kelly's Multipanel Paintings

40

Roberta Bernstein Ellsworth Kelly's Curves

56

Carter Ratcliff

62

Experiencing Presence Mark Rosenthal

66

Kelly's At Play with Vision: Ellsworth

Clare Bell

81

2

3

5 3

1

3

320

Painting

Works on Paper Chronology Exhibition History and Bibliography Josette

333

and Sculpture

Lamoureux

Index of Reproductions

"1 ine,

Form and

(

oloi


This exhibition

is

sponsored by

HUGO BOSS provided by Significant additional support lias been

The Riggio Family and Stephen and Nan Swid. 1

his project

is

supported

Endowment tor Cheatham Foundation. National

in

part by grants from the

the Arts

and The

Owen


Sponsor's Statement

The rewards

of art are for people

and stimulate led

then,.

I

its

becomes

a

laboratory of

partnership with the

life

who and

an

allow

...

disturb, challenge,

creativity, rhis conviction has

Guggenheim Museum, and

to

promote the work

who bring a productive unrest into our lives, supports exemplary exhibitions devoted to ma)or artists, also [ugo Boss

emerging and established a sponsor,

exert themselves tot art-those

01 such people, art

I

Hugo Boss to embark on As

who

of

artists

earned their stature by pointing a

way forward

for

Modern

who

have

art.

an American artist who began his career in This Ellsworth Kelt) retrospective Like European art, earliei as ^11 as .oniemporarv postwar Pans; there, he engaged in a d.alogue with .hem. B, making has shown that traditions can be ma.ntamed onl, all great artists, however, he is

a

complete look

at

I

American abstract art a nevv uWnon developmg an and devoted work of Diane Wadman and lam full of admiration and gratitude for the tireless have assembled more than contributors. or tins exhibition the, her team of colleagues and international on paper, and the works more than one hundred and fiftj one hundred palming* and sculptures and has given individual style ol abstraction, Kell,

1

ZEZ* tha Dr. Peter

the, have

Littmann

Chairman and

Hugo Boss

AC

CEO

produced provides

a thread to

gu.de us through the labyrinth of a lifetime

rk.


c .... to the Exhibition Lenaers I enders iu .

,

Anderson Harry' W. and Mary Margaret ,. [nstmite Q j Chicago

^^

*

Museum

Berardo Collection, Sintra Modern Arc, Lisbon Irving Blum,

lima and

The

Eli

New

of

York

Norman Braman

and Edythe

L.

Broad Collection,

Los Angeles Caldic Collection, Rotterdam Constance R. Caplan, Baltimore

Douglas

S.

Cramer

Anthony d'Offay

Gallery,

London

Miles and Shirley Fiterman

Robert H. Halff, Beverly

The Helman Hirshhorn

Collection,

Museum and

Hills, California

New

York

Sculpture Garden,

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Mr. and Mrs. Lee Kimmell, Ridgefield, Connecticut

Franklin and Susanne Konigsberg,

Los Angeles Sarah-Ann and Werner H. Kramarsky Janie C. Lee Gallery,

Houston

Los Angeles County

Museum

Stephen

of Art, Los Angeles

Mazoh

York The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Maryland Phoenix, Meyerhoff, Robert and Jane

Musee de Grenoble Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina

Sofia,

Madrid

Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego The Museum of Modern Art, New York Collection, The Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Dallas

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum San Francisco

Museum

of

of Art, Kansas City

Modern

Art

Jack Shear Stcdelijk

Museum Amsterdam

and Mrs. Paul Sternberg, Glencoe, Stephen and Nan Swid

Dr.

Tate Gallery,

London

Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Whitney Museum of American Art, (

Illinois

New

York

Jinny Williams Family Foundation, Collection of Ginny Williams

Private collectors

who

wish to remain anonymous


The Solomon

R.

Guggenheim Foundation

Honorary Trustees in Perpetuity Solomon R. Guggenheim Justin K. Thannhauser Peggy Guggenheim Chairman Peter Lawson-Johnston

Trustees fiovanni Agnelli

(

Jon Imanol Azua

Edgar Bronfman, Jr. The Right Honorable

Mary Sharp Cronson Carlo De Benedetti 1

President

Ronald O. Perelman

arl

1

Castle Stewart

>aniel Filipacchi

Robert M. Gardiner Rainer Heubach

Barbara [onas

Vice-Presidents

Robert M. Gardiner

Wendy

L-J.

McNeil

David

Thomas Peter

Vice-President

and Treasurer

Stephen C. Swid

Krens

awson-Johnston

I

Rolf-Dieter Leister Peter B.

Thomas Krens

Edward

F.

Rover

Meyer

II.

Richard A. Rifkind Saul

Rudolph

B.

Schulhol

Terry Semel

Honorary Trustee Claude Pompidou Trustee,

McNeil

L-J.

Ronald O. Perelman

Demse Secretary

ewis

1

Wendy Edward

Director

Koch

II.

Ex

[acques E.

I

[ames

Seymour Stephen

Officio

ennon

[ohn C

Director Emeritus

Thomas M. Messer

Sherwood

B.

Raja Sidawi

S.

Slive C

.

Swid

Wadsworth,

|r.

ornel Wesi

Michael 1. Wettach [ohn Wilmerding William

1.

Ylvisaker


Foreword

unorthodox has been , tumultuous and mcreas.ngly artis, to devote his career an for rare it is sensibilities, and Odyssey into new styles, materials, techniques, Ellsworth Ke 1, has done, ver smc .1 to form, approach singular of a potential to expToring the of he has steadfastly adhered to he power art, first pieces of abstrac. ate 1940s when Kelly created his meticulous and unexpected realities. Fr

Given that the curse of twentieth-centur,

art

-

ptn

ris

a noet.es

communicate new or dogma. H,s contribution of vision unbounded by convention

J"*^*^

to

longstanding,

is

to be thanked for

o*^««*^

^^

lies in

* -

Boss

5S£U

re

i

cooperation of n,, Peter Littmann,

C

unw avering

;

-h--

ha.rman and

andls,

1

Not many

museum

.mplem »

and with the research, planning, of wor peasure the b ee„. Those who have

assist

rs^

has

masterpiece. Wright's .irJntcctur.il

Thomas Krens Director

Foundation The Solomon R. Guggenheim

a.

ng

much

K, r

^

resources and to join

^

-

'

^^

I

resources to

^

no fan w.

,

.ugo ,

,

.^ ^ h

s

dedicate sc artists are as willing o

^

_

tosshare

o

3 s-i«^-as;ssf-*^ eadmn. continuing support of the

Out parmenhip with

H

P^™^™^ - Mm

our mission to have aided ns considerabl) in profound thank our then, to century. We extend

<

the

^—= ££»* ^ fl.

hspensable for

d

*pecia.l,

exhibition, and th

:^*^^tf£32^"a "'^tS^'SSK^

ad, ancing th< disciplines

P

(

^

^

m

J *--»-'"

throughou , the


a

Acknowledgments

work u. past exh.h ..on , a, d Ellsworth Kelly since 1968, have included h.s Collages Prmts ,n 71 ... Ellsworth Kelly. Drawings, ked closely with hin, on the publication h,s total on him work w.th to opportunity survey that 1 have had the

Although v

1

known

have

want

until this retrospective

oJ vr

to date. In his art, Kelly

.t

s.mp e, mastery of color, form, and scale seem vArant he etnoyed Havmg passion that animates every piece. , ki g us aware of the human ;, over the years, .Us a has shared with me in conversion Th rvn ons and acute insights that he sculptures and works on full range of pa ntings ; faTme to he able to present to audtences the dedicated work. He has .rele 1 nearly five decades of thoughtful, at he has created during and generous sp.n, have made ,t a this project, and his good humor g,ven his -pp..,, and energy to

makes

his unparalleled

"

^

many Tw^° ht ;:^ Tthanks have and P mt and w ho photographs e

have given so freely of their time and catalogue. I am deeply exhibition this thus contributed to the success of e which are a great surroundmgs, of Kelly and his grateful to jack Shear, for his exquisite Kelly s oeuvre. about the wealth of his knowledge catalogue, and for sharing with me the -an, ,he enormously helpful. For their attention to studio assistant have also been Nek J Hughes, thank Wanda publication and the exh.bmon, I planning and implementation of this have provid d Enterprises Carlson Peter of and Ed Suman Walters and Ian Berry. Peter Carlson installation ,nformat,on regarding the fabrication paper works Center, a.ded m prepanng Kelly s Conservation Art Williamstown Conservator of Paper,

P

'

to the

individuals

who

addnn ore

S T f

*

M^

'

f^^SX^^

°r '"I

and Matthew from the involvement of Anthony d'Offay nformat.on and prov.ded important materials with the support of their staffs, have Blum and paper. The recollect,,,,, of Irving paintings, sculptures, and works on

attoAankfu.

Marks who

concert

to have benefited

KeTly's

exceptional resource. Joseph Helman have been an thouehtful ttu the.r subject, ho, the., though with writers who are pass.onate about work to It is a Pleasure Care and Ratcliff, Mark Rosenthal, thanks to Roberta Bernstein, Carter I extend my c inlogue ess y of Kelly's role m the development of scholarship will further the understanding

BdfXiHnS, abstra

and

;::i, m ^m t as in m

T;:'::,:e

has been

ta

^

«.

^o*

«

d

who coordmated

Curatorial Assistant, dccplv indebted to Tracey Bashkoff, Bell, Assent Curator, for Clare grateful to also 1 am of thl- Exhibition an/catalogue. P tor her help and josette Lamoureux, Exh.bit.on Ass.stant, contribution to the project, and to that she compiled. thorough Exhibition History and Bibliography

of °

th,s

exh

every

e

^£Ztt^^Z£Z££*. ******££> rK^5^3£iSSSSSL It most grateful

Tel

an, researched

My

thanks are

and

due to

involved in this presentation. n p. cited installation issues preparation installation and whose thoughtful advance in the many aspects of the Garofalo ..aura Coordinator; K nt Assist an. Exhibition Design Lelyn i

all

w ho

ne pated

was mvaluable.

^JT^T

Tr

Production; Guillermo Director of Film and Television tectural Draftspersons: Ultan Guilfoyle, Coordinator; Services Manager/Exhibition Design

Auh Ts2, m Ov Ltn^ShuTman,

ZZl

Wixon, Manager

««££*

Peter Read. Production

Senior Exhibition Lighting Designer; Dennis Vermeulen, thank the interns and volun of Art Services and Preparations.

Bancroft, Joel Fisher enthusiastically of their time: Sarah

Z £ monograph. My

contributes

ec

.

Enuha

gratitude goes to Takaaki

f™*°™»> J Matsumoto

of

,

h Og

%£"**"' "**

Mat

toto, inc. for his


sensitive design of the catalogue,

grateful to Elizabeth Levy,

am

glad to have

and to

Managing

his assistants,

my

text.

Assistant Editor, for the.r

My

many

Wilkins and Watchara Kantamala.

I

am

catalogue. Editor, for expertly overseeing the production of the

worked again with Stephen Robert

discerning edits to

Amy

Frankel, Project Fditor, and

I

thank him

thanks are also due to Edward Weisberger, Editor, and contributions to this project; to

Kcth Mayerson,

(

arol

also 1

for his I

itzgerald,

tor his assistance in the

Photograph., Manager, Sally Ruts. Photograph} Publications Department; and to David Heald, for the.r work on paintings in area collections. Assistant, Photography Associate, and Ellen Labenski, truly indebted to them for the.r The sponsors of this exhibition have been magnanimous; I am and nc),\ [ ug0 Boss, extend .m deep appreciation for participation. To Dr. Peter Littmann, Chairman and en like to thank Stephen and Nan Swid I would especially his commitment to this presentat.on. grateful am support, friendship, and enthusiasm. and Lou.se Riggio for their extraord.nar.lv generous of the Owen Cheatham Foundation. for the support of Celeste and Stephen Weisglass then works lenders who generously agreed to share the many appreciation to I extend my heartfelt Kelly s enabled us to present the full breadth of w.th visitors to the exhibition. The.r support has I

I

I

accomplishments to the public.

Diane Waldman

Deputy Director and Senior Curator Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


A r

t >

--^V

1

-^^^ -

l,/'-j4»


Ellsworth Kelly

by Diane

Waldman

The work of an

artist is the result of collective memory, a search for individual identity, and a process of discovery. Ellsworth Kelly's art was profoundly affected by his studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, beginning in 1946, especially by the paintings of Max Beckmann and by Byzantine

and Romanesque

art.

From Boston,

Kelly

of Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso at the

made

Museum

infrequent trips to

of

Modern Art and

New

York, where he saw the work

of Vasily Kandinsky at the

Museum

of Non-Objective Painting (now the

Guggenheim Museum). After World War II, when he took up residence in Paris in 1948 under the G.I. Bill of Rights, he became intrigued with the radical innovations of several other early twentieth-century artists, among them Henri Matisse and Jean (Hans) Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Because of his interest of his time at the the

Musee du Louvre,

Romanesque churches

in

the

in

French

art, architecture,

Musee de THomme, and

the

and

history, Kelly spent

Musee Guimet. He

much

also visited

Tavant, Saint-Savin, and Poitiers, which he had previously seen only

in

reproductions.'

1.

Ellsworth Kelly

m

Pans. 1M4X

When Kelly returned to the United States and settled in New York in 1954, abstract art meant something altogether different to him than it did to American abstract artists in the 1930s or to the new generation of abstractionists, the Abstract Expressionists. As an American in Paris, he was considered an outsider, and this feeling was reinforced by his interest in early European Modernism rather than in the

movement championed by

movement then

vogue

in

in Paris

and soon

to be

Informel were the postwar French equivalent of

known

as Abstract Expressionists,

de Kooning. Kelly did admire the

among work

the

such as Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages, a named Tachisme. Practitioners of Tachisme or Art New York-based Action Painters, more commonly

artists

most celebrated of

whom

are Jackson Pollock and Willem

of certain contemporary European painters, such as Alberto

Magnelli and Wols (born Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), and was interested in Surrealism, particularly the drawings of Antonin Artaud. After six years in Paris, Kelly arrived in New York with a sensibility


shaped by

his

admiration for European culture. His work went

Abstract Expressionists, who,

in their

Renaissance tradition of depicting the world of appearances and replaced

many

the artist's imagination. Although, like Kelly,

from that of the

in a different direction

new American

determination to forge a

it

art, rejected the

with a world envisioned by

of the Abstract Expressionists admired the early

twentieth-century Modernists, they were primarily interested

in

action as an event that

documented the

painting process. Kelly's view of painting was more introspective and contemplative, and his method of

working was very to

make

it

September

different

from that of the Action

He wanted

Painters.

part of the architecture of the environment in which 4,

1950, he wrote:

My

much

collages are only ideas for things

Study for "Color Wall Panels," 1952,

done

I

would

like to see

much

larger.

larger

cat. no. I

am

it

was

— things

painting to be intimate but also

placed. In a letter to John

(

age of

to cover walls [see

122]. In fact all the things I've

not interested in painting as

has

it

been accepted for so long to hang on walls of houses as pictures. To hell with pictures they should be the wall even better on the outside wall—of large buildings. Or stood up outside as billboards or a kind of modern "/< on. " We

must make our

art like the Egyptians, the Chinese

primitives— with their relation to

life.

It

& the African and the

should meet the

eye— dire,

Island

I.

combined his interests in ancient art and architecture with early twentieth-century Modernism transcending time. create a body of work that is a seamless blend of past and present, almost recent and stems from relatively is art twentieth-century figure in Kelly's emergence as a major Kelly

cumulative recognition of his

many accomplishments as an

artist

over the

last five

to

a

decades. Three

absence, in long delay are the public's resistance to so-called pure abstraction; the so much a feature ol an been has that of the kind notoriety the early years of his career, of any instant to first began that he ideas pursuing is still he that since the time of Marcel Duchamp; and the fact in part to his Kick ol explore in the late 1940s. If the belated recognition of his art can be attributed method of working, thoughtful and temperament self-aggrandizement, it is also the result of his reflective his work As consequence, a practice. current to a process that in itself is almost completely antithetical paintings, were the recently only example, For in its entirety remains largely unknown to the public.

major factors

rehefs,

in this

and drawings of

his Paris period

(1948-54) presented

recognition in the public arena has been late

movements such

as Abstract Expressionism

compared

and Pop

in a

to artists

major exhibition. Although Kelly's been identified with

who have

art, his singularity

has given him the space he

ideas related to the flat plane, needed to confront issues that were meaningful to his between the flat plane ol made he shape color, and line. The sum of these issues, and the distinctions have combined to architecture, space of painting, drawing, and collage and the three-dimensional belief in art as ancient on the is based produce some of the most distinctive work of our time. It twentieth-century on the early and the intertwined worlds ol reality and the spirit

work, among them

handmaiden

to

lite. stems from the deeply felt conviction that art can afreet for Kelly, more a group— or school, movement, By sidestepping identification with one particular misinterpreted, them of several his art linked with matter of preference than design-he has often had Kelly s 1960s the in Early it has little in common. and confused with the work of artists with which with primarily not was concern the fact that his

Utopian ideal

in art that

Hard-edge painting/ despite color, the black and white-the edges then, "I'm interested in the mass and Soon after, his work was misconstrued as happen because the forms get as quiet as they can be." experimented with color, line, and abstract Op art a short-lived m.d-1960s movement of artists who with and depth: It has also been mistakenly identified patterns to create the illusion of movement

work was categorized edge As he explained

2. Self-Portrait,

Gouache on

1949.

p.i|H-r,

is

.

n

1

I-

inches

as

monochrome

panel painting.

use of mid-1960s movement that postdates Kelly's own label applied by before it, was a convenient Expressionism Abstract Minimalism, like Pop art and K5 to refer to in used the term Minimal art beginning Barbara Rose (and then other critics), who

Minimalism, (47.6 x 31.8 cm). Private collection

a

1

I

|

Diane Waldman:

I

llsworth Kelly


works by Frank Stella, Anne Truitt, Richard Tuttle, and several other artists." By the late 1960s, though, the term was used most often to describe the work of Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Morris, who emphasized concepts rather than end products, rejected the precious object in favor of the context or environment for which a work was created, and used prefabricated industrial units in order to eliminate the appearance of the artist's hand. While Kelly's work may share certain characteristics with that of two painters associated with the movement, Robert Mangold and Robert

Ryman,

especially in their use of reductive form, distilled color,

paintings and sculptures not only predate their

approach to

different ideas. Kelly's

paintings or sculptures

is

different,

his

work

even

is

if it is

and painterly surface, many of his ten years but are concerned with

work by more than

based on the creation of unique objects; each of his part of a series. Despite these misleading classifications,

work has endured precisely because it is so singular in its vision, usually touching on mainstream thinking only when such ideas coincided with his own. It affirms neither a particular school nor only doctrinaire Modernism; indeed, it constitutes an affirmation that art has no rules, no systems Kelly's

possibilities.

In this respect, Kelly's decisions,

separate him from the artists to J.

Ambrogio

Lorcnzetti, Virgin

connected with two

and

artists

with

whom whom

keyed as they are to the uniqueness of each individual painting, his

work

is

most

Lichtenstein. Kelly shares their interest in the iconic Child, ca. late I330s-earlj 1340s.

easily connected. Kelly himself feels

he would appear

and

least in

connected

Jasper Johns and

most

closely

Roy

the real world, though not their sense of

more metaphysical painters of the New York School, such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, he has been able to open up an area of art that cannot be determined solely by deductive reasoning, but one that is subject to the discipline of a highly developed intuition and visual acuity. Like Newman and Rothko, Kelly is committed to relying on this intuition when making decisions about the final placement of vertical and horizontal, curve and diagonal, the choice of color and its intensity, and the relationship of one color to its possible partner or partners. While it is true that Kelly does predetermine certain of his decisions the shape of the canvas support, for example these, too, are a matter of predilection rather than any doctrine and are subject to change. For Newman and Rothko, the blank canvas functioned as a void from which they brought images into being through near-mystical confrontations. But for Kelly, the spiritual nature of his art stems from the reality of the object and the response it evokes from the spectator. At the same time, Kelly, like Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, was intrigued by the "reality" that the canvas itself could convey in terms of pure painting. It is one of Kelly's irony. Like the

Tempera on panel, 29 (75.5 \ 45.

an).

i

inches

17

Museum

of

Fine Arts, Boston, Charles Potter

Kling Fund.

fundamental contributions to Modern art to further advance of color.

The key

sculptures, drawings,

Howe and

in

Newburgh,

New

Florence Githens Kelly.

York, on

When

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 1929, to Oradell,

4.

Tintoretto

(

Jacopo Robusti), Portrait of a Young

Man.ca. 1580. Oil

on canvas, 25 X

Museum

x 21

.

inches 164.5 x 55

of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Mrs.

3

W.

cm) Scott

and Robert Treat Paine

II.

Kelly

May was

31, 1923, the second of three sons, still

New Jersey.

a youngster, the family

moved

to

remembers that in Oradell his mother moved the family so often that she would have to remind both her husband and her sons which address they were to return to at the end of the day. Although his parents disapproved of his desire to be an artist, in 1939 his mother bought him an art book that had just been published, World-Famous Paintings, edited and with an essay by Rockwell Kent. Of the many European masterpieces reproduced in the book Kelly was particularly taken with Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini's The Doge Leonardo Loredan, 1501-04, the newly restored The Ambassadors Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve, 1533, by Flemish artist Hans Holbein the Younger, and Paul Cezanne's Chestnut Trees at the Jas de Bouffan, Kelly

K

885-86. Despite

his parents' ambivalence about art, he continued to pursue it. At Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey, he was encouraged to study art and acting by his teachers, Evelyn Robbins and Helen Travolta; he was also active in the school's theater club, The Mask and Wig. 1

Fit/

by proposing a new "reality"

body of paintings, and collages that he has produced from 1949 to the present.

Ellsworth Kelly was born to Allan

this "reality"

to an understanding of his procedure can be seen in the large

His other chief interest was bird watching, a lifelong practice that he became interested

in

when he was


five,

encouraged by

his

mother, and later his grandmother, Louisa (Rosenleibe) Kelly, as

a

way

him

to get

to feel better during a childhood illness.

1941-42,

In

after Kelly

Eugen H. Petersen

graduated from high school, he studied with Maitland

at Pratt Institute in

Brooklyn, and on January

1,

E. Graves and 1943 was inducted into the United

Army. He was sent to Eort Dix, New Jersey, and then to Camp Hale, Colorado, until his request Camouflage Battalion, at Fort Meade, Maryland, was granted. Even the of source Kellv's continuing army was a art-histor) education. In 1944 the army published and, on Treasury request, gave to the soldiers A of Art Masterpieces, which he still treasures. Edited and with an States

to serve in the 603rd Engineers

Introduction by

Thomas Craven,

it

included reproductions of masterpieces ranging from Giotto

t<>

M4; his tour of duty during the Allied invasion of Picasso. Kelly's unit was sent to England in fune Western Europe included Brittany, Normandy, and Luxembourg. In September his outfit was stationed for two weeks at Saint-Germain-en Lave, and Kelly visited Pans for the first time, though only briefly. While in the capital, he sketched its parks, churches, and other buildings but was unable to visit the 1

L

"

l

museums, most of which were closed due to the war. When World War II ended, Kelly returned to the United States and moved to Boston toward the end of 1945. He qualified under the CI. Bill of Rights for tuition to attend the School of the Museum of c M(^ to Ma) 1948. During this period he lived at the Norfolk Fine Arts, which he did from January House Center in Roxbury, Massachusetts, teaching evening classes in art there in exchange for tree room and board, and spent the summer of 1947 in Skowhegan, Maine, on a scholarship from the Skowhegan

city's

l

S.

Artist/maker unknown, Christ

in

Majesty With

Symbols of the lour Evangelists, 12th century. I

resco secco transferred

2S4

x

iso

Museum

,

<>\

x

in

i<>

plaster

School of Painting and Sculpture, where he was given a studio in which to paint. The teachers at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts gave classes based on

and wood,

inches (645 x J82

x

2*2 cm).

Old Master painting and drawing, and required

Fine Arts, Boston, Mario Antoinette

Master paintings

in

the

Museum

Kelly .md his fellow students to

classical principles oi

make

copies of Old

of line Arts, Boston. Such studies, especially the ones that Kelly did

and Child," ca. late ^()s-early 1340s (fig. 5), and SSI) (fig. 4), reinforced his appreciation for Venetian painter Tintoretto's Portrait of a Young Man, ca. European painting. He also admired the museum's fresco <>t Christ in Majesty from the twelfth-century painting Catalan church of Santa Maria, in the town of Mur (fig. 5). He became versed in classical

after Sienese artist

Evans Fund.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti\

Virgin

1

I

transparent layers of tinted color mixed with K. Coomaraswamy, the museum's fellow tor research

techniques, using gray as the ground and applying over varnish. In addition, he in Indian, Persian,

was influenced by Ananda art, and became

and Muhammadan

attending, for example,

.\n

it

interested in the artifacts of native cultures,

exhibition on the culture of North American

Mound

Builders at

I

larvard

University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnolo German Expressionism The school's classical approach was tempered somewhat by an interest in the contours emphasized who Bengtz, Ture with drawing studied Kelly and the paintings of Beckmann. I he school S with Karl Zerbe, who introduced Kelly to the work of Beckmann.

of objects, and painting

6.

ca

Beckmann other prominent artists to give lectures to the students. at the School of Saint ouis, position in teaching a accepted he came to the United States in 1947 when Boston on March 13, 194S, to deliver a lecture (titled Fine Arts Washington Univers.tv; and he visited Museum of Fine Arts. Kelly went to hear Beckmann School of the "Letters to a Woman Painter") at the to the students because he had difficulty lecture the and recalls that Beckmann's wife, Quappi, read paid more attention to the female Beckmann that disappointed speaking English." He remembers being faculty also invited

Matthias Griinewald, Isenheim Altarpiece,

Beckmann and

I

IS 10-15.

Oil on panel, 115 x 211 M inches (2^2 \ S36 cm).

Musee d'Unterlinden,

(

olmar,

I

ranee

students

in his class

Philip Guston also visited the than he did to Kelly and the other male students.

class,

of Piero della Francesca.

admiration for the work the random patterns 1947 (cat. no. 109), is one of Kelly's early drawings based on conveys the effect of markings brusque short, of produced bv natural phenomena. The rapid succession to the page, relationship in forms positioning of its in water as it flows over a dam. While still tentative

and spoke of

his great

Sluice Gates

it

exemphf.es Kelly's innate

ability to evoke,

nature Although View of Roxbury, 1948

13

Diane Waldm.in: rllstorth Kelly

through

(fig.

10),

is

a series a

of marks, a variety of forms found

more straightforward

in

rendition of the streets that


o a»

— -*— M

» -*, , -

M„

"™

-

„o„, , plane of the paper.

Pans over culture and thus chose thrived in an old of Bill wis made poss,b.e by a G... that commun culture a in "City of Light," v|vre museums, c Js and ,«e de the city's architecture, being a

of freedom a foreigner and the sense

language and

was

customs. Kelly

living somewhere to trl p to Colmar

else

d, S sat,sf,ed

might have

a

catha

-^^

«J

on

as a

"W^rf u

GrunewaldIs « see Matthms n he had see* ,nd d. Bosto student in Beau^^ Arts enrolled at the Ecole des

after his arrival, he

who had moved ,ack Youngerman, Youngerman as Art, G... Bill.

ed

Romanesque Head.

Gouache on paper, 16

l

W

Pans the

embrace of

inches

x 12

married Youngerman

During portraits that

in

1950.

resumed

th.s time, Kelly

his interest

combine the influences of

historical frequent visitor to the of art the t,an art, and

mng

had Uone

in

h

Boston and P aris,

,

felt

that

Kelly took a

(fig . 6) , .

^^ ^ ^^ ^^ ^ ^^^ ,

In November, a reproductions. P

month ,,

ther£ through

k&

ore an

in the

and life anonym.ty of

afer amving n ,,„_,, cj in

,

the F

that hc

^

Kelly their Parisi an counterparts.

m

and

painted several half-length gvzantine mosaics and Byzantine ntine art He was a d B

,n

coLtions

Pans spend n

to *»" f.nd models on which the past, he began to Musee National d Art Moderr Kelly also visited the

adm.red New-York, where he saw and

.

*^£££££Zi* ^

museums

<^^££2££

EgyP

in

of co lectu)ns of the art ,

'

the

Fernand Leger, and .'^ Braque, Robert Delaunay, b ecau* he that he soon abandoned pa.nfngs abstract

w ork

to that he saw, he began primarily were failures,

•T^SKSEt -SS ^ "attl «"££^an

y

has

h

at

^™ ™™ Vomm

the top of

bis painting

its

gjgSSJjJ mche m

wh,ch a

are quick studies

he

drawn to him

^

P

a

^

Poitiers, France,

I

oi

Notre-Dame-la-

ltb-12th centuries.

^^ ^ ^

,

le

Many

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

of the drawings from this

^

were only and „ drawings s Ke -

^^3

,

repres

.

Facade of the Cathedral

^

^

or as notations of objects

continued to experimental quality as he

^^

drawings such as Self-Portrait such as these

g

shap« m work Howeve

^

France visiting Romanesque (eleve nth-twelfth centuries), he adapted (fig. 8), which

Lndorla

«™*3™^ «** M

year were bas.s for a finished of them cons,dered as the h beginnings of abstract on n pa,nt,ngs of 1949 indicate the useful

'o"

He comple tec.rep

form » penc or ,nk

single ,n

s

|H «£**£££,,,,

Urtrfc

(fig. 2), in

3

facade a sculpture-filled 1949 (cat. no. 4

imagery continued to be intrigued by

,949

j

great variety of things, he regarded a

,n

whether natural potentially useful to him, Kelly traveled around in the spr,ng of 1949, cathedrals. One of these,

^

they

felt

ma ke a ser.es of

churches and

Greek and

,

ass0

objecTas

of

combining realism and abstraction, Avenue de pa)als de Tokyo D n the Constantin Brancus,, Georges

*"*£*£$£ ^J^ Pl

Grande,

fo

4 -^

collection. 41.9 x 30.8 cm). Private

B.

"

art

the

and t0 enjoymg

T

^^"^K

the

-.

to

foward

»

paLng that

,

WWMI -"^"H f*ir«~*^^'— ^T^^^SS^i « ^™~*™* £££ _ ^.^ ^

*.*«-...through

""

"'•" "" ,I " P

'"

wo

k

,

n the seminal y evldent ,

work

of the


of the image into a shallow space. Plant

U was

the first finished in mid-July and, according to Kelly, was While still savoring his forms' tangible relationships to

occurrence of a biomorphic form in his work.manipulation of his sub,ects through his forms found in the world, Kelly accomplished a sophisticated plane of the painting. As he said two-dimensional of three-dimensional form to the

accommodation

about the drawings: sometimes collage; the drawings always come first / work from drawings and usually color that way. and then collage later because it's easier to think about then And them. like really to get to I have let them lie around for a long time. the with stay I Sometimes too. that when I do the painting 1 have to get to like But solved. is idea the exactly idea if sketch, sometimes I follow the original the time of the painting. most of the time there have to be adjustments during the form with it and it work Through the painting of it I find the color and 1 I

Matisse and Picasso cabled him

Kdly^^cStoof the paintings, drawings, and collages of

^^^J^

™"

between the figure and the space around to elaborate on the relationship of Picassoesque work as the gouache Self- ortratt LJ49 characteristics of the sitter. Even in such a ,t , clear period the of drawings other and In this recognizable. clearly are form and h Lures or redefining te figure m not only in depiction but in restructuring hat Kelly s fundamental interest was placemen relied on the symmetrical hieratic space that surrounds it. Here, Kelly tsRelationship to the on the and page, the of edge lower the form with the ground at gure, on the articulation of the h figure, of o the of three-dimensionality the synchronizing sh ,rt-as a way of evident in Matisse's influence is pan,.,,.,,, 1

Zr

9.

Mama, Papa

Yves Tanguy,

papa Oil

est blesse),

on canvas,

Is

Wounded (Maman,

1927.

16

I

k

2s

The Museum of Modern

i

inches (92

Art,

New

I

*

73 cm).

Z^Z£££E2Z&* W

York, Purchase.

ke

the

Do„

, Self-Portrait,

(fig.

*-£*+££

15), in

figures, and, above all, mastery of form and space.

two

artist's

the picture plan!

which the evenhanded hue, the surrounding space real, the shape of the forms and the

1949

collaees to deal directly

nve nted In. described tt-resortutg o and landscapes, w.thout-as he aker to attempt no life, and made Sneaker, 1949 (fig. .6) from „med a m pe and around ,t so that e f,e in space the by supplemented

**£» «*

was not concerned with actuahty

shape on the

left

more austere companion shape equal components of the^compo

and

space of the page as

I

s

Kelly

s

on

was

the

reluctant

r

its

shapes manipulate positive and negative

G-J.

per se, yet he

abUit, to subvert the

Kelly Diane Waldman: Ellsworth

i

especially

"^/ground

re

hi

h

J

^

»«»'

J Sing

When ,

mp

PS

*

^

*£*£ mkmg anon sh p,

^^ ^ ^ ^^

ex

,

this time he

°f

that French

he c()u|d is

compared with Stoe

^^ ^ ^ ^ one

^


a

Stacked Tables, 1949

11. 10.

View of Roxbury. 1948.

1~ X 22 Penal on paper.

II

inches [43.2 x 56.5 cm).

Pencil

on

paper, 13

x 18

inches {33

lx

46.4 cm). Private collection. Private collection.

12.

Seaweed. 1949.

Pencil

on

paper,

22x17

inches

(55.9x43.2 cm)

Private collection.

«£*££^^^^£ ^J^,,^ "~^* W^" ^^ SSKSSTJS ^Sft'SSS^

of an actual arched shape is a representation appearing to be a receding pac with the white rectangle architecture. Kelly suggest yellow of its surrounding pa.nted each element of the negates it by the way he has paint for the white rectangW shape, and flat uninfected

gr^nd

r

f

a

the gr

but

S

^g^r^

he same nme b|um strokes for

that he

a

it

is

surrounds both The

h th

.

nat ; and the yellow shape

^^J^^S^S^L. ^J^^^SpLld«i

108) in Kelly's or There is no intimation of background Th's app roa P suggest a landscape set «"8isolated objects that seem to of number one of a of Yves Tanguy, for example, imaginary landscapes a language based on developed and for the subconscious

Gardens, 1949

(cat. no.

the

^^f^^d^Z

Wounded

(fig- 9).

m

many

instances the

their

a rational order in art

W *

e

and they succeeded in P' he the world around thern^ From from drawn

potential uses of the subconscious,

is

e

a grouping of

dream landscapes vlsua |, za t,on

TnUama, Papa U

^^J^^^^SSL^ ^°"~ «> ^~Se ™^ j^

archetypes of the surrogates for reality rather than language of the in myth attempt to define

the yellow

the

/became

often failed in

'

d iwaxeaess of the to the Cubist belief

e ,d

of

Cflr(fc „ s ,

,

t

in ,

s

co|)ages


n

IS.

Double

Self-Portratt,

1949 inches

k 17

Ink on paper, 10

\2h.~ \ 43.5 cm), Private collection

13.

Head

IWffe Bear^. 1949.

Newspaper cut-out on

paper, 10

ix6K

inches 14. Self-Portrait, 1949.

(26 x 15.9 cm). Private collection. Ink on paper, 16

k

12 M inches

(41.9 * J0.8 cm). Private collection.

rir,'^^s,^^=s;-i^.:^s tcutout forms on a ground. outlined as objects and treated as /

L

to

*or*

/»»

(Mv **

I

«* Aether

they're

work

atoralor a

man-mad,

somethmgl or someone*

directly ft

ve

combination of the two. Once in a while legs; a piece of architecture seen, like a window, or a fragment of an oftp shadows of things, or just how the or sometimes the space between been there. The ,d, ofth, always have in interested look. The things I'm 1

.,

would pyramuU,o like the shadow o the shadow of a natural object has existed or that a u rock, interested in the texture of the rock ami its shadow; I'm not shadow! rack but in the mass of it, and its

16. Sneaker, 1949

Ink on paper, 12

v

17 K inches

in the rectangle,

collection (31.1 x 43.8 cm). Private

was This

which he elaborated on

,„

work was produced

,n,t,a.,y

the result of

in

ue a c

hj.taj.-1 omaj es stated

,

I

after

r.

s

^ure, yet som

.

^^^

i

v /,„

lor

»

.

<

«

^

,

u o .

,

|lM

^

.

|111RS< tlu

^ '

^

it.

j^

^

?

1

Kelly Diane Waldman: Ellsworth

I

£. at

has were retained, because as Kelly Continuntgth. seen. everything includes nature, which to me Avenue Mattgnon, pencil-and-gouache Awnings, exactly to capture as .mages as deeded and saw awnings that Kelh

17

o„

^ ?"^21 -I window-called nuut

KeUy felt that the autumn,1949. one yea

conceived as a panel because

a

rf

KlJl blue-and-white


is based on a window of the Avenue Matignon facade, with each blue awning shown as Kelly "The awnings had to be copied as they were seen. There was something magical about finding it " This work is the first instance of Kelly exploring the idea of space between panels. just right." In his approach to making art, Kelly alternated between embracing elements of reality and utilizing chance to determine the basic composition. At the opening of Hans Richter: Peintures et Rouleaux at the

rectangle

saw

it.

1

was introduced to Arp by French critic Michel Seuphor, and Arp invited Kelly, Youngerman, and Coburn to visit him at his studio in Meudon on February 17. During their visit, Arp spoke of the duo-collage that he and his future wife, Sophie Taeuber, produced in the years after they first met late in 1915 (fig. 17). In describing their earliest work together, Arp wrote of their use of chance and spontaneity: /;/ 1915 Sophie Taeuber an J I carried out our first works in the simplest forms, using painting, embroidery and pasted paper. These were probably the first Galerie des Deux-Iles, in January 1950, Kelly

I

manifestations of their kind, pictures that were their own reality, without meaning or cerebral intention. We rejected everything in the nature of a copy or a description, in order to give free flow to what was elemental and

spontaneous. 1

Arp

"

Taeuber with the use of squares and rectangles arranged into a coherent geometry, and

credits

claims for himself the discovery of chance as a working method. In his studio one day, 17. Jean

Arp and Sophie Taeuber- Arp,

Duo-Collage. 1918. Paper on cardboard, $2

i

x24

inches

(82 \ hi cm). Staatlichc Museen, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Nationalgalene Berlin.

that a

drawing he had torn up, which lay

power

that the original

had

failed to do.

As Arp

relates

laws of chance.' The 'law of chance,' which embraces

from which

all life arises,

maintained that anyone

it,

all

he developed

laws and

is

this

process "'according to the

unfathomable

like the first

cause

can only be experienced through complete devotion to the unconscious.

who

followed this law was

Arp assembled

Thereafter,

Arp noticed

scraps on his studio floor, conveyed to him an expressive

in

his collages

creating pure

life."

I

21

by tearing up paper and throwing the pieces on the

floor;

from chance, assumed both a philosophical and a formal significance. Arp's fascination with chance apparently stemmed from his appreciation of Zen Buddhism. The / Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, is based on a belief in the significance of the chance aspects of events. Crucial to Arp was the fact that these collages were impersonal, left unaltered after he selected papers at random and threw them to the ground. However, a second phase was involved,

the configuration that occurred, resulting almost entirely

both

in

these

and

in his related

in which Arp deliberately somewhat until they achieved a level of completion that process entailed two separate and distinct stages, the first one being of

"automatic" drawings of the same period,

altered the chance configuration of his materials satisfied him. In all instances, the

random

or chance occurrence, and the second one of conscious formal resolution. This two-part procedure

influenced

Max

Kelly used the

drawings

(see

In relief

Arp replaced shapes

Ernst's

Dada

collages and also figured in the later development of Surrealism. In 1950

same procedure cat. no. 112 and

own

to initiate his fig.

important

series of

constructions such as Constellation with hive White

the rectangular shapes that he

employed

in his

and

fanciful constructions, painting

had seen While it is

that he

of

(fig.

reliefs

them but not

wood and glued them together others. Many were inspired by shapes out of

true that Kelly applied to his

was

own

collages

different in certain

many

of the methods that Arp had developed,

fundamental respects. Kelly was largely indifferent

and textures that fascinated Arp, preferring instead to use

either his

own drawings

or

commercial color papers or magazine pages, which he cut up into squares and rearranged, usually as squares.

18),

in nature.

the syntax that each artist used to the materials

some

Forms and Two Black, 1932

chance collages of 1916-17 with biomorphic

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; abstract imagery based on natural forms. He cut the

into witty

chance collages and automatic

21).

Where Arp's

stylistic

evolution progressed from the formal order of Cubist collage to the

improvisation of chance, and from an irregular geometry to the use of organic forms, Kelly worked

simultaneously with curves and rectangles, refusing to be confined by either a symmetrical or an


« nor predetermined conditions or systems to which he felt bound, on focus to Nevertheless, at this time he seemed did he feel the need to invent anv stylistic agenda. period in which he had been toying with a number brief after a concentration, rectangles with obsessive horizontals. of other alternatives, among them a series of extended chance, it was with the work ..I Sophie Taeuherfor predilection Arp a with shared

asymmetrical organization.

Arp

He had no

Although Kelly As a pioneer abstractionist, Taeubcr (she did not that Kelly found himself in even greater sympathy.* rectangles in numerous compositions, 1921) had explored the possibilities of interlocking

marry Arp

until

work

architectural organization of her sometimes suggesting masonry or stonework. The underlying given his own passion for Romanesque churches must have been of more than casual interest to Kelly, manipulation the spatial possibilities of color, its subtle and architectural detail. Taeuber was concerned with she by the use of line. By 1916, working in watercolor, to suggest planar depth, and its reinforcement and vertical along and rectangles arranged stnctb had already divided up the picture plane into squares abstraction geometric introducing him to many ideas about horizontal axes. Arp often credited her with and and Theo van Doesburgs paintings. « rule both Arp

some

years before he

knew

of Pie.

Mondnan's

Taeuber used squares and rectangles 18.

Oil on

wood, 23 Sx 19

III,

from

1932.

inches

(60 x

75.2 cm). Solomon R Guggenheim Museum,

New

York 55.1437.

was completely

different

element of colors and planes, implied an Their planar constructs, created by the interpla, images, nan, space out ot his Kelly, who preferred to squeeze the of depth; his was of little interest to so doing eliminated any same-size squares or rectangles, and ,n one of hs collages, Kelly used only the constricting his color, the, hierarchical relationship Rather than vesugial reference to a figure/ground or explore color independently of form. identical modules allowed him to

White Jean Arp, Constellation with Five

Forms and Two Black, Variation

intention in intimate juxtaposition, their

Kelly's.

Kelly's friend

~X«

.

Coburn

U

Together they visited galleries and arrived in Paris in spring 1949.

fc.

k«« *

•>*>'-

'

"

'

mssiisiai'Xs Wbtte Relief—and

On

relicts

drew Stacked

Fables.

B.

*

""

""

r "»

»».<..,

,

«

«.

windows

When

(

o

,

'

';

*

^

^ ^j^^S^^

of the cathedral.

'

"''

"

^; B tu

^^

tciPans

''

'

of they arrived at the west coast

Toklas. Kelly

an

tllu

.

,„

,

Man

,

, „„ J sUVC »,

Diane Waldman

'

llsworth Kelly

that

B eUe -lie

e

*

°<

"d

^ '

-

Kelh

for onl,

^ L,, GerLde

i%^a=S£Ss SSSS - - 19

uM

.

took a trip to

to spend the summer few days before Kelly deeded Coburn accompanied himback the Hotel de Bourgogne.

companion, Alice

""'"

incorporating String

July 4, 1949, Kelly and

t0 see the stained-glass

"

museums and

,

Stem's

WM «*

™*

B

«

in


-

August. During the

summer and

eXngmg ideas about

work. In the dialogue that

their

corresponded to the south of France, they to Kel ly s essential ensued, many of the concepts

when Coburn went

afterward,

of chance and ,n Surreal.* Kelly was interested in the Dada concept Uter work began t0 form. Although movement. He simply wanted to use had any desire to dedicate himself to either artists preconceptions about art. While many Surreahst

rlTnver

means of ridding himself of his on operates o fimshed work and moved beyond relying had adop" d approaches that led to more „ta such art, Kelly did not abandon ance a'nd ranlm actions in making their Masson Andre by produced and spontaneous as those drawings from this period are as ,mmed,ate

he^d

as as a

*-*»».&«

.nspired

and Joan Miro

in the late

1920s.

taken intermittently exemplified by photographs that he has developed that they were discarded; early photos were so small and poorly e 1949. Many of these at the Villa La Combe, and reprinted. In August 1950, while staying g others were retrieved, enlarged, on in Youngerman, Seyr,g ,the mother of Delphme Seyr.g = of Hermine' ^cabana beach a mcudmg subjects photographed a variety of the Atlantic coast south of Royon, he villa itself, he and a shelled bunker (cat. no 161). At the 160), no. (cat no. 158), a br,ck wall (cat. room^and torn h,s to up the play of light on the metal stairs leading

The random order

that Kelly

saw

in

nature

is

2

W^ers

tZZ

photographed the shadows cast by

19.

[914. Pablo Picasso, Student with Pipe. March

Gesso, sand, pasted paper, .ins

is.

28

ix23

oil,

and charcoal on

inches (73 x S8.7 cm).

The Museum of Modern

Art,

New

York.

they reminded him of his that captured his imagination either because Kelly s useful in some as yet unknown fashion. or because he felt that they might be pable organic quality. Even his mo t most of his work to date demonstrate a pa

a balcony (cat. no.

own work

159)-,mages

photographs and indeed

or natural^ hat geometric panels of 1950 stem from a humanism abstract works, such as the severely his point of departure. Each work is evident need for using elements of reality as is a consequence of his exactly but environment, which he re-creates not by replicating derived from a particular aspect of his shape and scale), human exceed (few of his works from this period by capturing its essence through scale collages, of color the or or some paintings, color-whether the black and white of drawings, photographs, human of terms ,n so intensely focused that we can see it other paintings, and sculpture. The result is i

, passion rather than abstract fact. shadows of a the play of sunlight on the Seme, the Kelly set about capturing reflections cast by u nature of pipes on an outside wall thus.faring flight of stairs, and the configuration _

railing

on a

the steps 11," 1950 (fig. 20 collage.- In the collage Study for "La Con.be Kelly made original the of version fragmented lines of the railing's shadows into a

what' had been do.ng break up the straight

,

in

shadows at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m., and then made three different studies, recording the changing narrow of nine juxtaposed vertical rectangles each three paintings based on them. They are composed version Each at various angles against stark white. rectangle featuring a network of thick red lines set into a pure color statement. La Combe I, phenomena natural of distills the shadows, a transformation painting, in which only the truncated lines indicate 1950 (cat. no. 10), is a five-foot-long red-and-white which Kelly the next. In La Combe //, 1950 (see p. 42), the transition from one narrow rectangle to as is the emphasized, are units rectangular individual executed as a hinged, nine-panel folding screen, the Kelly February 1951 In La Combe stairway. zigzag nature of the motifs original locat.on-the exhibition celebrating the with it the series. (He sent La Combe III to an completed La

Combe

III,

and

Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, thus gaining exposure in interest The La Combe series is the first concrete evidence of his

seventy-fifth anniversary of the School of the

the United States while he

was abroad.)

almost no indication of their original source ,n nature. abstraction and formalization: the paintings show an approximate equivalent of the play of light By hinging La Combe J/'s panels together, Kelly created through a process of visual "feedback, which has and shadows rippling across the surface of the steps, was the painting. The La Combe series's insistent image the effect of obscuring the work's character as a dominance the loosen to means a found experiments, in which he logical outcome in painting of his collage

,n

of the figure over the ground.


>

g

I

,

1

y^

tearing or cutting

and dropping the pieces onto

.,

or floor!

Kbbto p

diametrical! y , >pp osed Kelly the opportunity to juxtapose petsonal-frotn which the Afferent the mechanical and the

20. Study for

m

£

phcatu

^

>

thecu

lements

K h

,

,

"La Combe U,* 1950

Collage on paper, 25 M x 31

!

inches

tnr-iESssr^Jws

collection. [64.8 v 80 cm). Private

into another m.nute units that he then reassembled and I„ taking this new direction,

,

fflO*

^*^^^^

ougn, Kelly made another breaktft collage and automatic drawing, they common a P have collages of 19SI series Several chance ,

from chance portance to the

P

,

V

'

image cut it morwe He then made a drawing ive o S **, -arranged them in four rows ol a

-.

^

/..,

u

them

At

configuration. panels into a different

?

*^

firstMKdJrtt

>

[lut

,,,,,,.

on but he ended up deciding c„nf,gurations indefinitely, but KeUy pan in the same fashion no. 131 developed u October )5 n g r» P

M.

21. torn

Drawing Rearranged by Chance,

25 [nk and collage on paper, „4

s

x

*

19

was exhibited

I

inches

painring

Kellypoints out VAUlier IX. 1952-53. that had appeared vh „e bird (a motif a w wi smaller faceted forms

49 s^mi Private collection

:

i

)ianc

Waldmant

E//f«'orf* Ke//y

ec a

1

wa

inpother

I

iated ,

,,

,„

eleme nts on ,„

work

a receipt,

„,,,„„

r

Meschers

in

oril

k

, nJ ,,

He pamted , c ,„ inches square.

^ ^

Main Naud« rearrange

arrange the panels « ment Mes< ,,,,, g

^ ^^

.

on

tefividnnttj

^£™*£££ ^ ^ ^IJLta. J"""*™" P» ^^

a adm,red by Braque. Kelly, b eminent artis an such of attention he problem helped him solve a

195

I

un

^^

|

^ ^M

MJ ^.P

Mescfcers

£

ment

ol

r1 ,,, v „,,

KclK lu j glimpsed the

artis. friend llc

^

Study ,„

[ wcess(

;

a his

^ ,,

,

.

,_„„,,,

™ft?°t%£]a*££ d

cabinetmaker cut a series of in V,„/v to match the squares

denser cluste, (

In a caf

of the

much

J

-

In

Bn^trote

u« by

^JJ*%£™ ^

painted black hands.

be

.

§

J^«£^2SlS«

W:

^

1

and are no one portion dominates, factor Ilu open pre. organizing the as series of square* was Arranged by hance, 1951 (fg. 24 „, int0 49 Squares and -rate "< "™ brushstrokes in Study for J tunclame work,,,, w.th two was Kelly works, both (fig. 8 23). In continuing manifested by his ep aration of parts (as l squares mto a smgl -'.'^ of b the arrangemen. b . was firs, exhib e CHS, 1951 (cat. no. 12), on a scat .1 dm g wth working was in which he a dream, he,otted downj the next morning ,

.

1

^

..

.

pim[m

the

various

L95 single ...mas. seen a „

,,

,n

, KI d th e

galler, that Kelly s old the director of the nm ,. th king „ n he

principal of one of thai painting's

,„

forms-

numerous Ate lier series)-into Braque>s I d ,, v Mi , , (


I\

//

I

//U-\\\i 24. Brushstrokes

Cut

into

49 Squares and

Arranged by Chance, 1951. Brushstrokes 23. Study for "Cite":

Squares and

Cut

into

10

Ink and collage on paper, 13

Arranged by Chance, 1951.

I

J4.9

x

X X 14

inches

35.6 cm). Private collection.

X IS M inches Ink and collage on paper. 12% Private collection. (31.1 X 38.4 cm).

22. Pages from a Magazine. 1950 t

ollage of printed matter

15

s

\

inches (39.7

on paper.

\ J.2

cm).

Private collection.

Heim. designers as Pierre Balmain and Jacques of Repay, director oi Youngerman, wrote a )oint letter to H.lla with together In sor.ne 19S1, Kellv,

dements without

text,

wh,eh

shall

aim

painting, a closer contact at establishing a larger scale of

between


»

original l"hi contemporary architecture. and the wall, and a new spirit ol art accompanying summation a number forty) not onlj represented group of lorn six ink drawings and collages (they now was catalyst for his work o th. law 1950s but color, and form, of his earlier involvement with line, the th. paper as the constituent features ..1 the work, and the 1960s. Using the page and tin edges of the lines, vertical consisting of horizontal and hook began with the subject of "line," featuring works a b, 119.1-1 19.40). "Form" was introduced diagonal, the curve, the circle, and the grid (cat. nos. was represented by a page each of red, "color" and rectangle; square, and a mandorla, a triangle, 19. 18). urves (cat. no. line and torn,, as in Greet, yellow blue, and green, and then combined with Foundation Guggenheim from the |ohn Simon Mem In April 1952 he receded notification in forcy, a v.l lage on the 1952 ol summer the spent le turned down. that his hook proposal had been mer, and gave h.m two hundred there in August, took him ou. river Marne. Reba, visited him '

the

artist

.1

..

I

<

I

I

1

dollars to enable

him

to

move

the

following month

new

to a

stud,,, in Paris, a,

21,

<

t<

des Fleurs.

March, as director of the Guggenheim Museum. Unbeknownst to Kelly, she had been forced to resign :ehnqu,sh.ng hei R. luggenheim Scholarship |us, bel and had recommended him tor a Solomon he wrote ,0 he,: was nullified In the turn of events, fhat November position, a gesture of support that I

director. ...I too hear that you are no longer the Foundations failed. But I know you have to hear that the scholarship has you are a real frumd. up knowing you, I thank done all you could to help me any con, em fox my shorn, has who one 0/ the leuto this tune you have been

'

25. Dress by Pierre Balmain, In Kelly; (Paris),

photo published

am unhappy to am disappointed

i

with fabric designed

VArt el

in

la

Modi

March 1952.

&

^^^s^s^^^sSB «<-'--

Par., the white Window, Museum of Modem Art natural phenomena AH I, observed aspects of

altering certain

*e to

equatmg tppearance of the bridge arch, us color changed drasticalh

bi

it

are startling.

adjustments

0.

He

contour and the use

Sr3 r

26. Silk (.brie designed b)

Ml)

foi

:;!;;'

ol the

fete then reducing the nun, b of hundreds of fragments, . o b pronounced. he u*e o„ color became more to at simplification The.r extreme

tahamand

Private collection.

pan

to

mass and

Ucancet

23

color.

as separate panels

Kelly Diane Waldman: Ellsworth

faithful

~^^™ "^ Xg* ; ch ca

^^

>

~£ *

,

si ;-:::: I

Company, Zurich, 1M1.

cu

,

™«

h KeUy

>

a

epre-n

J^^^^S^E

,,

J rc

ju

.

t

m ^.

anJ ,,. ,

ete

.

KeU)

^ ^^^ ^ ^^ fa

sculptures such as Pony, 1959

„„

u

haVe

,

„.«.

„„ |m

* quickl, test

^

^ ^^ M

e

of his ideas

and


— He was

number of variations, many of remained dormant until he pursued them again m later works. Kelly tested color arrangements and variations in black and white. He also experimented with horizontal stripe compositions that, although he never made them into paintings, prefigure subsequent developments in Color-field painting during the 1960s by artists such .is Gene Davis, Morris Louis, and Kenneth Noland. Although Kelly could work out the general proportions .\n^.\ spatial arrangements of his yet find in his painting.

which he soon used as studies

able to wrest from collage a surprising

for paintings, while others

forms with collage, the colors themselves were rather rudimentary. Because Kelly pasted up whatever

— which varied considerably from — he had to determine appropriateness of

colored papers he could find in

the United States

directly

the

on the canvas.

He

discovered that scale was

color relationships, and that the 27. Piel

i

Mondrian. Composition with Grid V

beckerboard with Dark

Oil "n

cam

I

(

1919.

olors,

inches (84 \ 102 cm),

iseum, The

1

1

i

way two

changed dramatically when he used them a

-s

-

:

— — :i

n

-

-

"

to the

make

work he

did later

the final adjustments

determining the outcome of

when juxtaposed

in a small

his

sketch or collage

in a larger

work. Since he worked with color

in a certain loss

In

of spontaneity, but the scale of the paintings

arrangement of black and white and the luminous color more than compensated for the informality of the chance collages. intricate

Paintings such as Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 (cat. no. 16), have prompted comparisons to Mondrian's Composition with Grid 8; Checkerboard with Dark Colors (fig. 2") and Composition with

Grid

9;

Checkerboard with Light Colors, both 1919. Although Kelly had not seen these particular paintings

time he painted canvases such as Colors for a Large Wall and other similar works, he was well aware of Mondrian's work. Whereas Mondrian's checkerboards are about the absolute and are rigorously

^B

!.

«y

when his use of a balanced asymmetry is at its peak, canvases such as Kelly's Colors for a Large Wall retain the element of chance. The essential structure of Mondrian's work is the articulation of a series of vertical and horizontal black lines that define a limited but palpable space. regular in composition, even

With few exceptions, Mondrian created an irregular network of rectilinear shapes defined by line into which he placed his primary colors. Kelly's painting, although it seems regular, allows each color

tI

its

own

individuality. Colors for a

of multiple panels in

.ft..

form nor ground

28. Piet

colors looked

to

at the

i^«

^^ 4

a vital factor in

and

painting solely by looking at the collage.

requirements of the picture plane resulted

::

Pans period

intuitively, it was works such as Study for "Seine," 1951 (cat. no. 1 15), Kelly's dependence on natural phenomena is once more evident, forming the basis for his pattern of light and dark. He organized the play of light reflections within a grid, which he filled in by progressing from the two sides to the center. The position of any one form was determined entirely by chance, allocated by pulling numbered pieces of paper out of a hat. Instead of coaxing the fragmented play of light on water into a variation on Pointillist methodology, Kelly decided to impose his own more arbitrary system, which dictated the outcome of his color collages, including the series Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance, 1951 (see cat. nos. 1 16-18). In certain paintings, such as Seine, 1951 (cat. no. 14), and Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance, 1951-53 (cat. no. 15), however, the formal

impossible to foresee the outcome of

and the

n

his

his colors

Mondrian. Broadway Boogie Woogie,

in the painting.

The painting

is

the

form and the wall

is

the

ground ...

a

work midway

between painting and sculpture."" According to Kelly, the asymmetrical distribution of colors was determined by chance and therefore cannot be construed as a debt to Mondrian. Indeed, in this respect, a much closer correspondence

1442-43.

Large Wall, which consists of sixty-four panels, is his first painting which each panel consists of only one color. As Kelly has noted: "There is neither

in

both procedure and outcome would seem to exist with such works as Arp and Taeuber's

Duo-Collage. Oil on canvas, SO

x

50 inches (127 x 127 cm)

Kelly's practice of giving color

rhe

Museum

ol

Given anonymi

Modem

An, New

Yoi

own

concrete "reality" was largely his own invention. He wanted one developed by Mondrian, whose rectilinear subdivision of space can be viewed as an extension of Cubism. For Mondnan, the Cubist armature was essential, even though he relinquished the black grid in his late works, such as Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43 (fig. 28). But its

to avoid using a system like the

even

in these

grid.

He moved from

back to

a

works, Mondrian arranged

his colors so as to retain at least the implicit vestiges of such a complex, fragmented image to a simplified one and, near the end of his career, complex image again. Kelly shuns such complexity, eliminating a sense of three-dimensional a


cither lines using two devices: juxtaposing solid areas ol color without benefil oi equivalent of "passage" ») and emphasizing or white spaces (which in Mondrian seem to function as the its own space. dominion over color each giving by the concrete nature of color

work by

space from his

Pioneer abstractionists such color as a purely symbol., one,

a

.is

Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Mondrian regarded the rol< Theosophy (a spiritual movement whos<

ol

mystical belief founded in

based on symbolic notions ol form and followers often explained spiritual concepts b) using metaphors a new "reality." Kelly endowed each c^m^\ color, each the) meaning to color). By giving a particular existence on a single panel, although this independent it an color with a particular "reality" by giving than constricting his color, enabled was by no means his only priority. The regulars of his forms, rather expressed In geometric means new "reality," the For Arp, form. him to free color from subservience to form, from which he derived a small vocabulary and by chance, eventually came to be allied with the human and sculpture, formulating a "concrete art. of organic shapes that he used in collage, painting, relief,

Arp applied the Cubists' compression

of space

...to a

Kelly also adopted. But the particular distinction

m

that single plane to a series of reliefs, a practice work was his juxtaposition ol ...dividual

Kelly's

horn the representation of subjects in nature to and then HnalU to a deliberate selection ol colors, extended arrangements of color by chance, which he shaped his enlargement of scale-the dual means In which he to the gradual reduction of form and the

monochrome

Hcnn

Matisse,

Gouache on I

v.

paper,

1950.

/(</;»;./,

l

»4 x

inches (238 8

>2

cm) Statens Museum

for

Kunst,

(

in a single

work.

Kell) progressed

"

work to read a relationship between Kelly's twin concern for color and shape, it is plausible attribute one could also master's late cutouts (see fig. 29). While and that of Matisse, especially the French secm Kelly S drawings seen be can contour-as of line and to Matisse an influence on Kelly in terms color innovations in of hooked line that Matisse favored-Kelly s cat nos IV and 133), in the type which representation element in independent color as an owe little to him. Unlike Matisse, Kelly treats become form. Ke itself but to form does not use color to define no longer serves any overt role, and pairs but occasionaU often m colors, ol alignment or grouping derated color through chance, and his expression. In this respect, serves no function Other than its self and nonhierarchical In larger numbers, is with "naming colors. he is is he has explained, primanlv concerned .ceme with exploring his color sequences, he w, At the same time that Kcllv was developing Black Square and no 22) (cat. In works such as « bite Square the potential of black and white! with the ectangk. them identifying In the colot turns both 1953, he emphasized each of tare but importan m > onlj and as he had used black Ths was", athe, radica departure tor Kelly, '

29.

panels

x

openhagen

to"

,11

1949 and I

ZL

in

oh

Window V

(cat. no. 6)

.951 ta 1949 Kcllv

singie-colot panel painting

and November Painting

s.,w several exhibitions oi

hr

panels, each

e

of a

Diane Waldman:

I

llsworth Kelly

both

I

>5U,

and

in

s.

P

,

^fj^™^ —the ««*2 ^ ^2 ^^L «.

STSSSSfiiaK 25

II).

f^^^ij^S^

Unted 1952-53, before he returned ... he 1952 (cat. no. 18 .prefigures for a White Wall, In

(cat. no.

black-and-white pa.ntmgs In Picasso,

States,

S.

l

rec tangulat

and

,

da, k b

Pa,,,

a lighter blue,, are

serve here as the


mJmsJ I M). Kell) at

Broad

Strccl studio.

New

Jl.Kdh

at

Coemics

Slip studio.

New

V,rk.

l i

",i

York, 1956

}2.

l

c

oenties Slip,

,u to

right:

New

I'-rk,

Delphiâ&#x201E;˘ s.^ig.

Duncan Youngerman,

1958

Robcn

Kelly, lack

Indiana,

Youngerman,

and Agnes Martin

and lighter blue and act as leverage on them. The means of separation between the colors pink, orange, to the same plane. hues, however, are adjusted so as to hold them deeded to expenment with different formulas. In Red Kelly color, about ideas In working out his

colors (with blue repeated no. 17), Kelly stacked five squares of those four In Red Yellow Blue their placement in each column of squares. twice) m each of toe columns but varied ol seven vertical rectangular panels to create a row White and Black, 1953 (cat. no. 19), he juxtaposed White, on white, and blue. In collages such as Nine Colors solid colors: blue, red, whue, black, yellow, wall. The end to the panels the of relationship the with 1953 (c it no 124), though, Kelly was concerned of pioneer shifting planes of color in a manner rem.mscent result was the creation of a white field and ideas. those from moved away parr most for the geometric abstraction, although by this time Kelly had

Yellow Blue White, 1952

(cat.

a painting, to Henri Seyrig (the father of Delphine), At the age of twenty-eight, Kelly had sold only one of lack his by hospitalized for |aund,ce. Discouraged noted archeologist. Late in winter 1954, Kelly was and in need at Cite des Fleurs the previous autumn, studio his recognition in Paris, by his eviction from he went York. He left Pans in July. On arriving in New York of money, Kell) decided to move to New and found the work that he saw there extremely to visit Rauschenberg, at his stud,., on 1 ulton Street, and an all-white painting that Rauschenberg 1953-54 the red combine paintings from interesting, including

painter whom he had first met in Pans 1951 and 1952. Kelly also visited Fred Mitchell, a With Mitchell's help Kelly Manhattan. Lower and who was the first artist to settle in Coenties Slip, in took a night |ob at the United support himself, he found a studio nearby, at 104 Broad Street; and, to who worked for Sidney Jams, visited Kelly at his States Post Office In |4sS art dealer David Herbert, to Betty Parsons that she give him a show. Broad Street stud,., and, impressed by his work, recommended larger loft at 3-5 Coent.es remained at Broad Street until July 1956, when he moved to a

had painted

Kelly

in


U.

Kelly's studio in

(

hatham, New Ybrl White

Paintings on right wall

«

urve

[left]

\

tnd

Black with White Triangle, both 1973.

J3. Kell) .u Hotel des Artistes studio,

New

York,

1965

M,n Farlv

in

Street, |aspc

1957 Youngerman too

wife settled at Coent.es Slip, with his

jonns Pvnressionists with

whom

puns

and

they had

little in

son.

Duncan

common, and

s-rs^ttSE^-3 i*s .jEssr— ESESSSX ,bo„

i„.

»*«*

,

;;;//:; ;

i~

Diane Waldman:

I

Si

„„„. s ,„,«

,.,,„„'

llsworth Kelly

>*-

»*

.,„ »,/,..,,

™«.

m***"**' «**«*

*-

/•'*'

to

""

-

;

*

and then

*


,/„.„,

Cum idea o/

works that Paintings JS. Ellsworth Kelly. Beit) Parsons (...Hers.

[956 Left to

and

right:

New

W*«t

Reflection, I9S1-SS, 52,

1951-1956

York, /''^/"<'

at

„<„s. ,„v

M to****

work

in Paris

s/'.'cv

seen ffcroxgfc glass as a

Kelly presenteu

Window,

begins with the

ends with Black Square and of Modern Art, Paris and

Wmte

Square. «.

monochrome."

mapycu

...

-u

work ind

Uic Paric

New

his

\ork work were

the

Ma> 21-June

B,

Bridge IrcA 1955,

F

and B/acA R/pe,

I

uniq ue.

^J^.,,,,^ „,,;,,, „,,/,

had

„ )IHItW

,

„,„,,

,„

o/,

,arts

«««s

*** -

«

circles or developed an shrunk to a pair of mutually eclipsing range but a metaphyseal image. is not a mountain

irregular black horizon that

w

len ft*™-™*"" together on a great sauare arge colored sauares, tacked .Kelb has ptOure contemplated a austerity of tiled floor raised to the upright young <h,s Mondrian's ghost might clam but that bol y coh „ iz ed territory that X

J

U^&^XS££** - ^ — «**

Concerned

the painting

wh

not with the

last

moment-the

wall,

and

in

and the

act of

white.

one coin,

painting-but with the

the image perceived, ob,ect,f,ed,

'^;;:;i^:r;:;S:c=^

palette to

f

artists

'

lasting

r

es

t

than Kelly

in

COl

moment

combmmg were

N

one color

wman Ad

thre compelling than any sumlanty. These Rothko, hut the differences are more

r 5S^^^^ S

**

H°fr

She

of the mage,

and recreated He also found

successfully as in Ins single-color panels, or in this respect reductive who were as

The only other

d

wanted to create an using color solely as form,

k or w ***«£ and

-^^ =ii

expanse

space

£

w


irested near-mystical experience. Kelly was no, colot p aligning canvas, the extending canvas bu, in

to create

Igle

expanse

in the limitless

.,

:1s

ol

&**£**%•

<^*£%£"

moduUr

as separate

could hav< and by suppress,,,, hts brushstroke Kell) anv suggestion of space within the canvas, torn, and the rectangular biomorphic with and be both figure and ground. lis preoccupation with the shape o bses t-.ived, as eonTait was nlrnorahle bm as a field of acnon, as th Abstract canvas tire Instead of regarding anv interest in the image within the field. the wall, to the room, as an object that relates to Kelly wanted his work to function

1™ ^

^- <~

I

,

SS "SK*. M.

t0

most

jus, as

appeared

i,

is

the

(as in

Wtafaw

M««« o/

cutouts of h,s

abstract tmages over magazine they were of mterest that he chose because

I

Hodem

sub.ecK

Art I,

,

and

-sonall

^

L

harmony Actions as a veh.de

coexists in

and

stability,

of the

,

and

the pas,

iving n ,

(

,s

for change. ,n

1

constant confhc

oenties

Jp

United States than

his

more

Many

of entry tor history as , port luxury Kell a necessity and a ,.,,,.

iberty

I

ol (h

a

is

totemtc for

e -V

,

<

I

54), a

Lograph, P g n 19 70 ;

as Curvt

ia,

-

in

Diane Waldman

,

upstate

New

Ellsworth Kelly

,

„ kU [n

ePe

««££*£

^'™™%Mboat,

its

ol -he Statue ol

^^

^

I

York. S

^ ^

,

RfoeWkwl Stofam, 1980

.

*-

-

owet Manhattan, and

,

^

'

ce

,„

tha, anticipate h,s

°^ ™ ^ anarcmy fa* *

had stopped

m|

I

e

hapes fheme photographic image

segment of the female Martm n h Canbbea tropical island ol Sam,

short., after he

,

postcard collages are the

's

g

J

uch as

usual contrasts to hi

of the

Spencertown,

^

m that Kell y coUag

;

(cat. „o.

19

Haul una,

In other, later collages, ast two decades. 1984 cat no and The Young Spartans,

56), .rente strong usi ng then, to 1

Dut h

--'"'"*•'";,

The precursor to works such

i„ sculpture.

work

count

nvolved' Kel. e dire,

£

gh, the pas,

,

jml

h ^P°"°£

fascmat on w*h

|mn ^

m

^

ep,

abstract paintmgs of

«

^ ^^^^ ^ ^ ^^ ^^

in Paris,

w.ththe P

«•«*«£S£

a of the collages indicate

J^

'

vj ork,

KSSTd^oSlSS

^

-

.,

o h,m bot

-I

I

ower Mannatt;

own hold forms. H,s u* of .mages o images to contrast with his ? Y„rk ( it, is in keep.ng w.t 'wor ,,,„„, g in New m part played a s.gn.hcan. and working in Paris, which ry, serves^ a a P os ory fo with the present, whtch history

**£*£

collage thatKel,

firs,

^^^^SZi

,n ,s of imagery. As he had thos. notable places of .merest, especall)

field

within hts the

1954 .at. no. 125),

rt* K,, «,,„,

"4en

I inaj

iron,

1974, while

in

,„.

of the

^ ^^

Ifc

K**

body

.,,,„,,,,-,

bec0 mes par,

ag

,

(eat. no.

,„

h,

^.^ ,

^^

lS „l.„K

^

photograph

*»*

°l

tk

'


J6.

Watet

lily,

;-. <,,wss.

1968.

Pencil on paper, 29

x

23 inches [73.7 x 58.4 cm]

(72.4

I'm an collection

1961.

Wat( rcolor on paper, 28 x

\

11

inches

^~ .2 cm). Private collection.

perimeters of the postcard image.

collage element beyond the collages, Kelly extended a corner of this scale-not unlike the enlarged shape that he used in fan larger a is New to the most recent collage, that is much more a sense of abandonment and eroticism paintings from the 1970s and 1980s-and

subliminal in his paintings and sculptures. Kelly used manv of the sketches that he

worked on

in his

studio at Coenties Slip as the basis for

*ÂŤ*>"ÂŤ

on \\ line in the drawing White Curve paintings or sculptures at a later date. The sinuous fell across a white page, that wire a from traced careful observation, (cat no. 126), which was based on again as the bottom of the black shape in Black Ripe, - 55 and edge the left as repeated Lm be seen into paintings, ideas these ot some 34). While reworking edee of the blue shape in Bay, 1959 (cat. no. prefigure his also mid-1950s The postcard collages of the Kelly began to think in terms of sculpture. like the mid-1950s The nor begin to make until .959. .merest m large-scale sculpture, which he did Coenties In h,s and advance. have been a time of adjustment, assimilation, I

early Paris

penod, appear to

exacting geometric forms that had from the mid- 1950s to the early 1960s, the more curved or replaced by irregular shapes that were either characterized manv of his Parisian paintings were the curved forms ,n paintings such as Black mgular Unlike Kilometer Marker or the 1949 Mandorla, the contain both active and quiescent shapes within Ripe, Bay, and Block Island II, 1960 (cat. no. 41), no. 38) cat. 1959 Rebound, and such as Bar, South Ferry, neutral field of the rectangle. But in canvases edge the cut off by is shape the part of the field so that the ground has either been diminished or become the form so that it incorporates the framing situate could Kelly this way, of the picture support. In Parisian images that are much more dynamic than those in his rectangle. The Coenties Slip pa.ntings feature new These forms of the Abstract Expressionists. work. This was undoubtedly his response to the active ground suggest a need to find his psychological images coincided with Kelly's move to New York, and Indiana, Martin, Rosenquist, and Youngerman)with that he shared in his new environment (a tendency Slip paintings

I


^

m

Kllan Kelly,

{9

on

Pencil Pi ivati

vs.

(

on

Pencil

I'm

''/

urve, Radius;

paper,

.

197

11x13

i

inches (27.9 * 14.9

collection

I

x J4 inches (109.2

43

1982.

Sr.,

paper,

x 86.4 cm).

ate collection.

u-,nU he* wn« icuteh iware was an environment m which Expressions. This stage dominant school of Abstract freedom while working m Pa desir e for anonymity and

«

I-,,.

especially as

it

»-

In addition

Kelly also created „

erous plan,

reconsideration of Ins

first

drawmgs

ls

d

'

,,

ejand,

collages

for

dra

- mesear J^Jj^^SK

>40s, drawings ol the are drawings he alone. shaping space with line o its form and with the mage H centered Kelly's fascination he form space a oun I

£«££*«

n he and emphasizes h,s mter pi cem e„«mv« the none o have stroke these drawings si they .^ -' which in the ease with a plant

^

pear effortless

I-

world. In observation of the real

drawmgs such

forms

h( ,th the

J

„„

,

^

Boston and

d

sculptures, just

$1

,,,,,„,

age

ulp u

^

Waldman: Ellsworth Kelly

°<

concern

is

,

,„

,

images

n

continuous

^^.^

„,

,

images

J^ ^^ ^

m ol

fc

such as configurations Drawings

^^M .

h

,,,„„._

equivalent three . dimensional

S

(cat. no.

^^

^

}2) , the

^ |

™™™ ™™^*

as Sumac, 1959

e. In

«taw«Ju

three -dimensional forms mto turning painted plana,ta his sculpture, fuH, same the feature Water ,.,,,, l9 68 (fig. 56), Similarly,

s

^^

mampu lated

.

, ays a

-**

^m ^^ ^ ^ ^^

.

.

>

«-

$

e pa demarcation of the space o nd around m spac the shape and in

to his in e e Parisian drawings, led so plant forms into a

mam

^ ^^

,

Kelly's interest in

«

rf

I

line

amj sculpwre , ,„

,

n

,

'

J

,

conque r.

j

'

.

image of

t0

|n|

mature

.,

his pr imar>

where

g

relationsh.p-the with a figure/ground the

:ld

,

K

'

to his

^.^

however, as

a

I

from the then-

marked contrast

„,

^J^HK ^„

«

possibilities young student in Paris the his mark » make to painter who was anxious drawmgs and man 5 to producing

as a

Mm

of his isolation

;',,„„„

, I,

'« Gate, 1959

(cat.

in

19). S

l959

.

planar

,


be less (probably because he wanted his images to me tcto color in the majority> of his drawings referred line preferred space the relationship between the sub)ect and

oL vertically with

he

a plant stem, as in Grass,

1961

(fig.

37). or hortzonta

ly,

One

as in

Stroke

and

of his subject to explore the formal possibilities

xemplify his use of natural forms fashion, Kelly than'organizing the forms in a rigid geometric page as abstract form The cluster of potential its diminishing without to retain us own individuality, Lemon Brand,, dtagonal length of the paper, while ,n l961 .cat. no. .46), traverse the dramatic fo to h the paper around the plant serves as a 964 (cat no. 142), the negative space of luxuriant that ,t .961 (cat. no. 14. ), the foliage appears so In another drawing Wild Grape, model Kelly has eliminated the v,ne and rivaling the plant that served as its literally. pattern of growth without depicting ,t "d an interlacing of leaves that mimics the c stroke with ew even an used generally and page, Kelly To maintain tht- continuity between image around it area the making without line served to define shape gratuitous flourishes. This economy of that conf.gurat.on horizontal plant leaves are arranged in a Iserv, t to the image. In Wild Grape, the The page. the of corners and interacts with the center, sides, and spreads across two large sheets of paper the w,th possess if Kelly was not as concerned reams an autonomy of shape that it would not s^ace P Because his line is unmflected and of line and surface plane as he is.

These Ih

2

v

>^jÂŁ>ÂŁÂŁ*

Set

lm

';,,,,

ll

3efanCni q-j

40. Large Leaf. [996.

on pape* 24 Private collection.

v 19 inches (61

n tegra

k

48.3 cm)

<""** |^Roy

L

and of itself, his drawmgs expression to form but not eloquent in Oldenburg's much freer style of drawing Claes to are they unmflected drawings than 'Grape th.s day. Such drawings as has continued to make plant drawings to

WM

Kelly

m

L.chtenstein

are closer in spin, to

983

c

s

1980

no 147),

F* .982 (cat. no 145) Sunflower no. .43), Datura, .982 (cat. no. .44), are 1989 (cat. no. 149), and Large Leaf, 1996 (fig. 40) Ins. Two Irises 1983 (cat. no. .48), Siberian and its shape, the individual character of the plant, .ts consistent with Kelly's earlier concerns with more may be as descriptive as earlier ones, but they can ako be relationship to the page. The latest drawings most of exacting in their replication of form than SprovisatLal ,n nature, more lyrical in tone, and less than ,n h.s previous plant as a form in nature is now less explicit the earher ones. The identity of a importance of form tor its the by nature is overshadowed work, as in Large Leaf, where the reference to (cat.

'

"From 1949

to the present Kellv has also

drawn

his self-portrait

style to the plant

and of strangers who fascinated him. Similar in plays and in form as it relates to the page. Memory

and portraits of friends and lovers

drawings, they are studies

in

anatomy

rather, they are close little or no role in these works; them have one of the individual sitter. The ma,or.ty of observations of nature, of the particular character masks emotion. delineated with an objectivity that carefully thing in common: they .re observed and the Byzantine as and Romanesque the of influences, especially Kelly's early self-portraits reflect a variery in their drawings plant the portraits most closely resemble well as the Modernists. Most of the other Allan perhaps and works, predominates in many of these spare use of line and minimal detail. Simplicity spare. most artist's father on his deathbed-is the Kelly Sr. 1982 (fig. 39)-a portrait of the own works ,n pencil, gouache, and collage from the late of his ''while Kellv had often used many 12.1, for his paintings and sculptures (see cat nos. 1940s to the 1960s as notations or working models having simplicity working drawings from 1970 to the present are the utmost m 1

2 J,

more

and to

I

30), his later

do with shape and sue than with color

relationships. Studies for "Yellow

Red andjlue Curves

91~ 1973 (fig. J8), and Lines ,4/4) Rad.us: (64 197. (cat no. 134), Curve, Radius: which Kelly has honed his concern for form, are just several examples of the way in

,

1982

mm his

interest in the abstract

form underlying natural phenomena to

his interest in

form

tor

its

cat. no. first

own

140.

tentative

sake.

The

hut they no that they are the basis for all of h.s forms references to nature are eve, present, in the sense his forms command of the way they once did. Kellys lunge, have the power to affect his decision-making

now

stems from form

itself.


,

showed there regularly from 1956 to 1963, the year he Side. In 1965 he moved mto the Hotel des Artistes, at West 67th Street on Manhattan's Upper Wesl and continued to show had his first exhibition at the Sidney Jams Gallery (across the hall Iron, Parsons) works, one of several Kell) produced there until 1971. In 196 t, before he moved into Ins new studio,

Kelly joined the Bettv Parsons Cillery and 1

rectangular shape no. 42), features a red rectangle below a curved blue set 1963 (cat. no. 43), a painted aluminum relief, Kelly against a vibrant green ground. In Blue on Blue, not did he series that panel overlaps another), a the stage for his later panel paintings (in which one painting, < hange Green, 1964 (sat. no. 44), companion Its 1990s." begin to exploit fully until the During the lower hall ol a green rectangle consists of a truncated orange egg-shaped form occupying mm. and n cat. no. panels together, as in Black over White, this period, Kelly also began joining a long latter two and S5). In one ol the nos. 5 two paintings entitled Black White, 1967 and 1968 (cat.

which, Red Blue Green

(cat.

I

1

large, rectangle; and m the other, a placed above a long white rectangle, forming a form ., square. In 1966 Kell, also black mangle and a white triangle abut to exh.b.ted late that White Angle (cat. no. 47,, which was sculptures including the painted aluminum r' Blue Red (cat. no 46), a Tdne, lams', as Jell „s the two-panel canvas red panel s„s below ,. on th floor. adoining while the which the blue panel rests against the wall using wha, sniL at the H6tel des Artistes, Kelly made paintings

black rectangle

is

™«?™«f™«^

m«f»

£

I

,n hi

regular format,

1965

Phil

(cat

^

a series of

panels

monochrome

in a

row on

a

arrangements no 41)-and experimented with new

and mystical

ot color, as „i Blu, Red.

and u also ;

latio,

ru

fe<™"£

solutions that he discovere

while

primary-color intensity of the

colo, con, ams

panels-red, ye»cn

(ovc, K,/

U

,,

/

/

his

I

f;^::I-: 5K3 £ S~

^h1^^^

successful

^^

most he established the development of scale, and the nlane the enlargement

Scan,

features of his

,^

S^^T-iSSSS Ellsworth Kelt) Diane Waldman:

h

:,d,

firs,

,

,

- 0«

|lustr

m

oth

s

,

painting, the equal

^ ^^^ ^.^ —- -

tela,

Hr pamtmg] .,.

,

challenge the

mJ

,

he „

and

hips are the most

^

gram,

*e pan

^ •

second

examp le, .

,

,

(

^J,,,, -lor

,

|n [|u c

^

^^^iS^S 2

them the mangle other shapes, among r ned to t;

[he

,

,

for

hv , green paneli and in the

--

i

m

*" '

ft

,

P

r .

,

K

,, ( ,

wlu r , ^

"

the

a

,

u

e

^JJ^Sj^iS J^J^£

wor ng

b primary colors are baking second painting, the k Jors other h balance the cc Kelly uses green to pr ,marv colors. In

^ JOP-P

<'™

d. tha

'•

d

blue panel, each one green panel abuts a Blue withB/«, „( leen Red Yellou,

J3

"-"g^jj"

Ween Red

as

frfi^f^JZSZi^to *J^*SZtt^£ - d »

phic

the planar surface o would'not shift optically within balance Ins cote » Another device that Kelly uses to h.n s the second into the fa» panel and the color from

his

wa 1-such

[anis

*-

rectangle]

all ol

hi

b. rented for

,,,„ ,

KLellj

gured vcar

.

nmer


meWtol

,;

(cat.

no. Si),

which

rectangle to the shortest s,de of joins a long side of a small

an

configurations. Ufa hs ent, e with other shapes to form new but he subverts it by combining it with the ace drawing Sneaker is fundamentally a tnangfc of forms derived from nature, the (cat no. .4,. â&#x20AC;&#x17E; divided in triangular painting V<//â&#x20AC;&#x17E;,c Bfccft, 1968 c form nto two parts. The separate but interest in breaking down form into way, an indication of Kelly's ongoing ,s the dialectical triangle the of use Perhaps the most striking feature of his

1

Sulary

dS

e^tnesame

nred pendent component

?on

e

t

units.

establishes between

"at

its

shape and

its

sola, color mass.

With

this

new emphasis, form assumes

colors anchors the painting direction, while the balance of tional role of creating a sense of a return to . physical appearance to .natter. Th,s marks static, frontal function of giving nu without a loss of canvases that featured interior curved forms ter.snc of the earlier monolithic follow a converging perspective, which forces the eye to ,n,t,al emphasis on a linear

1d

h

m

L

,

h

;"~,slcv. The

41. Spectrum

IV,

I

panels, Oil <>n canvas; thirteen joined

[17x117 <

inches

297.2

x

,, ||ec nor oi Irving Blum,

297.2cm]

New

overall.

York.

Z

exterior shape nto evenly weighted colors, which force the lis u timatclv countermanded by the rhomboid asymmetrical two no. 52), Kelly has joined prommence. However, in Red Green, .968 (cat. perspective. receding of lusion wh.ch illusion plays a new role, creating an

d

I

create a

work

in

color relationships of the puttflgrof nondirectional application of paint, and the or modest angles of these forms, flatness of the image. The nonspecific hi period serve to reinforce the canvases, opposition to the specific reality of the separate which avoid forty-five and ninety degrees, in these canvases an even greater complexity.

Tlu

ven

light, the

give

Kelly

moved

theater that

upon

to Spencertown,

had been used

New

in the

York,

in

March 1970.

production of stage

the opportunity that a large space

sets.

In the

nearby town of Chatham he rented a

There he began, for the

would afford him. Unlike

his studio at

first

time, to se.ze

the Hotel des Artistes,

id

work on

the Chatham space gave him the chance to which he occasionally made large-scale paintings, paintings such as Green Red Yellow Blue Multiple-panel horizontally. a large scale both vertically and studio of the larger-scale paintings that he made in his and Blue Green Yellow Orange Red are examples

that the studio was previously used for theater Hotel des Artistes. In the Chatham studio, the fact reference space, and to create paintings that bear some backdrops encouraged him to take advantage of the earlier, noted as theater; t.me that Kelly had been interested in to stage backdrops. This was not the first professionally both 1949 was of great importance to h.m his meeting with Cage and Cunningham in June saw the Renaud-Barrault troupe perform Hamlet at the Kelly 1949, and personally. Also, that same year, curtains. by Masson's sets, which consisted of black and gray at the

Marigny theater

in Paris,

and was fascinated

Inspired by the space between the curtains, he 42. Antoni Gaudi,

Barcclon

tile

made

until Blue a sketch that he used as the basis tor Relief

choreographer Paul Tayloi s had an opportunity to design costumes and a curtain for Italy. Spoleto, Worlds in dance Tablet in 1960, performed at the Festival of Two of L-shaped paintings based on ideas that he series a create to began Kelly studio, In his Chatham paintings after the town. In Chatham IX: had expressed to Cage twenty years earlier, and named the in

work. Guell Park.

1950.

4S

Kelly also

panel over a green vertical no. 64), for example, he placed a horizontal black paintings such as Black with White Bar //, panel to form an inverted L-shaped configuration. While T-shaped configuration sets them apart from their 1971 (cat no 62), are related to the Chatham series, Red, 1971 (cat. no. 65), continues Kelly's fascination the inverted L-shaped panels. White Bar with Blue and and the T-shaped Black with White Bar I I, the w.th multipanel paintings in which, like the Chatham series Blue and Red recalls the panel paintings that Kelly wall becomes integral to the panels. White Bar with

Black Green, 1971

(cat.


newly completed apartment house, Unite said: "The wide slabs m primarj d'Habitation (Marseilles), 1947-52 (see p. 68). 0\ that building, Kelly was using color in a decorative way. colors on the balconies surprised me, but, thought that Le Corbusier 49 use of panel paintings, over an enure wall, but didn't want it to be decorative." Kelly's wanted to use color house, the apartment In Le Corbusier's in the 1950s and the 1970s, was never meant to be decorative. accents of color to an otherwiS( monolithic color panels were laid on top of the building's skm and .M^\

made

in

1952 shortly

after after he

went

to see Le Corbusier's

I

.

I

.

I

.

mind, facade. Kelly's color panels were conceived with the wall in

and they became

a function of the

space

of the canvas rather than a separate element.

hatham, Kelly's colors changed colors that Kelly used were often affected by location. In ( primarily 1950. In Paris, Kelly's palette consisted perceptibly, as they had when he left Pans for Sanary in light nuanced pastel tints that one associates with the of black and white, muted autumnal colors, or the Red as can be seen bright light of the south of France, of that city. In Sanary, he was inspired by the in Sanary. Althougha bought \,,\ he that fabric used Yellow Blue White. In this 1952 painting, Kelly

The

m

in Ins

he had explored ,\^\ cotton, the concept of the readymade-which decided to design a he fabric leftover some had chance collages-continued to interest him. Since he of the Museum student from his days in boston at the School dress for histtend Anne Weber, a fellow

was unusual

for

him

to use

was divided into stacked dor this sleeveless dress (fig. 43) Of Fine Arts, like the vertical painting, and white, red, black, and blue front, the order on els-black, white, red, and blue in descending pan thC

Ann, Weber wearing

43.

Sanary,

I

a dress

designed

bj

^New York, Kelly began using more highly contrasting colors together

in a singfc

such

Kelly,

ranee, 1952

-*==£. nrtSKS 2£E - the yellow-orange

band

is

White Black, 1970 :d was the first prone

active, the

(cat. no.

9),

two

equal

in size

gof

neari

square bla

and proportion, bu, he considers

- - -

tins

g

^

erases

had paintea

--

^^

«*££

coexist on the

T^^^^SSS

ruin-Is are identical. Kelly

of the

—.

two

- -«

in

^ ^ ^ '

il

sti " C

T'

nS

•',

and goes beyond

Inspired by

Kelly invented

-alls

a

,t

T

H«r»

|ust a little.

tin-

new

fanlight

on

series of

the curve ol the

It is It

the

v

44. Untitled, 1988, installed at

Bronze, 120 x 72 x k

I

ow.

exceptional pa.nt.ngs

x

2.54 cm)

15

D

i

a ne

Waldman

definitive painting

t

anding hu«ec

du

on

d

n

in a

tl

„„ rs

**<»£L ™™ ™ «*.«£

Ellsworth Kelly

at

..

,,,

lowe

^ ^

thissubiec,

,h, his

^

Spencertown house, he

its exterior shape-an wedge with :s a b.ue

B

^

(|

vcrtK ,, painting ,-

^^^^ ^.^ Mt

which iuxta,

«h«.

,

re

^ ^^

^

ts inte,

«°»«cunrel

^ pane

the

this line

"^"^^tSS', JjW^SSo-.

create a mangle * nd the rectangle to against a white shape convex curve nestled

Spcnccrtown

inches (304 B

h "

white

,

-

shaped

duimond-and elongated horizontal wedge with white a and convex curve in several

fo to

„ vl,

which

t^ti^ttiiX^I&t^*^' m

L82 9

pacing

^

a ,e

with a a red wedge subdivided h even further into more a in again, A , KdK used the red curve

o„

inJ

again n ,

lW6

,

in

Red

«

-,


"

and early 1950s, which are small and self-contained, and made of rectangular or curvilinear also unlike their larger forms, of wood, and usually painted white (see cat. nos. 7 and 9); and they are sculptures of the late counterpart, White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection, or his painted aluminum and color arc 1950s and mid-1960s, such as Pony, Gate, and White Angle, in which shape, plane, of weathering planes are flat sculptures Kelly's 1970s work. of the resolution quintessential to the successful steel or of planes of vertical or 1973 no. I, (cat. 68), Curve steel placed directly on the ground, such as much more a of them all Kelly gave wood. and polished aluminum, such as Curve IX, or works of bronze the late 1940s

however, the size, subtle shape than he had used in previous works. In sculptures from this period on, in Curve I (one inch steel, as shape, choice of material, and its thickness and patina— be it in weathering

Curve XXX/7, 1982 (one-and-one-quarter inches, cat. no. 83), or Diagonal with Curve X/V, 1982 cat. no. 87), (one-halt inch, cat. no. 81); in bronze, as in Untitled, 1986 (three-quarters of an inch,

thick).

1988 (one inch, cat. no. 88), or Untitled (Mandorla) (three-quarters of an inch); in birchwood, as polished aluminum, as in Curve IX in Curve XXI, 1978-80 (three-quarters of an inch, cat. no. 75), or in inches, cat. (one-and-one-half 1996 Untitled, as in (three-quarters of an inch); or in stainless steel, earliest Kelly's of shapes colors and the no iQ6) are as critical to the success of the works as were Gallery, Castelli the Leo at freestanding sculptures. (The aluminum sculptures were exhibited in 1975 Untitled,

,

began to show in 1973. He also joined the BlumHelman Gallery in 1975.) stem from Kellv's public and private outdoor sculpture and commissions of the last two decades insert several of his the work that he made for his own property in Spencertown. In 1973 Kelly began to from made form Curve a with beginning environment /, placid equally quiescent shapes into an Curve 1, 1973— like II, Curve house. near his ground the directly on weathering steel which he placed

where he 45. Kelly's studio

Red Panel

(left)

m

Spencertown, 1986, with

and Bhck Panel, both 1986

first

designed to augment rather than confront

its

landscape environment

—was

installed in the

garden

works for surrounding Philip Johnson's house in New form in the central like the his own lawn, including Stele 11, 1973, a gently curving vertical (somewhat waist (in that painting Kilometer Marker), and Untitled, 1988 (fig. 44), a sculpture with a pinched Canaan, Connecticut. Kelly created several other

respect similar to Kelly's first

White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection). sculpture commission

came

in

1957, for the Transportation Building, Penn Center, aluminum arranged on a grid of

Philadelphia. His sculpture there consisted of 104 panels of anodized

bars and placed against the wall of the lobby. This sculpture, undoubtedly influenced by Le Corbusier,

marks the In

first

time that Kelly used metal.

1981 Kelly created Curve XXII, thirty-six

feet tall,

which

is

installed in Lincoln Park, Illinois;

and in 1986, for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, he made Houston Triptych (fig. 46), a three-part bronze sculpture inspired by Matisse's The Backs (a series of bronzes done between 1908 and 1931, one commissioned by the city of set of which is in the museum's collection). In 1987 he was one of several artists in two of the city's newly rehabilitated plazas. Kelly first visited Barcelona 1978 and discovered Antom Gaudi's tile work (fig. 42). He was intrigued by Gaudf's fragmentation of form in his mosaic facades and believes that Gaudi was a precursor of Cubism. Kelly's contribution to the Barcelona project, a fifty-foot totem and a shorter wedge-shaped piece twenty-one feet high, in the General Moragues Plaza (fig. 47), and a second totem thirty-two feet high, in the Creueta del Coll,

Barcelona to erect sculpture

in

:

46.

Houston Triptych, l^x*. Bronze

\

122 x

visually unite the s»h

cm);

ind ..

287 cm

251.5

Wall size

1,645 9 ^m..

Museum

cm

-

(

:

honor

x

90

\

99 inches

113 inches

256.5

x

162 x 648 inches (411.5 x

The Museum

of

I

ine Arts,

Houston,

purchase with funds provided by the

Brown Foundation .md

m

101

B:

<>t

\lr

\1r

and Mrs.

jnd Mrs George

K.

M.S

Stude

Brown.

two separate

locations.

Perhaps the most moving work Kelly has done recently is Memorial, 1993 (fig. 48), commissioned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. Placed in a triangular room, the work consists of two pieces installed opposite one another. A white fan shape is placed across from a white rectangular panels. The triptych suggests a memorial to those who perished in Holocaust, while the fan shape, placed higher on the wall than the three panels, suggests transcendence. the of Kelly's use of fiberglass results in a reflective and translucent surface that replaces the material density of forms, instead incandescent These contemplation. peaceful his other work and creates a space for vertical triptych of

relating to the physicality of nature, suggest the ephemerality of

life

and the

infinite

world of the

spirit.


Spencertown, and it is in this 1979 Kelly decided to build a studio adjacent to In- house in urve VII, Dark Gray and studio that he made some of his most memorable paintings (fig. 45). Black ( and Diagonal with Curve White Panels, 1977 (cat. no. 72), Dark Gray Panel, 1977 (cat. no. 74), In

I

his paintings during the late 1978 (cat. no. 76), exemplify only a few of the ideas that he played out in bisects the is evident in the wa5 ... which he 1970s In Black Curve VII, Kelly's superb sense of measure the black of corner ol the canvas. The sweep canvas, stopping the black just short of the top right-hand otherwise be would subtle dynamic thai painting, creates arc, which bisects the lower-left corner of the create a to way in which Kelly joins two extraordinary forms left to the curve alone. The magnificent Kelly has mastered the this painting In Panels. White new shape is especially evident in Dark Gray and has been concerned since 949. balance of shape color, and space with which he panel, either in canvas, by his emphasis on the single Kelly's work from the 1980s is distinguished such as -Red in this manner earlier, m works steel, or in bronze. He had in wood, in weathering to define the monochrome a used which he in Green Angle, 1970 (cat. no, 61), a painting-cum-sculpture works such as Dark Gray Paneled large chevron. In late 1970s monochrome sh ip of the canvas, and D*r* Panel (cat^no Orange ,rks ;,,:,/:,,,.,,,; ,. Kelly set the stage for his 198 .,

1

.,

,

The Barcelona Sculpture

47.

V

Plaza, Barcelona, 1987

.11

the General

^ «• 7 " 5 ^ „d^ -'Jtt&?£^z£~s~zi "o pU End

Stainless steel, S88 «

86

°i

«

Moragues x

B: weathering 7 inches (1,493.5 x 218.4 x 17.8 cm);

Three Panels:

<

g

Green

l,

,

zll

;:;,:.<'

:;; ;n

:;:i

:.;r

.:::;;::

::,.::

Dark Cray .Green Ke

.range,

,

Red

(

steel,260

277

«

ic

7 inches (660.4

«

703.6 x 17.8cm).

Dunne

the ate 1980s

-*

panels, by

which

a large

ioined ,

and

h

homage beh

J

and tarh

is

-

anchored

by

curved blue wedge to clapped two canva to a great friend it,

giving

and

.„, effect of

a

^^^ K v |xun

;/1,

ns

*.

yellow panel

i

narrow

,6 in

are

triangle. In these

embo two

mother dimension During

4s

Manorial, ! «

four par S

i

cm)

l

)

Wood and

124

»

When U>ramson and

ssr-ats: *=

x 2 inches (275.6 x 824.2

nited States Holocaust

Museum, Washingl

ahead, transformed

fiberglass, oni ol

Memorial

D.< , Gift of

l989

.

(

,

^ida,

Ellsworth Kelly Diane Waldman:

92 ),

^

.

,„

an angle to the panel rffca

M

m

res in

earl er

--

^ ^

„,,„,

^

,

nJ „,,

lors

d his choice

adds

^^ ^

as nln large -scale sculpture, pamtings nt g ^ {

^ [W

.

(

( •

in

-»-

grr^ss-S'-p^^^M

m

j

(cat ,„,

Untitled

•"

Ruth and

Family.

|

;"',,,,, and quiescent shapes create an reces 4

^^*jE£Z£X££* ^'^ ^^ ^

paintings, Kell) reex|

to his

-

f

--;'777;;':;;:;^ Jemore

this period. Kelly

^

corner. Kelly also

|m

O^ff^^

actor. In this relief th

both Yellow Relief wtih Bte, altogether different mood, no. 97)

-p

J-

ft

.

,

1993 (cat. no. 96... but her. Relief with Black,

(c-

ng

1

Jf

purple rectangle n J

|QRR

,

j


D ossibiliries

The same

the curve.

...

nze-Tl Untied

1996

all

(cat.

^:::JL:l sl«

is

^IXrutetcdotfL, and space

imagination, and

redwood, stamless

of sculptures. ,n

is

«*>.

pan

» *- «*-

o. a

continuum

that

*

and A

began

in the earl, twentieth^century

spirit.

Notes

,,

SeeNathalieB

I.

1943-1954,"

.ogy.

r4 ,cxh

[Washington D.<

cai

>ois,

in Yve-A,

Jack

National Gallerj of Art, 1992), p.

preKn '"'"7

hl

,

! l

:!::i:;a;::::; ::r;::::;:,;:';';:::

= „,

„„

,

„„.„„

,.

,

-

M

r :;::;:;;':::::::;::::;':'::^';:;:;:::: ,.„;:„„ „

,

(

Richard \c «!1

v

I

utile

.is

£

White Wall, 1952 ,2.

„,,

H

B K ,

May

a

2,

no. is.

(cat

Stella,

I

a

in

arr,

Zox, Robe

lobn

d.

13

pp.

v

n,

Brum

..

(SaintL,

:

Saint

1

i

hronology,

p

>

'<

s

Geldzahler,

17

Ibid

is

Kelly, interview with th«

*< .»

hronology,"

.udu,

>

U.

1

Lyman K.pp,

-;:,;" « eo -

»„„.,„., 53

|,

,

,

see Peter Se.z, h

2,

"

t

al.,

New

,

,

Munich, 1984), pp 159-

Years in France,?

unpaginatcd

mthor. Hotel des Artistes,

„..,.,„,„„ ,n,Jto Beck

A

,n

-

Colette Rob, Kelly

York, circa 1969-

8

"

1996

"The Years

Prestel-Verlag

gcrman Talk B

«*

*

-——

*

York, September 6, 1996.

in

P—O

**-

M

»«

London Ma,

'

Interview with Kelly,'

16

New

Jack.

See also Brunei,

12

-

,.

••>

"si -Beckm, Ktt Museum; M

,german,in-lnt«

,ack.

**. .9,3,

|

Kelly, interview with the author,

Bashkoff,

rracej •

ca,

^ ;r

1996

e

<*

:;:;;:::„

Kelly, interview with

exh

«1

<

I

-

I

I"'"'

,

,

.965). .<•, c ited

«

"

examples.

::::::::::::

,

l

£*«*.

r;::::::^;::::;::::'::^;::::;;::

,„

."

.

I

w Interview with the author, London,

J,',,,,

,

.K,

0«ober-N

w„

Modern

1

,

his exhibition T*i

Riley— in

„..

v,..

,

W„,

V,

«

o!

.

6

Ue

j^^rr^Tuirrsis.* .«

1

;r;-;"^^^

^ Kelly:

EH.

IF

8

1

:::'::;;::;;::::;:::r:::i:::;:::;::::'::v::^. ;

,

and

steel,

which he reduces the curve to an nos. 100, 106, and 107)-in and f° rm ' shape and space remain

«*«. ->

i

new group

true for a

I

9

«-

-"J

<"

,<,„„„„,„,, spectn Ret,

.


19

Ibid

20

|eanArp,<

op

ni8 h,

I

»hil« looking

H

I«,k,

,

(New York

irp

ted in Herbert Read, The Art of Jean

*

=1

k. h.d

S ky,

Abrams, 1968). pp

..

J8.

»4,

<•»

k.ng

reaUx,

i s^r.r.miri:^^sr* ,

same night and are 23

linked.

1*1*

See William Rubin, cA., Pablo Picasso

.

-

^w York

24,

H&tel des Artistes. Kelly, interview with the author,

1>

[bid

26.

Ibid

2".

Brunet, "< hronology," p

28

Ibid

29.

Kelly, interview

Kellj i"

in.

Brunet,

1

l

"<

age, p.

M.

Kelly,

New

p

,- 4 4.

:

292

ferial

md

and

1

Co

n the

or

^

^™££ .

fh, scholarship

>02.

d

-

^

Artists

[g

,

„,, v

,,„,,

Seareh

,„

..,

_

8

'

tS^^9 "^* »*££ L-

I

-he"

, ,nd ,ean

5

Xc

s,

,,

pf0g

,

I

-"*

.,,,„.

h,

« **

thcJ

;;r:::r;:::::::::::;::

Kelly, interview

-,,

pport ,

;

r

^v

W, (New

,„,

,,

***>*T*

I

1.

1

Lme.

York, September

New

each year-t.

K Guggenheim

So.

th Kelly's

Ell

^uggenh

I"'

th the author,

e artists

i

I

York, September 5 1996

New

N

ge Braziller, 1983), pp.

<

S,

192

"At Play with

.pplk,

York

York, September

New

ch the author,

Kelly, intervie

15.

80). p.

J.

hronology,

Clare Bell,

lee

Modern Art.l

190

with the author,

Kelly, in,

12

f

York, circa 1969-

I":

p

.

Mus,

with the author,

New

York. September 5.1

6,

'"-• '' '^ works otfPaulCc thcW0rks0 when referring to the rhe term "passage."

and tegra,

.describes,

.ndP.bl.Fk,

h

,

•s

lingonecol n,

,

-7^t^~^^~

«

«

brunet,

logy." P-

!**

no

Brunei, "< hronology,"

»

w

k,

D

New York Graphic

<

ti

l956K

es Slip," in

p

Cowrie,

i

ari e

p-

-4

So.

S/,p,

exh ca,

SI.

-

s^i^r— rj^-rrct

,

4s

9

'<

:i:r,;:;,r'r :::::;

:;

J

Collages. Pr.nU (Greenwich, Ellsworth Kelly: Drawtngs,

184 Brunet, "Chronology," p.

40

4

waldman

to inothe.

ls4

,.

>...

Waldman: Ellsworth

.

km

„,„,.,

8u

NcwYot,

M

Kelly

;„

<«°

-«•«•«

"—'••"

(New York

P,

«)


Ellsworth Kelly's Multipanel Paintings

by Roberta Bernstein

"/ think that if

you can turn off

the

mmd

and

look only with the eyes, ultimately everything 1

becomes abstract." â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Ellsworth

Kelly, 1991

used as a formal or narrative dev.ee by contemporary the directions. These artists inherited an attitude toward artists working in a variety of Postmodernist forged was twentieth-century art. This attitude painting as object that has become a central feature of late American Modernism but who brought an during the 1950s and 1960s by artists with roots in European and reality. Ellsworth Kelly was one of of art relationship brand of empiricism to their rethinking of the use of joined panels allowed him to the Kelly, For of these artists to do so.

By

the

now

first

find a

the multipanel painting

and most

new way

significant

commitment shape and color from representation and established his unwavering Art, Puns Modern Museum of painting and sculpture. His 1949 painting Window,

to free

to abstraction in his (cat.

a familiar entity

is

no. 5), marks the beginning of his "not depicting so

much

as presenting a literal sense of space.

panels, one work, conceived and executed while living in Pans, Kelly used two canvas the structure of a tall vertical window that he had facing front, the other turned backward, to replicate that immediately followed [Reliej observed while visiting the museum. Kelly sees Window and the reliefs

In this generative

with Blue,

cat. no. 8,

and White

paintings that dominate his

Relief, cat. no. 9,

work

both 1950) as leading to the numerous multipanel

until he returned to the

Kelly's "panel pictures" (as he often refers to

them)

United States

in 1954.'

represent a radical

break from both Renaissance

for his panels and twentieth-century geometric abstraction. However, there are precedents work favorite a Matthias Grunewald's Isenheim Altarpiece, in medieval and Renaissance polyptychs, especially century was used in the first half of the twentieth of Kelly's since his student years/ The altarpiece format monumental triptychs, which Kelly also Beckmann's Max in culminating Expressionists, illusionist painting

1.

I

llsworth Kcllj ai

lh<

Hotel de

Bow

by the

German

few exceptions, admired/ But multiple panels were rarely used by the early Modernist abstractionists; the (collectively Color Blue and Pure Color, Yellow Pure Color, such as Aleksandr Rodchenko\ Pure Red Kelly's art behind history the understanding to relevant known as The Last Painting), 1921 (fig. 10), are

and the phenomenon of multipanel painting

in general

during the second half of the century.'


The

first

occurcm

rwenucth-centurv art extensive use of multipanel painting in

World Wat

wo k o

th

c r.ca,

i

Ik most nfluen al of

0. after from the generation that came of age in the decade ng pa, each of whom turned to multtpanel Rauschenberg, and Robert these artists are Jasper |ohns, Kelly, Mountain ( ollege in North Carokna durTn the eariyi^Os. In ,95, at Black were Mowed (sec fig three, four, and seven panels one two, series of five White Paintings, in « KeUys 1951-52. b is stnkmg how s,m> a by several multipanel Black Paintings during of modular structure and monochrome early panel paintings arc in their use k g of each other on oppos.tt «fa " independently .^. that they were arrived at completely )b I

,

artists

""^^^ 1

1

™^"*^

"tojgfil"

2.

White Painting, 1951. Robert Rauschcnberg,

Oil

on canvas; seven

panels,

72

(182 .9x45.7cm)each;72x }

20 cm)

L

x

L

8 inches

26 inches (182.9

overall. Collection of the

artist,

Ne«

x

York

iKr^^rs."^* and and from European Modernism

its

postwar man.festat.ons.

Kelly's Paris Period

u Kell ^durmgh, durine his Paris period pa.nt.ng b,v k,11v The adoption of multtpanel g cont.nuemak.ng ease pamtnfr ..„rm resolve not to Mcnow then on, pa.nt.ng ,.„.,,, Kelly has said, "From

^^

with had to do to a large extent

«IU

a

anonymous Ev

rn .

•no

was

~4••a^-

th ,

ob,ect. concept of the painting as

W.'»ta M«s«m>

'•;"

i

Uo,„/. 1950

o/

(cat.

J.

n

HD -mnn

(:

artwotk as

Pans and tlm

angtng on the

no. 7),

dead

of

something

that

,

from

9491 g

s

Nor~

ob)ects he

dqpet

tea

;

fa

sQmething

J ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^y^ ^ ^.^ (

KeU

>s

unfinished

immersion

,

|d ,

,

objects

adm.rea

u

s„

,„

p „,, t|n , ,

mi

,

,.,.,.,,

had hough, , n piece that Kelly with a sense of propornon

,

*«™«™£ » £££

that docs no,

his

U/>

^ ^ ^^ ^^ ^ ^

,

fa

-

***£* ™

*

M(

,,.,„

^

»

'

tttt*!^""^ L -

1951-52. Page 25 from Sketchbook #15,

Ink

.Ar<.

shows

r.gh

nd" eventration I-

MoJc™

,

wall to his ,950. The paddle on the example of the k.nd of in p ar is, is an

— m a.

:

I

«^»

unsigned t0 be paintings/objects, be made exact., as , had to to be made, and it A photograph compose. to no longer the need

.

-

,.

^ „,

ced

^ ^^

^^

,,,

things the world with other hl , ,

^

,

ta "

tll

,

is

,,a

'

'

on papei

aMl

s.dewa k grdlwork sacred, whether ordinary to the nonr transformed hem .nto presentation, he construction and through orld sources only huu at th ,„. rc ,|,V

te«

ource or him during r

f

41

this

formanve

stage.

M

n>

arrangements walls, such as rns on building

crucial to forms that proved

Robert, B

«»"'-"""'

me

'•"'""""

» <•

P"- tlls

.

wh.ch

p a int i„g-ob,ects,

^ ^.^ ^ ^

,„„„,,

j

,.„

,

,, insp „«| b

formed „ y 5t0 ne blocks of K derived „,„„ observations „

ys


source of which was seven windows Kelly saw on a Awnings, Avenue Matignon, L950 (cat. no. Ill), the level. Parisian hotel, each with a blue shade raised to a different from shadows cast by a handrail on the derives no. 10), The imagery in La Combe I, 1950 (cat. Villa La Combe in Meschers, France in at staving metal staircase up to the second-floor room he was changes that occurred in the patterns the shadows, recording (see cat. no. 159). Kelly did sketches of the based on the sketches. La Combe //, 1950-51 as sun's position changed, and then made paintings the

rectangular wood panels, all the same size, hinged folding screen consisting of nine narrow, rectangular stairs." As E. C. Goossen has written, the proportions of which he derived from the narrow paintings, a panel that is brought together with the "each step becomes, in the drawings and subsequent rectangle." This work was an isolated example of regular and complete others on one plane, forming a for two important developments: Kelly's stage the Kellv's use of multiple panels in 1950, but it set of paper in his collages [La Combe II rectangles process of cutting and rearranging Strips, squares, and modular elements that preceded by a collage made of nine strips of paper); and his use of repeated, (fig

4),

is

a

1

was

together comprise the whole. (

4.

La Combe

Oil

II.

1950-51.

on wood; folding screen ti

<>t

nches [99.1 \ 118.1

nine hinged panels,

cm)

overall, with

1951

ite,

(cat.

no. 12),

was

the

first

of several grid paintings that Kelly

made

1951-52,

in

all

onto a sheet of white paper, the based on collages. In the case of Cite, Kelly painted black brushstrokes students) painting stripes on a art (his grade-school children young design based on a dream he had of building wall.

1

"

rearranged then ruled the paper off into a rectangular grid of twenty squares, cut it up, " the contrasts Kelly procedure, Through this copied the design onto twenty wood panels.

He

1

variable depth. Private collection.

and

the pieces,

created by the randomly placed stripes of varj ing thickness with the strictly modular format of the grid rearrangeable but decided edges where the separate panels meet. Kelly originally intended the panels to be multipanel works. to maintain the piece in its original format, setting a precedent for his subsequent were also Three other grid paintings from the same year, Talmont, Gironde, and Meschers, (cat. no. 13), derived from collages

made from

cut-up drawings, but each was

made on

Kellv did not adopt the grid as an a priori structural design; rather

observations documented the stern of a barge

moored

1948-49 with

sketches beginning in

in

in the

Seine River.

it

a single

was

a

wood

or canvas panel

format that grew out of

a pattern of colorful tiles observed

on

2"

Cut into 49 Squares and Arranged emphasizes Kelly's use of indeterminacy as a strategy by which he might free himself from traditional approaches to invention and composition. An important through series of collages made from squares cut from colored papers also highlights the role of chance Closely related to Cite

by Chance, 195

is

the black-and-white collage Brushstrokes

(see p. 22, fig. 23).

I

The

title

Spectrum Colors Arranged According to Chance (see cat. nos. 1 16-18). In the complex arrangements of these grids of up to sixteen hundred squares, Kelly used both predetermined systems and chance procedures in deciding where to place each color. When Kelly left Pans for an eight-month

their

title:

2

'

stay in Sanary in the south of France (from the colored squares

left

November 1951

to

May

1952), he brought along a box of

over from the Spectrum collages and used them for two more collages.

One

by seven units, which served as the study for the painting Sanary, 1952. Because there were not enough colored squares left to fill in the eight-by-eight-unit grid for the second collage, Kelly left twenty-eight of the spaces blank. He then decided to make Colors for a Large Wall,

was

a rectangular grid of six

1951

(cat.

no. 16), consisting of sixty-four one-foot-square canvases, each painted in a single color or in

white, and placed according to the position of each color design of

with

its

its

in

the collage.

The

painting's structure .mc\ the

parts are conveyed by the arrangement of panels only, and, in Kelly's words, "each color ends

own

panel."

From

this point on, Kellv relies

calls "the factualiry of the joints"'

Commenting on

the elimination of it

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;what Goossen

their particular

form.

the importance of this breakthrough, Kelly said that "the 'line' or the 'drawing' leaves

the surface of the canvas and becomes the

and allowing

on the edges where panels meet

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; instead of handmade marks to give the paintings

any mark

'literal'

edge of the panels."" The

or gesture, giving the

to be experienced as

an object

in

work

the

anonymous

the world. This idea

artist's

presence

quality that Kelly

becomes

is

removed by

was seeking

central to Kelly's artistic


endeavor and leads to

a succession of multipanel

monochrome

paintings that dominate the rest of his

Paris period.

By using

the

word "wall"

in the title

of his largest and most important grid painting, Kelly affirmed

the relationship of the painting to the wall as crucial to the direction his art would take from

(As early as 1950 he had

Colors on a Wall.) The wall

titled a collage

"ground," thereby integrally linking the artwork

to

its

literal!)

becomes the

now

on.

painting's

Kell\ later described his

architectural setting.

"The canvas panels were painted solid colors with no incident, lines, marks, brushstrokes or depicted shapes; the joined panels became a form, and thereby, transferred the ground from the surface of the canvas to the wall. The result was a painting whose interest was not only in itself, but also in its intention:

relation to things outside In

:

it."

"

Red Yellow Blue White, 1952

the grid apart

(cat.

and

anchoring the painting

in

split

in five vertical

between rows. Not only does the wall serve as a ground space, but each of the four intervals form rectangular shapes the sides of which

rows with twenty-two-inch

intervals of wall space

works that immediately follow

are delineated by the vertical panels.'" In the

v

of twenty-five dyed cotton panels, Kell)

made

no. 17),

incorporated sections of the wall into the painting b\ arranging the panels

Kell) used rectangular or

eel,

of color that stand square units placed side by side, or stacked one on top of another, to present slabs and //. both 1952, white I (fig. Kite 6) out as strong shapes against the wall on which they hang. In Kite Fete a Forty, L952.

Oil

4i

"ii

canvases instead of wall space separate the color panels from each other.

canvas and wood; two joined panels, 18 inches

x

which Kelly used same-size have the word monochrome canvases joined in a row, is his only other painting from this period to using modular works of format in a group "wall" in its title. Kelly next explored variations on this primaries and black and with colors restricted to the units aligned in groups of three to seven panels, In adjusting size, proportion, and color. In white He achieved complexity and variety in thes< works example, the black panel is centered so that it Yellow Blue White and Black, 1953 (cat. no. 19), for Painting for a White Wall, 1952,

(115.6 x 96.5 cm) overall.

Private collection

(cat. no.

IS), the first of his

works

in

Red

separate side of it, while the white panels simultaneously both divides and joins the three panels to either either end close and unify the sequence. colors and pair them off. The blue panels at period is painting that Kelly developed during his Pans multipanel on Another important variation rectangle, larger ... form a of horizontal rectangular panels joined verticall)

group of works consisting

,

including hetea Torcy, L952 idea during the early

reference inherent

1950s

in this

^hu^kyNmkr

worked out this and Train Landscape, 1952-53 (cat no 21). He landscape numerous sketches and collages, several o which reveal the its double underhned these, with a rare personal aside m

(fig. 5),

in

One of spell of Parisian weather-, shows that specific (Kelly's response to a long gra, he tripartite structure and colors (fig 9) shapes to inform his choices of (see cat nos. 119.1-11 "1 me. Form and ( olor

arrangement.

Bg^Smtarf

title

I

195 andscape evolved from collages in his tench countryside seen are based on sketches of the proportions specific and colors s P ntuv. ,s trip he three to Zurich. (In one sketch from durin a trip he took from Pans I

of Train

I

I

ut 6. Kite

/.

1952

htugh 8

Oil on canvas; seven joined pan< 91

inches (99.7

s

-

^window

M

i«.i,v»«Mrrii" sect.ons are labeled ;

Is,

232.4 cm) overall

th,s tune,

-

i

J; had however, Kell,

and

'^ "'> -

"and n

"lettuce ,

js

another, "lettuce,

^„

l|u

.

^> ^t^£S£^^^^WM* pr perceptton remains cruc,a to the

Private collection.

^ i

P

43

°t'

'^^

wifh

4

.

autonomous

^

t|n||

"green,

earth.

I

is

Bj

intended „, exist as

nature. he vital* of things observed in of range wide a explored .already

,„n„n, Theerids which were so important during

Multipanel Paintings Roberta Bernstein:

and

.'painting/object." While

his

Pans period, have 77^, 1953 a

such as

.,


early panel pictures, he rejected the arrangements of color

Mondnan

was meant

color panels. The Last Painting,

marked

and form found in the Neo-Plastic grids of Piet While Rodchenko's triptych of primary

and the compositions of the Russian Constructivists.

a beginning.

It is

that Kelly could tap into

to represent the end of painting, for Kelly the multipanel idea

clear that the Paris period has served as a touchstone for a repertoire of

from

this

forms

point on.

Figure/Ground During the decade between

from Pans and

Kelly's return

a

five-month stay there

in

1965, he

made

relatively

few multipanel paintings while developing his "figure/ground" paintings. In these he concentrated on taking abstract shapes that he had discovered through observation and refining them in compositions of

two or -

W.dtterranee. [952.

three colors contrasted on a single canvas, as in

Red Blue Green, 1963

(cat. no. 42).

From time

however, Kelly returned to the multiple-panel format, sometimes using ideas worked out previously in collages that he had made in Paris. For White Plaque: Bridge and Arch Reflection, 1951-55 (car. no. 24), Kelly made two curved wood panels, which he arranged vertically with a narrow strip of wood in between, a composition based on his 1951 collage inspired by the reflection of an arch of the Pont de la Tournelle in the Seine River. (The collage was done in matte and glossy black paper to differentiate the twin shapes of the arch's shadow under the bridge and its dark reflection on the river's surface.) The four canvas panels of Gaza, 1952-56 (cat. no. 25), stacked vertically, follow his 1952 collage based on the design and colors of an enamel sign that Kelly saw at a Paris bus stop. Two Blacks, White to time during this period,

Oil

on wood; nine |omed panels. 59 >

\

K

76

-

inches

193.7 ,mi overall. Private collection.

1

1

'

and is

Blue,

1955

(cat.

no. 26),

one of

Kelly's

few narrow,

vertical

based on sketches of tugboat smokestacks observed from the

the time. 33 Painting in Three Panels, 1956,

and Painting

works, created by stacking four canvases,

New

in hire Panels,

York waterfront where he lived at 1956, arc the only examples in which

figure/ground panels of different sizes are grouped together to form a single work. since

Red

for ten years. 8.

Pages 83-S4 from Sketchbook #1". 1951-52

Pencil

3*

In a

few of

first works abandoned

are the

his figure/ground canvases, Kelly divided the surface either vertically

or horizontally

by joining two canvases. These usually involve the pairing of similar (but not identical) forms that imply, but do not actually display, bilateral symmetry, as in South Perry, 1956

and ink on paper.

They

Yellow Blue White to incorporate intervals of wall space, a device that Kelly then

(cat.

no. 27), Atlantic, 1956, and

Black and White, 1955-58.

One of his most important works from this period is Orange Red Relief, 1959 (cat. no. 37), consisting two vertical rectangles of intense, saturated color joined side by side to make a larger square, with the edges where the panels meet accentuated by having the orange panel project slightly out from the red one (the stretcher being about one inch thicker). Kelly first carried out the idea of panels in relief in his 1952 painting Mediterranee (fig. 7), using nine wood rectangles arranged in a grid, three of which project out from the surface.' In 1951-52 Kelly made numerous studies in his sketchbooks for relief paintings using two or more monochrome panels, with one jutting out in shallow relief or with a smaller panel placed on top of a larger one (see fig. 8). Soon after his arrival in New York, Kelly used the relief idea again, in Yellow Relief, 1955, a small monochrome painting of two joined canvases based on drawings done in of

France. This painting initiated the bipartite format that he used for

monochrome the 1980s,

relief,

Blue Tablet, 1962. There are relatively few

which may be accounted

sculpture during those decades.

Serial

Page

1

ir.,,,,

paper.

Sk.uhbook Ul

I

*

paintings from the 1960s through

by Kelly's greater involvement with both freestanding and

relief

Since 1990, however, he has used relief extensively in his paintings.

in

1965 Kelly broke from the figure/ground style that had characterized his paintings during making for a while, almost exclusively multipanel paintings consisting

the past decade and returned to

of two or more

monochrome

canvases.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

They

from sources taken from observation than

many

relief

for another

and Shaped Canvases

Beginning 9.

1

for

Orange Red Relief and

also

became more

his earlier

geometric and more removed work. This phase of Kelly's art draws directly upon strictly

of the ideas initiated during the early 1950s but demonstrates a

new

sense of scale and color that


10.

Alcksandr Rodchcnko. The Last Painting

(Pure

Red

Color, Pure Yellow

Pure Bluet

olor,

and

1921.

olor),

Oil cm canvas;

(

rhre<

20

inches (62.5

,\.

Rodchcnko and

x

panels, IA

n

S2.7 cm) each. V.

Stepanova Irchivc,

Moscow 11. Installation of Piet

Red Yellow Blue

12.

1965, and

Mondrian's Trafalgar Square, 1939-43,

New

Sidnc\ |anis Gallery,

Red

Acrylic

in

mii n "ii

Modernism S» Generations

the exhibition Classii it

II,

Mow

'('»<

1963.

mi canvas; three joined panels, inches (211

Fondarion Maeghr,

York, November 15-

/,

\

Si

2il

on

Paul d(

ovei

ill

Vena

I

Decemkr 1\ 1990

development later, body of work from the Pans panel paintings. Explaining this returned to making metal that and cutting forms out of he said, "It was through the making of sculpture 1 eliminated.'' jomed-'panel works on canvas, in which the ground was are Red Blue Green Yellow, 1965, and Blue Red, art Kelly's phase of this the first works of

clearly distinguishes this

I

'

Among

panels joined at a fixed angle, with one panel attached no. 46), h,s only paintings using canvas Because the floor. to it so that the color "literally spills onto to the wall and the other at right angles paintingradical most into the space of the room, they are Kelly s of the degree to which they project more suitable to sculpture, idea an was forms of bending literal that the objects. Kelly decided, however, no. aluminum pieces in the same format: « h,te Angle (cat nd he made two freestanding painted wall as the on The paintings that follow the Angle series rel, solely and Blue White Angle, both 1966. Iron, out medium tor presenting forms that literally pro.ee, ground: whereas sculpture becomes Kelly's

1966

(cat.

^EKZSC 1 m

ChC

ri arecharaca U

ti

... cot

a la large g

or square canvas panels

K

WhlC

'

':

"I

dentK.,1

M

ra

'

'

in

ze

i

V

and

1965

group

'

45,,

SS

m£ groupn gs

x Fhe o

and

of Kelly's paintings

ra

l

m,n

(cat.

s,t

to. Green

from

Yellow Orange Red, 1966

tins period, all

th|rR cn ,

llllltv

48,

ol which consist of either rectangula,

Thes£ are

^

all strictly

.^^

^

q(

^ ^ ^^ modular works

^

are reinforced by structural formats of these paintings

^

^

d

h

structural rhythm are. Kelly mvests each with a al» as these paintings tactions the .nd propot and scale ,ed then careful., deter

SSSJi Itcle'from m ^sssssSSSi£iss£:i of strong colors.

A>

(cat. no.

Multipanel Paintings Roberta Bernstein:

rp«trirted his Dalette to red,

yellow, and blue. His >


13.

RedBlut. 1968.

Oil

on canvas; two joined

panels.

\A.Blue Green

I,

v

358.1 cm) overall.

0ll

on canvas; two joined

on canvas; two

1,|

Dusseldorf.

231

i

cm)

K

231

(

ollection

I

overall.

I

inches (302.3

19 x

$69.6 cm) overall

x

The Oliver-Hoffman Galley

Famil)

joined panels,

panels. 91 x 91 inches

145

Kunsrmuseum

J.

1968 1

[228.6

Triangle, 19

lv Yellow with Red

90 x 141 inches

ol

An. Washington,

orcoran

(

Museum

D.<

,

from the Richard King purchase with aid of funds Mellon Foundation

™^

^^^^^^ "

engagement with reveals his self-conscious L of nf h.s his works It also look anonymous the .enforce abstraction colors that jed wlth Modern ist the a color scheme that by of s painting that Barnett Newman ^ and so ubiquitous in recent i

fj°£

* >*« ***

i

0/

Rei ftL,

)01 ned to form

«d

Blue,

a larger

Red Yellow Blue L effects, Kelly

Advancing and receding color

°< *

inch intervals/ 16.

Green, 196 Frank Sulla. Valparaiso Flesh and

on canvas. 77

Metallic paint i

cm]

(

x

133!

I

in

^^°-

In the next

d

two

>6

1

a

flat

surface. In

variations.

3

-vases and

">•

counteracts the

^ ^7

squares rather than as shapes on

i «*-

™ ^ W*J^J^ ^ J*

vvith a Kelly initiated this series

square,

£££»£* 1*6

Red Yellou'Bluel th

I

this

B7 Red Yellow Blue

period shares

some

^

,

^

,

adjusting

as over lapping X

,

^

dimiiuled

C .

m andd III

V IV,

^66 *>6, 1

the other."

one and joined in While Kelly's art from

^

-

of the formal devices

tl

square panels are separated sq |

an

h

monumental

scale that

inches

ollection of thi artist.

^^ssaitsasstssss;

- -


internationally

Marcia

and remains

Haifif, Inn

a

much

staple of

reductivist

and geometric abstraction,

as in the

on

this direction of

postwar abstraction has been significant

regarding modularity, anonymity, and art-as-object.

V

bile his similarities

in his

with other

artists

work and its is the w.n that Most significant his unique contribution. illuminate differences that the le adjusts shape, or gestures.* no forms color with interior and himself to using shape I

Gclatin-silvei pr"". II

x

York, 196!

work together

inches (27.9

.,

cm)

Privati

used it

is

Kell) restricts

as a unified shape.

"a kind of pictorial perfect pitch."

calls

proportion,

scale,

4

An

on predetermined no. SO). In determining the forms, Kell) did not rely than u is wide; the taller is actually square but is nearl) systems or mathematical calculations: the format AsU.osscn held. the ol quartei exactly a horizontal black panel on top takes up almost hut not ... it takes all ol the airy and spacious white explains, the black panel "lowers like a heavy dark cloud there been situation exactly with a typical tautness. lad to support it; in fact, Kelly has balanced the

\

Black over White, 1966

is ;;

who

These decisions stem and color their separateneSS and from Kellv's concern for the relationship of parts to the whole, so thai pans retain example of a painting thai tits with the reductivist mode <.l the 1960s through what Mark Rosenthal

H

innovations

historical role,

multiple panels during this period are important to understanding his

New

of

Knoebel, and Sean Scully.

Kelly's influence

r. Bam, Southampton,

works

collection

(cat.

I

would have gone slack."" proportionately more white or less black, the picture with a tew variations in the shapes ol Ins paintings. Until then, In 1968 Kelly started to explore for rectangles and squares to himself he had limited important exceptions (see cat. nos. 6, 24, and 49), these son* o used paintmgs-*nd other shapes in h,s figure/ground h,s paintings. Although he explored cat. nos. li, or relict sculptures beginnmg m 1958-5 (see freestanding for basis depicted shapes as the

39 and 43)-the shaped canvas did not dominate of

1960s. The other geometric abstractionists of the and triangles consisting oft, rhomboids, trapezoids, as geometric forms such

,

tr

'" tlH

'

made

T

a '

? n ark "k'"nk

in the scar, s

ow edh olfol

I

I

Kell, then created

mangle.

exploring the shape „, t ,, m ,arger triangles, Y .«',,, orientation of the >P ex as in shapes.

1

he simplest O

itc

B

1

size arc

wirfi

ta tQp and

Mtom

shaped

Red, 1968

collection

illusionism

«*

"

(fig.

Red

moo

anels of

Wr MGm,

and

1

T"

1

a

tc,

,

s

u

h

M

,

q|

u

'1 1,

;

r

,

.^ ^ ^ .j^. <„,,,. L963

(fig.

16).

B

^^^^O**

'

no 52) J KeTly xplo U KectSCK

t

.

.

6

SElis £-»** .

<

mQS)

;;

^1—

^

^

g

»«

ca

^^ ^ £ ^ ^^ ^ ^^^ ^ _

Blue,

The P ers pectiv and concrete shape. ioined

otn

60s

°S688

green

the proport

t0 trapezoids

^ *+*£*£

canvases of the ear

19),

I

mind

fix in his

he

„u,

dyn

U kjh U

tili-useo^^nochroJwithn, m, theM '» *°™ '"

inches (35.6 « 27.9 cm).

I'm

these

oined to torm a square In

same

,o Stella's

II

wok motj

did the

for

'"

St

and white

\

it

1968 were

wa, the larger shape as well as the variations m stmg colors. The different color combinations, and abstract geometric » of ,i stretched the p an array of unique designs that

r while walking in Central

Gelatin-silvci print. 14

in

the

°3

Ghent, N.'ie York, 1972.

formats Kell, began using

many

lie

18. Roof.

as Kelly's painting until the late 1960s,

,

between

spatial

^ ^^^^ ^ ^

isual tension

«*- «- *• ™r

tw^^vi^assasK ^£^*^^ <*

: ;;

ssss

£-

47

M./*.*-"/ Roberta Bernstein:

IW**'

d<

lthisdirec '


^ ESS^S b-k

from the

of Curves on

and -

,

holistic

single,

-somewhat

r

^c£

;£^££»£

ra

es

^ J^ = SS^SKSJSTbKio.

W« - -

continue shaped panel that he

"""

pa i n tings and

Anodw cnang the ad)acent wall. actively incorporating source g vananon of nature a imo ., hc cnJ1 ,, s amount of setot tl . g landscape bating detaik images in architecture and nn t, obs h, s J, 1968 since taking been pjographs that Kelh had of quares re u I. pictonal voc nediate touchstone for his as a more I

<»n

Oil

wood;

five joined

panels

120

can be seen

*

A,«rc-,-/,r;. 271 inches (304.8

*

*sx

Jem

in

1968 Bam, Southampton, New York,

to

York, 1970

(cat.

(Fig.

1

),

Boatmen's Bank, Saini Louis

the bottom ,o.ned to , format: a vertical rectangle on paintings t at ke These grew out of the recent Bar

arch, ectu,

h,

g

nc^

..

>

ad

recall formats that, like the CfcatW, (cat. no. 65) both Red and White Bar with Blue and panels so that some are s,ze and shape of the proportions affect the sense of

tad I

is

that Kell, tapped back

n hndmg

rf

^

in

upstate

New

^

.

t

^

, P^

.

I.

agajn

^

Spencertown bp

.

surroundings by

their

g

and

J oneabo wa wo k.ng on ,

.^

shadow

no. 162).

Chatham series afte the town nea Kelly named his 1971 The fourteen pamtings ,n th, he had moved the year before. al

overall

nos ,6

^ ^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^ ^^

work

-

Green Yellow Orange Red. 1968

t

,s

Ma

19. Blue

„70s

early

multipanel paintings from this phase

; of rectilinear can eccentric arrangements

« - '-'

as frag

P^n^t wo

«j«d *££££* ^^rin ?fe

mack Sauare with

,

Itipanel

only one

York, where

.^^

..,

^^

.^ ^^^ fj

e

^^ ^

Q)

re lationships

^^f^^J^clathan,

II:

Blue Red

^J^°[^ M £*. ^vto^^^^fc ^

inches and the blue Itv-.hrcc in y panel measures sixty weeny vertical red the example, (fig, 22), for » /X. « » (c eighty-seven tnche, Lrizontti panel, thirty-three by ^ ort, nch element sixty-nine b when an J wider, with its green vertical the hunts ,,_. relati(inships nmetv six ,n some. Kelly stretches

as well as

.

20. Study for

Rectangle (

1

I."

-Dark Gray and White I

4

1

x

-

-si ^^^^^

""

ollage on postcard, 4

10.2 \

.

6 inches

5.2 cm). Private collection.

ssssi; sp^p^m^;:;:!. c:^;; £ * l

21.

-*

Opening York,

to a Cellar.

Hudson,

1977

in silver print,

II

x 14 inches (27.9

x

*£*££

,n the and shadow and of mass and space, as Bart*, 1977 1977 (fig. 21), and Hawgar Doorway, Saint

llg ht

(cat.

'

no. ioij.

uimk,

- * -*-

1

^ \>

&

has asserted that

i,


trr^

I

=

based on

I

m

s

of scale for to a monumental sense ate l9S0s t„ project ° a hl afong a dtagona the wa , it is joined i

^

and

black shape ol the cellar door to the the trom this period imply

through

>, details of

ref

,978

that the,

22.

Chatham

tt:

Oil on canvas;,

(243.8x222 and

J

Blue Red. 19

I

,ed panels,

96 x 87

inches

of Robert cm) overall Collection

no. 72), Kelly

^

^^^^Zf^yl^bk propomo ^.Kelly-

msm. In «*«!<g egtd^anels to ha Hkew.se used trr dh

out innate des.re for

undermine

££

sm=kK

I

a anc

srj2*4~ —

d Saint Bart's hangar Kelly took of the

*

s ,,

d slnce the

„, s

„,„

m Ma

^

mage y

shape and

effect of contradicts this slight (cat.

"

open doorway

^^ ^^^^^ ^ ,

j

p

fe

<

£c

jo

agams rock '. c seas.,,- of sur( crashmg ana tn oss ac fee. , ore than ten-and-one-half (it

^

,

>74 (cat. no 1 .1 Pfc.Jtfsb.tfg Postcard collages, such as nfonnhaar that detads visual kinds of provide clues abou, the kand shapj, sh a postcard collage

£ ^.^

photograph. P

rf

Fhis painting

^ wo

KapeK)ld

^ and others

h , s „„„..

^^^

to create a

^.^

^

», rU '»

.„„,,

^

,„„|k u1k, vertica) .

.

tha, unified, planar surface

horizontal edges, so

m> sld reads as form th e larger "" h e r * "

"

F.

sees

\nn.. Marie Shapiro

icssassKsW*??

that are direct Kelh did two ttiptychs

*

u^ done between

1

J

»ss and md 1990.

fa.

be shghtl shapes turn out to senes der.ve the. e< J(ll ,

all

of these

"I

R

n0 .86),and

unexpected caused b) the ol form> -" " thC ,

*£? Im Bto* ttfow 7,:

differently. In

midway along

the

a. firs,

.

.,,

"WfW^S

'

.

no

fixed

A

placed 91), Kell, hamond yeu , in

pb*

and dipping out

^

49

by

its

an in effectiveness as

Roberta Bernstein:

lultipanel Paintings

1

g^

*££*„cre^g* p

te^^^stesttssss intuitively

D/»^ .^.^

m

^

ca't

look

.

.

•<

.

'

r*

'

k '*" a v i 988 Ik pamt g ,„ K , lh u r uI „ forms d Rober , Storr descnb found irregulant.es tries and areall algne and thers frQm the

what q)

r*w Giay ?««*,

^^^ „,

that

,

-


.

two CUrVd P more dynamic,

Kelly's next

h *

hich

k

combining

i°ined

'

a

Jlut

is

nbinatmns, sue

m

-

™ -W

,

|

n

...1

ll......n,..-«

oi

Gran

Gov*

-

in

both

York,

at

BhimHelman

November 7-December

,n

earlier in

„.,„,, „

s

«b ,„

(

d

^

<-

rectangulat bar

Qm

.

.

is

wW as of

wedge

series, a large fanlike

with Panels

.

paintings; a t0 Kelly's panel 23) Each (fig , ( „

^

;

m

DA

the

a , ong m£ edges

,

(

attache,!.

series.

^ ^^^

ing shape and color

|n

K

of

wedges, and arcs of rectangles, triangles,

Galleiy,

new

J

.

the "ground as "figure" against

Ke//) the exhibition Ellsworth

CmvetlKectangles

Nov

I.

J

.

sh

,

in

first

|dea of

^^ m ^ ^ ^^

p^

>

-

White Curve Cun-e and Black Panel with

extremely than

wit* « «*« p;'"< '• „.„/, , in the Pi „,,,, along he wocd, than rather series, and Rectangles n of elly o, contmu g^ These diptychs represent a start the wall. In 1990 Kelly as in B/»e

;-,

,

^m^C> _

the eccentric enabling Kell, to explore two-color variations of the 198* color." In the tour

Panel with Orange

;

and one curved^edg as . ,,, ma de of one straight s, group comes in t wo vers, on four variations in this

of the

nl „ ,

«' '\ B/ ' S le

^

^

Japed

.

1989-90, are the

inf/j Pane/s,

o" sided one tha, appeared

orestam 'si no

wl J the^ of four configurations va .» the paintings. In three of

in P**fe P««. squares or rectangles, as '„„,, (fig. ,„, 23). In the fourth a

solid

.

£ -'',,,',;' « w^

S

made up

\ ectanglei

I

with a T' "J ffoTm form wth three-s.ded

Kelly's triangle/rectangle

group

,

-

1989 and Cnwes 8

r Panels with Curves ,

series,

combinatlons

^ ~™^° ^

whl

depth of the

e

relief

is

more

always

9,

^.M™ ^f

to "pull of visual gravity"" u. the e reliefs utilize the p preceding fthem rt,eee immediately Relief Red diptychs Like the se canvas of shape and color and )M „,, R ed des create dynamic interactions

from the wall."

m

.

™°

™^^^£UgL

1990 (cat. no. (f or Delphine Seyrig) color scheme. The dynam. Re l ief, 1959. using the same h eearhe earher and later rebels ev,dent Comparing the smble se , other, has a morec ass u in front of the

m

y

^

rronSi-ria is

viewed'from the

S

on top of ano he

-

142inches

private colleelion

-

the

appear to press the forms in Kelly's reliefs

,

^^.f^^™^

U. Blue Curve with mile Panel

trail

and as

one panel As a result of the layering of his (In another. or penetrate one

^

edge$

96)-

^^^ ^ ^^

Jith Black ,1993 (cat. no. K of B / locking of shapes.) The ^ adjoin puzzlelike a avoid to I be reac as t a black rectangle-can on superimposed wedge a blue effect of curved edges, creating an „aigh, sides under the white panel the g «. P*ne achieved by hading one . 1 been has effect this ^ (fig. 25), b seen a wedge and arc shape ca^ h |n positioned on top of it. The bo sh sugg sts that smvu ane form a side reverse ^ white exposing us 1 mc hidingfellow Rehef w, th reading; , naany of these recent reliefs, Tl nted^out, has po Bo.s ^ Yve-Alam As d fules of deslgn e than the one above it. n ;

into

panels, 91 Oil on canvas; wo joined

side)

^^

is

Qne

—- ^^

r^io^^^ "a*^*™* °^^^^SlleS nv^emem

,

that character izes Kelly's

Qf form

>

Q

his pane, pictures

.rough, to

raised slightly

-

^

J

^ ^ ^^ ^ ^^^ ^^ ^^.^^

^

>

^ ^"

,

^

,

^^t=!^^ttSSS S3L-J M« SSSSSffl

vocabulary offo

ctiTKeUy's

fust pane, painting,

M«s,

/

Mc—

-

Art,


P.,,,,

we

see that he has not

^ '^ ^ -^lE-S^K -* m

wavered fro, cer

^

work. From the begmn tremendously diverse body of paintings a concrete sense foremost a way to give his

mg o m«w

own space and always demands re which "the shape finds its range of experiences, are inspired by a broad his dehgh it demonstrates Although vision. ragments

of

f

J

collects,

For Kelly,

" and dynam.c engager, king move we "As experience.

results tro.n an intense

transformative

dom

*

>o

objects in rks

.„-,

g

"

(

form's se

jml

foi

ddle „ w ,, ml , „ K „, n pa „. chinese ade ,, u ,al and spiritual power. j

,

m m n ,|„,"

^

P

^n

.

'

<

.

„.m)U

KeUy ,

f^J^^JgZSR

other objects he »ns formahs ; instead. ob,ects (fig. 26), is not struggle* f ee abstraction involves "the

P

P

«

turert

MU

^

c:s=£3=-=£K

[,s

art

enUghtening and

,

^_

--

.*.

,

.

.

has expla med, se£ ,

••

with Green, 1994. 25. White Relief Oil

on canvas; two joined

l20x 60 inches (304.8. Collection of

Mimi and

panels,

1

52 4 cm) overall.

Peter Haas.

*«' E

«

KK.

Paol Taylor, "Ell

I

I^^SE^--^ 4

Kdlyl «rl

'"

M

'

'""7'

'

;v

m medi»r«l

i

»»*

:

„.„

,

in

k

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°

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,

,,,

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»*>'<""• ("" nt ",(

-

k

-

P<

E

«

,, on pp

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;

''-'

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- -'"'

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fand

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;,:r;;

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-

';:;:r::;t:J:;;::::^ r: :; : ;; ::::::;:::::;:::

26. Objects in Ell

collect rth Kelly's

Clark County, Saddle-back bannerstonc, Illinois, ca

fa;,

2000-3000

Uangzhu

b.<

Culture, ca.

.granite;

3000

B.C., jad<

»„,,

i.

-A**—

Ml*. ab«n

Hk.

'"

-

•'

j^V

*" ,„,„«<..

,'.,;,",::,..;.

i i

'

i«<

hKel11 0wen DroUt.in"E«s»o»

abstract

-

=;:rr=»i =r;=-xrr-:cr: ,

artists to th<

|ohns Kelly,

:henbcrg and Rausch

turo]

\mong

,

51

Paintings n- Multipanel m«»'I Robe ,,., Bernstein

$ oph«c

cxt ensiv.

multipanel paintm

>

use-


work

the

Iik.

Bacon made

German

ol the

Kpressionists, w

I

panels

some

in

[0.

Kelly,

"Notes," p

11.

Kelly,

quoted

12.

[n

which

title

s.od

it

pu tn res

cxh

<>t

Man

..h.nm

»

B

Bois,

[9

.id

made

ite

l

01,1

in

the end ol mi

.

189, tor

p

2

the ease

Muni

1

a

Kelly, p

barge,

Kr//i

Spa trum 22

Kelly,

24.

Kelly,

n,

1

md

Years in

From -

New

was

>'(

ir

.>t

s

<

in

Adams (New

[anel W,

b)

tven,

II

onn

(

entui

I

\

lie

nivi

I

know

these

1

should

arlier screens, the)

he

I

comi

title

s

from is

name

the ,1

grid,

.1

was staying

place where he

of the

square of tour b) tour units

For

1

..pi. 01s.

Kelly,

16

pp

and

recounting of the dream, and

18, tor Kelly's

/'.•

'

mentioned

from

<r.

(

e,

t..

ol the practical

sum

abandon

t"

led Kell)

considerations

of

polyptych

him

in

Bois

in

down owart,

(

al

ei

concerns regarding shipping the eight-by-eight-fooi painting

ncxi

in tin

Ink

box)

.1

1948-1951,"

olor Panel Paintings,

(

tin-

painting being broken

ol the

Paris (he carried the panels back with

Development

lis

I

suggested the

ll\

sjurs

\l<

Grids and

nance

permutation idea that

tin-

>>t

importance

the

olors

'

in

Kelly:

,

\<>r

,1

Sanar)

m

1949, Batl

Tiles,

I

bam

.

,

grids and

timi

1949 based on

I

product d sketch*

ines

from

Ann

Bois,

see

.

r<

thorough discussion of

and shadow reflected on the surface \ccording to

's

in

the

of the Seine River (see

(numbet

onl) one

.1

checkerboard design that he had observed on

he could noi yel accept complete abstraction. Both Bois and

1951, and Grid

at tins .1

madi

thai Kell)

discussi d sources foi Kell)

no

V, cat

(

s

Form and

"I ine,

olor,

(

omposition," pp.

2

Study foi "Seine,

"

a

in their

Tiles,

>/,/

'

119.1

19 40]

1

Sec Goossen, Kelly, pp

observations

their origins in Kelly's

1951,

was made into

1951 (cat. nos

'

16

5

Spectrum collages and

117)

owart,

<

and collages, including Sketi h from

c it

no

115

painting, later

I.

01 195

in

the seven titled I

Interview," p. 155

Since tins time, Kell) has used neithei hand-painted nor

8.

pi. in ts

and

figures. In single-panel paintings with

Wall

two

more

01

hand-drawn

lines or

colors, lines are

studies ol .irihitntur.il walls arc crucial to Ins conception of panel paintings

drawing

Wall with Pipes, 1950;

titled

md

ilu

other, like the medieval

17

sci

and

18

Diane

\\

.Id

mason who

I

llsworth Kell)

llsworth kill\

t

hi

marks

Paris Paintings and the

<

ollages, Prints

(<

radium,

ol

ol

in

"

I

In-

Mural

I

artist puts

much

(

ai the

timi

oni "

is

based

onn

the structun

down

lecoration,"

drawings

shapes meel

Ireenwich,

made an analog) between

thai fascinated Kell) so I

works, othci than

1950 collagi Colors on a Wall

I"he

Drawings, 2".

in Ins

formed where the edges

wroti of Kelly's panel paintings,

Romanesque churches

built the walls ol the I

man

Bois, in "Anti-< omposition," p

actual construction of building walls,

Michael Pantc, "'Things to Cover Walls

ol

sroni

New York Leo

Aluminum Wall

Sculpture

Castelli Gallery, 1984), unpaginatcd

Weatht ring

Stei

I

Wall Sculpture, exh.

cai

(Los

Angeles:

Margo

'

olors

alter

See also

\meru an

\rl 9, no.

5 i

Kelly, in Ellsworth Kelly: Painti d

Gallerj

14, Bois

noi wanting to reveal the sources ol Ins

tor

however, the design

original sketch for

tin

pointlessness

the

transporting

KJU

York Graphic Society, 1971), plates ,

thi

1950s; on p

the

in

in

had

still

Kelly, p

numerous

1

26

the painting. See

in

reproduction

Motif," pp. 42-43, fot

in Taylor, "Kell)

"Notes," p

pencil

.1

New ^nrk

\rl in

reasons

s

and

Relief

format

In Ins initial sketch,

mentioned an abstract painting

19,

olors \rrang\ d

prints of

Kell)

on

<

quoted

and White

by Western Artists of the Nineteenth and Twentieth

painting that be then destroyed becausi

.1

of patterns of light

25.

.1

44. mentioned that ki

p.

owan "Method and

I

Modern

"t

speculated on kilU

stage framed In parted curtains. Hois,

tin

original!) titled Bla< k

\n. 1984). Screens b) well-known earl) Modernists such as Vanessa Bell, rhomas Hart

of

Fot an extensive discussion oi Kelly's use of chance

and

Museum

n the

|r

was

Paris

5

Mlsvs.irth

1949, Sidewalk Crille/Studii 2

\>t.

rectangle of tour In five units and changed the orientation of the stripes thai were tilted ai various angles in the

.1

Wall, painted later thai ycai

Goossen,

olumbia,

(

18

sin.illir units foi

Years in France,

2d

B.irr.

gris el noir; Bois

.

Universitaire

receni convi rsation, Kell)

.1

harlottc Islands, British

(

Vnti-Composition," pp. 21-22

three .ends 1

II.

Modern

of

of this structural

us.,

25, speculated that

In

Queen

[apanese stencil, and Relief with Blue, 1950, based on

a

painted sk\ backdrop and

a

small sketch of the image from Ins dream.

.1

thi

omposition," p

\uii-t

Method

elements taken rn>m

relief

The Folding Imc

more uniforml) horizontal

.is

Kelly, p

11.

own

his

t..r

Bois, in ibid., p

int.

Initcd

l

28

1971), p

Ray, Frana Marc, and Yves langu) were also included. While Kell) did not

dream,

ironology, 7

blam

National Gallcr)

35; see also Bois

h.id the

n

t.i

N Abrams,

Harr)

production with

H indow, Museum

the exhibition

in

precedents

.is

the painting, Kelly used

1

idea

1960s

later in the

he next morning, Kell)

sketch

hexagonal

its

a theatrical

Relief en

Washington, D.<

tin night In

l

to the altarpieci

part influenced Kelly's decision to return to thi

in

Michael Komaneck) and Virginia Fabbri Butera with an Introduction

cat. b)

Goossen, Kelly, p I

1952 he used modular

is

Paris.

the painting to Mfred

showed

much

Benton, Paul Klee,

s

t<>r

II, stated thai

onstruction

<

until

be considered

lh

stage set

1

was included

II

^rt Gallery;

I

American Vbstraci

the

Vs earl)

an article about Reinhardt's 1953 exhibition

see

-nineteenth centurj Haida Indian copper plaque from the

lati

.1

Relief, with

Whiti

Kell)

titled

after

Musee dc I'Homme,

the

arc

when

was

ombe

(

drawing

a

omposition," p

1

that

,;

[RTnews, which

issue "f

1950s

work Black Triptych, alluding

.1

multipanel paintings; bul he did

Ins first

December 1953

in thi

titled

ot

rucifixion

<

in the

>

2

perceptions

s

Paris

madi

hi

John Coplans, Ellsworth Kelly (New York

in

ivnnpliv

["wo

/

saw

he

1

14

in

1949, Kell) made

Kell)

when

1955 he

in

foi a

multiph panels

of

195

In

Eadweard Muybridgc.

Sec Brunet, "< hronology," p. 194,

States

1

Reinhardt's work

Bern Parsons Gallery,

at the

though limited, use

significant,

monochromatic geometric abstractions, and

of his

know

Kelly did not

I

Ad Reinhardt made

xpressionists, onl)

religious associations

its

inspired b) the time lapse photograph) "I

1962 Three Studies

ol multiple panels until his

Bacon did noi resume the extensive use I

influenced In the traditional aitarpiece formal with

is

Human Head, which was

triptych, Three s/». //<-- "/ the

.1

I

eavin

I


2".

Ann

Sec Bois,

2x

work

rhis

based on

is

the righl

.11

narrow

i.t

same

["he

a

i

made

year, Kell)

pencil and collagi

Wall, 1976.

ol tht wall

.i

collage tor

["he

'

for

Painting for a White Wall

work

a

used

sizes. Kell]

tor Ins paintings

period—consists

was

these titles

in

making

In

hi did not execute, Stud)

word "wall"

thi

In

l l

a

painting, Kell) added the blue panel

thi

/'.

o/oi

i

based on the collagt Preliminary Study

word "wall"

n ground

Ins Paris

from

stud)

i

-2N.

1952 four-color collage, Study

a

large oil painting, Wall, 1958,

and the importance derived from

_

and horizontal rectangles ol varying

vertical

his Paris period

and

1_

omposition," pp

i

.>../•

fai

"Wall," 1955, and

(ot

painting

a

most panels

ol eighteen different color panels (tht

Paris period grid paintings), each forty-eight b) sixt) eight-and-onc-hall inches, placed

oloi Panels fot

I

intervals on

at

in

i

in

1

mad<

work

This paintingIns

sine

to dat.

wall eighteen feet high and

a

aftci

owei Manhattan

large Wall

single

a

thai he

small painting Wall, 1956;

i

double entendr. referring both to Wall Street

»~x Kell) titled

consisting

White Wall,

,

works

in titles of onl) a few

10 feet

I

long

hour

19. 10

Fairbrother,

|.

Kell)

in.nl,

Onl)

a

Mthough

squan

a

and was adopted I

960s)

that arc variations ol

Uget neat the end of

s

grid again after hi returned iron, France,

Kell) did not use tht

Martin

Rauh

Sec Goosscn, Kelly, p. SO, and Patterson Sims and Emil)

;i

American Art,

ol

\nn Hindry,

J2

I

smokestacks in thought th.u himself from

Goossen

»4

a recent

Ik I

llsworth Kelly," Spi cial

I

n at

,h,l

with

conversat

b)

ht

was impressed

'

works

other

tin-

,958-59

,„

f

Vfte, ,,

ubiquitous formal during

a

si>

\

pp

th.

i

irlj

I

in

Wditerranee are

Whit,

ft

'

conversation, Kell) said that -Inn Ik

in

from the surfac.

I

»n

I

pp

*mcrican tivt

pan

in

^rt,

it

was

to disast

seeing

in part inspired b)

i

at.

I

« n

m.

the

most radical entry and

i

at

multipanel pa.

er pieces ol

I

I

that

g

i

th

was

st.ll

..

at this

attached to panels

an

tndio,

1

.»»«

g

between 1958

Pulitzer, in

P-

«

se.

U

Kell,'.

P-ovioe" the

',

""

'

,„

'

H

,1.

::::::;::::,,

.nd

I

**

».. ,,

W

««d

-».

»

f

.

th

,

I

,

hi,

«*

'"'"

"'

'

>

«

><

H

>

J

>

«" ,n,

b,

p

p, ,

I

I

>

*

-.

,,

,

I

'

p.o,

I

.

,

I

'

p.

'

"""'"

h.t the width of K

Ion

*,

'

«.nr.din 8

*

*ie> ol l.r B, ,

I,

K

«

b) Kel

I

«

.d« h

K,

*fe*4

-relief

",. '

P>

'

,;

to sketches of tugboat

Blu,

to tht United States, he initiall)

1960s

in the

r.

I

I

was

on. work ,

and

ret.

figure/ground work

the

hm

rhis reinforces

vork

th:

.1

th« heh.dm.de

,23,

n

rectangles.

S

.

Mu

(New York Whitne)

)A and

\merica 1957 at the Whitnej Muse

,g

1954. he a.ed ,h. term for work

i

.

1960s

tht

1950s through

late

tht

Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture, exh. cat

rks ol different sizes looked tog. tht

Kell, .cceler.ted h

I

„ ges

us

in pi

rcctangulai panels joined togcthct

ol thre.

becamt

it

1987), unpaginatcd

Vrts,

int

I

pursued the idea furthei

>

oenties Slip during

'

canvases of different sizes together

at h

becamt more commonplace

rhethrc( projecting panels flush with

Pulitzer,

llsuiorth Kelly,

I

In that

tht autho.

e as Kelly's attempt to include mor.

point, befort tht devic.

i6

at

confirmed the connect!

Kell]

79, wrot, that Kelly's u

which

Paintingin Three Panels was exhibited in

;s

both lived

)

would errs o„ with the idea ol the multipanel pictures, but he moved into uropean geometric abstraction and us American derivatives

in Kelly, p

was seen

tht

ol

hi

J6

982), p

onversation with

"<

Fairbrother, Kelly. Seven Paintings, unpaginatcd

13

when

Jos,- friend ol Kelly's

(a

dat.

signature muni

her

.is

Vgn.

b)

Museum

(Bos

cat.

his Paris period, bt

Green Black, 1980, consisting

few paintings resemble this carliet format, including Blue

make

to

Seven Paintings (19S2-55/1987), exh.

llsworth Kelly

I

man) collages

that scalt

;::;::;;;::::

40

:i:r«=-:..

42

-.1,

s

nf ,

,

*««

,,

«

*.

::x::;:::::::::::z been temporarj installai

«

B

;';:;:::;;:;:;,;;';,:;:,

p

,.

-

,

,

«

<•

i

"

--

»

";

;::::;;::::;::;\::::::::::::,r " *" b-':-;-:;::;!;::: d..p.cel '',,.,,,, K, "•"" "":, * .-, « ;;,.:.

i;;;r:^r ;rs

,.

,;

d

Roberta Bernstein

$

.;--.

ritsr-i'K r » « I

-

«

don, for spec. f.c

.,»..

tt£ZttX.~™ inrex

+*>

Multipanel Paintings

:,«

-

-

rw„


43.

each

d!

44.

horizontal panels joined to make second series ol paintings using primary colors, each consisting of three and U are from 1966; Blue Yellow Red first used during Ins Paris period

a

rectangle, reviving another formal that he had

M

id

45.

94, foi

\

discuss,, .,1 of 'his

a

N. Abrams; Buffalo: Albright-Knox 46

When

asked

to

1954/1987,

based on one

is

..1

Ins

work

America since 1945, exh.

[bstract Painting in

Mangold works on shapes,

superficial similarities.

there ar.

depicting

still

on the ground.

line

a

48.

Goossen, Ke7/y,

44.

Ibid., p

jO

Michael Fried, "Shape

always .nd w

is

See Hindry, "< conversation with Kelly,"

p.

p.

74,

ss

Form Frank

is

Stella's

(New York Metropolitan Museum

exh.cat

New

See |ohn Elderfield," Color and Vrea:

"There

Kelly, p- M -. wrote,

perimeter foi long, because the colors

is

a

panel paintings from about 1970

tor the eye to

tendencj

and shapes themselves

batham VI (114 x 102

54

(

Rosenthal, "Kelly,

56

\\

Ink

of collage

use

quoted

in

showed me

this essay, Kellj

Sculpture,

the issues h< discussed

Vmong

"

is

ssen, in Kelly, pp.

(

I!

pp. 45-49

waj

th<

Elderfield Kellj

uses

80-88, discussed Kelly's

"kinesthetic projection, not an illusion

a

it

is

hard to hold this fictional

works he made during

in

.is

hatham

<

hue 1960s, which look more straightforwardlj

the

Green White,

I9i

XII (84 \ 76 inches]

is

the squatresi

stud.es fot his

series

90 Kellj did ink and pencil studies

Baker, Ellsworth Kell

^,^,\

for

other multipanel paintings that confirm his

triangle/rectangle panel paintings as earlj as 1970.

foi

Ellsworth Kelly's Photographs,"

and

?s

59

Elizabeth!

Diane Upright, "The Measure of Mysterj

61.

Sims and Pulitzer, Kelly: Sculpture, p 25.

62

In

ol

Vrt,

p. :

125

(fall

45

1991), p

n Paper,

in Ellsworth Kell

Works on Paper," 1987),

\perture, no.

(New York Metropolitan Museum of

Sculptures, exh. cat

Ellsworth Kelly's

Worth Museum

Fori Worth: Fori

batham

(

his paintings.

Charles Hagen, "The Shape of Seeing

N Abrams;

,

,

60

Harrj

1971

so insistentlj disci

.ire

the tallest and thinnest of the series and

and pencil drawings to plan

Pulitzer, Kelly

and

is

Mutipanclled Paintings," p

Bernstein, "Kellj See Sims

inches)

MNovembei

100

p

was researching

1

ongoing

Kelly,

'

no

make an imaginarj completion, but

geometric, several examples were directlj inspired bj observation, such

55

5,

embci

10, n

the otherwise blatant spatial illusionism

conversation with the author, Kellj said that even

In a recent

Artforum

\r\, 1970), p. 403; originally published in

\rtforum

1940-1970,

ulpture

Henrj Geldzahler, N01

in

counteract illusionism and the effect of bending, which he described as

us, ol color to in

ol

Paintings,"

Paintings b) Ellsworth Kelly,"

accommodate,

color panels "to defy, or at least

Goossen,

New

in Kelly's

thoroughlj analyzed the us, ol coloi

58.

s

Marden, he worked with Rauschenberg,

Ks fox

94,

Rosenthal, "Kelly,"

57.

Mangold

bui there

J6-37,

PP. 47.

53.

(New York Harrj

cat.

Kellj said: "In theit statements, both

Mangold and Marden,

to that ol

involvement on the surface. To me, he's concerned with painterlj surface verj connected to [aspet [ohns, His panel works were primaril)

52.

Mark

See

Paris

in

National Caller)

[Washington, D.<

cat

76

1989), p

Rothko and Newman 01 course

linear

51

made

collages chat Kellj

ol the last

945-1 995, exh

1

from 1971

111 is

si

^rt Gallery,

1992 about the relationship

in

and Marden are hers

.

Geometry Painting Selected Geometrit

Kbstraction

Michael Auping,

\

The Robert and Jane Ueyerhoff Collection

in

vertical

largei

a

I

from 1972. Blue Yellow Red

is

Rosenthal, -Ellsworth Kelly." ,,,

depending on the specifics

site.

made

Kellj

varj slightlj from one installation to another

work maj

Kelly, the size of the intervals in a given

According to

7-8

Art, 1979), pp

exh

New York

cai

iÂť

Hie postcard colla| role ol gauging a sense ol scale through postcard collages recent conversation with the author, Kellj discussed the thing existing in to the space around them, and their function .is sculptures and his paintings idea ot the relationship ol the reinforce ..

.1

sp.ue rather than as 63.

a

window through which

I4S-4", Mattison discussed Dark Gray

pp-

ni

1977 photograph Hangat Doorway, Saint Barts had

the

theyeai before White, 1988,

painting

the

in

a

photograph into flattened

Kellj said that the idea to

were originallj exhibited I

irlici

n>

pamt

Sei

exh

1982, Kellj made

68

Barbara Rose, s.u

"I

the

IK- .hen

Robert Morr. "Kellj Now."

in detail,

Hudson

Hills Press, 1995), p.

including the exact measurements ot us sides auA angles

a

si,

first

148 Sei

painted Thra

llsworth Kelly's

relief

New

is

in

works Shapes

his othei

resembling thosi

closelj

black-and-white paintings on single panels

photograph, Kellj used Hanga in

the

is

.1,.,.

he

had mad,

as the basis foi Black

process ol transforming the threc-dimens

Gray Panels

aluminum sculpture

Paintings: In

he liked the W3J the three Single coin, panels looked tOgCthei

came because

Ellsworth Kelly, exh

(New York: BlumHelman, 1989)

A somewhai more pronounced

appeared in

al

1

ot these

freestanding

in

a

used In him

panels. Hut Kell) had to alter and adjust the forms

two

in

I

thai has alreadj

hem

In a ran instance of a painting modeled aftei

seem

67.

White Panels

photographs follow imagerj

haractcristicallj to, Kelly, his

(

md

101-03.

pp

also Rosenthal. "Kelly,'

65

Meyerhoff Collection (New York

Robert Saltonstall Mattison, SAasterworks in the Robert and Jam

On -4

something

to view

cat.

lure

I

is

in three

related threi

panel

pans See sm,,

md

a

[New York: BlumHelman

rhc Search

foi

a

u

I

wall-reliel sculpture.

Pulitzer, Kc//y: Sculpture,

pp

I

when

ntitled,

the)

1986

168-69

Gallery, 1988), unpaginated.

Reasonable Order,"

in

Ellsworth Kelly:

1992 Kellj mad, a series of single shaped panels

al

<

urves/Rectangles,

ed Panels with

Cm

ot. created bj Kelly's practice of hanging his pictures so that the stretchers are raised slightlj

wall, fhconlj thicker stretchers Kellj used

were

in his earliest relief paintings,

and these were ibout two inches deep.

In

the

White ovei Blue,


[967

Jus

one of the run canvas panels projects eightee

from

in

ol the other;

I

ever, the piece itself

is

more than twent)

eight feet

long

69

Yve M.un Bois,

Hie Summons,"

'

Matthcv. Marks, 1994), p 70

Bois, in .hid.,

one

Gaul, 1993. ll

,,

ld

â&#x20AC;&#x17E;

a

full circle]

ntire relief I

precedent within Kelly's

made

[978,

Sculpture, p

47

related this folded form to Kell) \

is

of

Bois,

72

Kelly, in Ke7/)

73

Kelly,

~4

Hagen, "Shape

at

th the

form radicall) while keeping

own work

.ppearing to be folded back and ove.

smalle

inches off the wall and the

panel paintings with arcs

.or his recent

is

his

Painted

p

I

liming*. In Vfrift

sm

.He. sect

projects eight inches

off the

large, on,

See

of Seeing," p. 45,

Multipanei Robct.. Bernstein:

urves W,

S.ms and Pulitzer, Kelly:

4"

I

'

i

Kluminum, unpagin

Fragmentation and the S.ngle Form, exh

i

unfolded, the form would be

large,

th.

ection from the wall than he does in

i

ind

painted aluminum sculpture Whit,

; <^

"The Summons,"

"I

two

s

..

Pony, 19S9, freestanding sculpture using folded shapes, specificity

In his sculptures, Kety alio*

set six

Vnthonj d'Offay; New York

[London

Recent Paintings b) Ellsworth K*7/y. exh. cai

Spencertown

capacit) to alter 46, discussed the fold as denoting "both discontinuity and reflexivity-the

p,

He

wholi

ii

in

hur.

(New York

Museum

ol

Modern

lit,

19

i

ited


Ellsworth Kelly's Curves

by Carter Ratcliff

During the 1990s, Ellsworth Kelly made a series of three-sided canvases. In each of them, two straight curving edge. With sides meet to form a wide angle. Opening upward, this angle is closed by the third, them as his usual directness, Kelly calls these paintings Curves. For convenience, one could describe These fan-shaped, although their arcs are too wide and too flat to present the familiar outline of a fan. canvases have vividly idiosyncratic outlines, which, for

all

their sheer, formal interest,

must

vie tor

attention with their colors. Even Kelly's darkest blues and greens have a self-assured luminosity. and an occasional, In his earliest works, from 1949-50, whites predominate, relieved only by black

grayish blue. Then, as the 1950s began, Kelly invented a

method of

filling

gridded canvases with

random

color-patterns. Although each of these canvases contains vivid patches of red, orange, and yellow, The their impact is softened by the milder colors, plus black and white, that Kelly included in the mix. most the that even idea of randomness brought a full range of color into his art, and sometimes it seems early grids are pretexts for experiment. Thus, matters of concept and method can from the chromatic riches of a painting such as Spectrum ( olors Arranged by distract the viewer

sensuous hues

<

hance, 1951-53

I.

I

llsworth Kelly and Relief with Bin.

Paris.

(cat. no.

15).

1952-56 (cat. no. 25), which is divided into lour stacked rectangles of gradually decreasing height (going from bottom to top); the three largest are yellow, and painting with the smallest, uppermost one is red. By varying the size of the rectangles, Kelly invests the its lost in blaze <>! a solidly proportional architecture. Yet the structural subtleties of Gaza are easily top panel's m wll< Âťu ellows, for there are two different hues, one of them the result of mixing a bit of the expect. red with the yellow in the panel just below it. The warmer yellow shimmers, as one would races of the Kelly grid remain in Gaza,

I

m

in his

i

j

Surprisingly, the cooler

one

feels just as lush to the eye, as

it

spreads over the wide expanse ot the lower panel.

he warmth ol a cool yellow runs counter to expectations created by centuries ot pictorial we usuall) tradition in the West. Kelly often baffles us this way. Rather than linger over our puzzlement, I


canvases could be ca n n ( a, lucrv k 50s, Kellv's our vts.on. B, the end o to 958 (c* n immediate, unreflecrive pleasure. ,

the glow of

let

the eve

immer se

clots

his in

«,

O9

OPPO™"

taste.

1

^

and Us art addresses senstb.hty,

artist of refined taste,

and

command

his

of

upon

to

1

J^gS^tSS

in the dazzling yellow, ana there is vitality and delight shape, and color of inevitable conjunction the eye w,th grapple with issues, Kelly prov.de, of chance. Dun issue the raised had Early on, he routmel decade's preoccupations. Nonetheless, .« »

according to

relied

i

fill

I,

,1

alnu

s

other artists

liv „ riate

,^. ,„ scrLllltv one of that

^o

,

Siss^tfit^Ji^i-^

K*

nK ,J Un aen,ahh. °

« —

I

^

.

^ «»^°™

'^

«

A While

"™^ ,

rf

^

,,

tren

^

^ »n

is

n,

is

-trrs:ts iffit^KSsasSA ^^Jg^ ^ op,

the

most important of these

is

Kelly

.

-

8

oons: abstraction and figuration,

-

of h

comman c

«*»

into sharp focus » opposition that he brought later^ork- Th.s red deliberate evolution of his

an figure and ground, ca lm, , the b redefined

*'~'

^

««

— r< s 5 r eksse ssssst oncs

_

(

^

„,,„

<

,,„,

^

,

*<

-*

a

-

^

104) and

(cat. no.

Guggenheim Museum. Curves appeared eatlv

in

KclIVs

^nolandapairofc Ue, with Blue, 1950 (cat.

art.

Jj^^^ttcSl itSSS^^ "^"PS" ^ M ^ ^ ^ I. ^^ '^T^J^ ^ **•££ A wide

arc tops

oi

has explained no. 8). As Kelly

production o sketch he made at a cu ved element w« 1940s. The relief

m

originated in a

dufing th e late

open curtain. Behind

it

appear the

sculptures, His paintings and

leJlatron.

C

,

(

P

,„

ehminM eoo

From o ictured but evoked. front the of complete detachment

I'm

in

dge o

the star,. Kelly

^^^^ „

un things-shadows fragn of specific haVC the singularitj around empiricism hovers fi

'

An

air of refined

disguised as an tive arris,

narcissism.

«*

a

painting such

A

mes

ge

r

C«ri/« Carter Ratcliff:

k

t

,-,,,,-

t

uM*

k

w '

en

S

image

lhls

is

not a

,

,

K

.

saw

lnalt

„„

,

„ 0Vere

a.

proce

themselves, thing beyond

ob.ects. or large, unnameable ,„ h m as

b

C es

independence.

mid - 196 0s

wh

shape rf

,

than to the harmonies point m the realm

^ ^.^ ^

SSSfS 2. -«> *

permits ambigu

s7

^He

abstracts

^

^

/

TCSSS -

4 «-


orange oval on

arise. Are green background. At second glance, questions

a

we

to read the

orange patch

voluptuously rounded form? Flai or unrolled across the canvas, or should we see it as a green space? However we docs it hover against a flat wall of green or is it immersed in

is flat

volumetric,

these questions,

mswer

it

seems clear that orange

is

the figure

and that green

is

its

habitat. Eventually,

consciously, that occurs to the eye, subl.minally, and then to the mind, figure, sohd and itself he could canvas this of corner the quasi-triangle of green in the lower right-hand then the figures, are green regions the But if orange. discrete. So could the lame area of green above the the other and orange them of one figures, three orange is the -round. Or perhaps this is a painting with persuasive them of one not Green, two green. And then there are still other ways of reading Orange of its line and color, this canvas is .m exercise clarity the For all irrelevant. others the enough to render

though,

this certainty fades, as

it

.1

2.

Blue-Violet

(

urvt

v/. and

m

I.

Black

Redi

KdlyY Spcncertown

urvt

<

urvt

studio,

l

V,

MS -

Y ill

m

ambiguity.

1982,

Kellv

,s

considered

a quintessentiallv

American

painter.

The grand dimensions

of his canvases,

their air of confidenceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; all these traits are typical of their bright, uninflected colors and confident forms, major figure. He also counts as a Modernist, a 1960s, when Kelly emerged as

American art in the this link with the Old World is which means that he has affinities with European tradition. However, images had an American claritj ^,\ candor. Yet the) difficult to see. Even during his Paris years, Kelly's and this quality is what were never simple, never unequivocal. Kelly has always cultivated ambiguity, Modernism. establishes his connections to the upper levels of European 1912 from a painting such as Orange Green is so of still life Cubist a separating

The

stylistic gulf

vast that we' might miss their shared concern: to

remind the eye of

its

knack

for subtlety,

and thus guide

labyrinthine look makes its devotion to the experience of seeing to self-awareness. Cubism's tangled, even plain. That they can be as sometimes complexity obvious. Kelly's images are sharply defined,

an irony available only to a hard-edged style. Looking lush with interpretative possibilitv and past the simplicities of a Kelly painting, one's eyes enter a region difficult to separate from that of immersion linger there, examining the various options with a pleasure

ambiguous

in the

all.

in their

way

as a Cubist

still life is

sheer brilliance of Kelly's colors.

ambiguities, which are, after Kellv could have spent the rest of his career elaborating figure/ground ground, in paintings, and figure between relations basic to his medium. Instead, he redefined the

see the and sculptures during the first half of the 1960s. In Yellow Piece, 1966 (cat. no. 49), we could painting size, this in six feet process of redefinition brought to completion. More than six feet by The angles. right are corners be described as almost squareâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; or formerly square. Two of its opposing two corners have been smoothed away, leaving curves in their places. One can easily enough reliefs,

other

imagine the missing corners restored. In fact,

it

is

easy to suppose that, for

all

pictorial intents

and purposes, the

rectilinear corners are

a figure that almost but not quite fills up a still in place there, permitting one to read Yellow Piece as corners are implied, and thus the usual curves, see ground of the standard, rectangular kind. Where we

Yet facts defeat implications. Turning this painting into Yellow sheer figure, the curves of Yellow Piece release it from the traditional figure/ground relationship. Piece contains no ground. A figure filling the entire canvas, its ground is the wall. relationship between figure

and ground

persists.

back on himself, posing old questions in new ways. To his grounds, he continued eye, pictorial devices are inexhaustible, and so, even after releasing figures from Curves, a series of the Black launched he early 1970s, the two. In to refine the interplay between the forming a border between a edges, of the alongside one triangular canvases. In each, a curved line runs

Throughout

large area of black

his career, Kelly has circled

and two

slivers of white.

One's eyes perceive the largest form

as the figure

and the

smaller ones as fragments of ground, although, as usual, Kelly's elegance permits a smooth reversal of this reading.

draws Red Curve /V, 1973 (cat. no. 71), into an isosceles triangle lying on one zones of with an arced line connecting the two acute-angled corners and dividing the surface into

The same

side,

finesse


red and white.

When

the white portions of images such

emerged. By a new path, Kelly had arrived Piece

— the painting that In

figure,

is all

1983 Kelly published

.is

at a destination

and thus converts the wall into

statement about the need,

a

fell away, the monochrome Curves reached earlier with works such as Yellow

these

first,

its

ground. -angles, curves, edges," and

to clarify

then to adjust these linear elements to "color and tonality." With the adjustment complete, a painting displays its "freedom and separateness."' It may be that none of Kelly's works are any freer, any more fully

endowed with

"separateness," than the

with particular force.

If

However, an objection occurs. than

monochrome canvases by

and thereb) able

its

3.

Red Curved

in

Kelly's

one-color

Isn't ever)

ground? Not,

C

urves displa) these qualities

I

think,

it

cam as

a figure, separate

and

tree

a four-sided, right-

appears within

it

such as traditional enclosure that Kelly began to set aside with paintings

Plaque: Bridge Arch ami Reflection, L951-55

Panel, 1994,

the big, one color

if

other painters?

to convert the wall to

frame— the

angled

rest, yet

these canvases were arguments, independence would be their leading point. anything, makes Kelly's monochrome ( urves more independent What,

White

(cat. no. 24).

posits a space of its own. In Closed off from the space of the room, the rectangular canvas not appear- the image is, in does frame the within monochrome painting, much that we expect to see could be defined. implicit. lorizons is way, a blank— and vet the full range of pictorial possibility monochromes from the 1960s, Marden's Figures could emerge from the ground, especiall) in Brice greens and grays of dense the which seem to have absorbed anv number of forms-and colors-into

Spencertown

a

I

studio, 1994.

their surfaces.

A monochrome

For vears, Robert various kinds,

canvas

Ryman

each of them

laid

framed. laden with implications by the vers fed of being paints of white paintings with the rectangular surfaces of his

is

covered

on

in a distinctive

manner. lor every kind of paint.

Ryman

devised

a

certain anomalous areas to edge. Recently, he has permitted ,pecf,c texture, then spread it from edge to and serve to recall how relations form, figure/ground appear and to remain. These produce, in concise brushed of Ryman. white career. Yet even the most evenly adamantly he avoided them for most of his possib ihty even out the blots figure and ground. The whiteness re haunted by the memory of product o the the figure/ground relationship-the it, and this ghost of as the frame itself calls out for canvas. monochrome canvas-seems to hove, nea. ever, four-sided first mark on a blank oa between ' hc, painters maintain the familiar difference -TvTng the traditional frame, monochrome B Kelly s rectangle, usual space of the picture. Inenclosed b) the ordinary space and the imaginary

S

I

"I've had to with them. A, he says,

fight the

Minimalist label

a bit.

label, pictorial effects h that h of atmosphere

beat u ,k„ properly nmnerlv bear For Judd and others who

evocation depth, hints of perspective eed T so that art could prog «s errors to be expunged arty he In tself about declared the literal truth he put tlu .dealUnapn its proponents

were unacceptable. Suggestions ol |ts inherited from pai ntmg,

^

^

d*

Stella

was

still

among

^ "T^^ *,^ 5« » ^«

self-evidenuary ob, ,, h ,eve this state of place wher between itself and the

distance

constructed

s9

straight lines of: flat planes,

Carle. Ratcliff:

<

«r*«

-

^ ^^ ^

Minimalists, was for art

»

P

»»

^ .

$

^

^^

^

,„

another, imaginar, space,

^

„„ K

if it


s

Morns acknowledged

nroliferated "

,,

3

own

gray cubes,

flirty "pare

facts o) lorn'

particular-could be

in

966 should not focus on fault. to consider Lir dullness a the work and makes of out work takes relationsh.ps but on the way "the better new Attention he argued

fs work

,

,

that Minimalist objects-his

object

would immediately

shift

in

,

to a literalis. key. Alerted to the

our perceptio

Jâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;

no more an no would have a and environment the tacts that shape our immed.ate We would perceive the world purged art but of out surroundings.

I, material's that the object presented

and

erh,

factual,

come .live to all xperienTnot only of

then

we would ,

Mm

m.i

of the ,llu sons

Th.s was the Mmunah t that art has traditionally encouraged. s the errors and delusions, d the for he does not sha hope Kelh does no, share this h is in some ways a literalist, these m pleasure fmds other pictorial effects. He Smalls, wfsh to suppress illusions of depth and by them. astray tt< rs ind he trusts his audience not to be led Kelly was ever m.staken is difficult to see why de cades alter the Minimalists appeared, i, T the M.n.mal.st habit when they not impossible. For his canvases enter for on o them-difficult bu, ,

i

1

,

t

Sough

H

u

tor ground Ye Kehv space, to commandeer the wall of pictorial space into real .pint. LeW.ttslatt.ces, M.n.mal.s. a do not make th.s maneuver in paintings, whether Curves or Panels, that rework the premises of the architecture I,,!, "Id's and Morris's ho.es. the Int .national in abstract form, on bu.ld.ng Minmalism could he understood as a commentary, of The flat arcs of Ins larger Curves have the swee p The focus of Kelly's art is not so constricted. shaped Kell l.teral manner, the gallery in the .rankest, most or the horizon. Entering the space of un-M.n.matat thoroughly a Tins is contain. space with allusions that i, can never

-ve ouÂŤ

j^Jj^*^ m

^

SL ,

v

ses

fill

that

procedure! For all'the

with imaginary

light.

literal

canvases open onto depths immediacy of the Curves and Panels, these

Kelly the literalis.

is

also a pictorialist, a pa.nter

tr3di

ahlu"s°;m-trica., Blue Curve

lies

m command

of h.s

med.um

f.lled

i

An asymmetrical Curve could he seen as which This reading impl.es a pom. of view from

Hat against the walk

form piercing the wall's surface. vantage, this powerfully skewed .tape w wLld confront the canvas straight on. From that unattainable tour-s.ded Panels art as Blue Curve Many of the would look as calm, as securely balanced on its point, squared-away, thee look to us, they might well appear to be similarly ambiguous. As irregular as space imaginary standpoint in could see them from the right a lunge into depth, a

perfectly symmetrical,

if

we

possibility

n triplicate.

(cat. no. 86), presents this Three Panels: Orange, Dark Gray, Green, 986 complex idiosyncratic way, the work ,s ungraspably With each Panel tilted out of symmetry in its own, n .mag daw tunes o three different atmospheres, Moreover, the orange, the gray, and the green imply Kell) I anels, even when they arc tripled, as ,n Three worlds There is no end to these complexities, yet for the work of a Minimalist. forms remain crisp and clear enough to be mistaken we begin to see anonymous stretches on the symmetry implicit in Kelly's asymmetries, 1

Speculating

of nailery wall as elements of his

art.

What was

architectural

becomes

pictorial,

it

only tor a

moment.

in then -v.cn.ty. canvases g,ve an aesthetic charge to everything Like h.s sculptures, his monochrome Kelly . art pictorial. different-literalist, not Minimalist sculptures do the same, but the charge is the Insinuating each to inflect the other. mediates between the literal and the pictorial, teaching He them. erases Kelly redraws boundaries or simply complexities of abstract art into ordinary space, his shows of this redef.mt.on relief, sculpture-and the elegance

all his mediums-painting, Modernist impulses at their strongest and most subtle. Manet and others the previous century, when Edouard Kelly carries on a tradition that began ,n The painters mark s paint. ot touch every inherent in began to emphasize the doubleness, the ambiguity, that potential while itself-potentiaU) an object, To bring out an element in a picture and also a thing in to abstracts. representation from ot pictorial art, Modernist painting evolved

redefines

preserving the premises


This evolution can be described art into an account of that

Not only does he

.is

a series of progressive steps, yet

it

has never been easy to

fit

Kelly's

sort.

hack on

circle

making new abstractions by renewing the old

earlier concerns,

of he refuses to choose between abstraction and figuration. Throughout Ins career, he has made pictures b) does advance and Kell) not photographs. has collages produced plants and portraits of friends. He

discarding his past, nor has he established figurative,

mediating between

hierarchy of values. Playing the abstract off the

a strict

literal flatness

and

illusions of depth, object

and image,

real

space and

opposition— and persuades them, pictorial space, he gives equal weight to both terms of each

in his best

works, to blend.

There are no absolutes in Kelly's art, no unshakable premises, no conclusions canvases such as Blue Curve for unquestioningly, without amendment. To return to serenity

is

symmetry

no

that one a

canvas. Kelly does not posit contingent than the grand unease of an asymmetrical his art, symmetr) could be seen as a given from which unbalanced form evolves. In

less

as the

a variation like any other. as hierarchies, Kelly renders each of h,s forms

departure from asvmmetrv,

Undermining

When

every other

must accept

moment—their

an

artist attributes

metaphorically, for absolute authority

absolute value to one of his in

life—or,

if

you

independent-and

as

dependent-as

forms, that form stands

prefer, politics. Kc IK

is

not an authoritarian.

specific us to see his works as particular responses to Guided by no overarching program, inviting but ,n the lesson moral not resistance to authority. The point lies Situations he offers metaphors for .dncss. ux astonishing ideals transposed to painting with experience, the perception, of certain architectural plane becomes as wall, any wall, into a ground, thai When a shaped panel turns a

ma

there. of the forces encountered disinclined to capitulate to any

;

,„„,

K

kry;NowYork L«oC..«mG.lle„.

irgo M .Lu. ...

I

19841,

,

\

4.

*,.

;,::::::::;:::* Mass.:

61

;:::::;r::,::::::::::'-

:;::r;::

M

I

I

Press,

Cart er Ratcliff

<

1993), p

urves

15

»•"'

-

.«*.«*

»

1

,w°" se "'""°

;

'

<r

.gin...d.

<

»

>

°*


Experiencing Presence

by

Mark Rosenthal

The self-contained, abstract paintings of Ellsworth Kelly demand a rapt gaze. Approached this way, each work beyond the sum of its physical attributes exudes an ineluctable presence an aura of something palpable. A look at Kelly's history, practices, and interests suggests the artist's desire to court and

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

encourage such a response.

Pans from 1948 to 1954, Kelly formulated many of the central premises that would shape his subsequent thinking and work. Partaking of the aesthetics of early abstraction, he was deeply interested in the subject of the spiritual in art. While noting that this qualitywas present in "all the art man has made," he was especially cognizant of the often large scale and During the early phase of

anonymous authorship of

his career, in

spiritual art

made by craftsmen during

earlier periods.

1

In this regard, Kelly

windows, filled with works were Egyptian pyramids, and Sung vases. He sensed that the people who made these religious feeling, which they conveyed in virtually every detail of their craftsmanship. To emulate this

greatly

admired Cistercian, Romanesque, and

Gothic architecture, medieval stained-glass

a

:

became Kelly's ambition: to imbue art with his own expressiveness, his own spirituality, not through the depiction of a narrative but through color and form only. Because he was uninterested the specific dogmas of earlier cultures, however, Kelly needed to cultivate his "own spiritual fire" with

elusive process

1.

Vrchaic North American birdstones from the

artist's

collection

which

to sustain his art.

nature, so that

Looking

its

at

As

1

his art evolved,

phenomena

he was to find the preponderance of his inspiration

in

in

became the source of his spirituality.

immediate predecessors during

his Paris years, Kelly

spoke of the distinction between

Each possessed an equivalent degree of spirituality, he said," but as opposed to the highly personal and outwardly expressive approach of Picasso, Mondrian exemplified a restrained, "impersonal style"' that was nonetheless spiritual too. Kelly was very much attracted to what he thought of as Mondrian's anonymous style, feeling that the same approach suited his character, Pablo Picasso's and

and sought

Piet

Mondrian's

to achieve his

own

1

art.

version of

it.

He found

further support

when he

visited

Constantin


that strengthened m, intention to make .in art the form," content." Similarly, he struggled to "get that spirit just into [abstract]

Brancusi in 1950: "For me. Ins art was an affirmation: is

spiritual in

it

1

to his art.

accomplishment of which became central

began collecting anonymously Beginning about 1965, following a long-standing interest, Kelly these iconic seeming, singular wrought, stone objects from archaic cultures. Describing the appeal of concerns himself with creating an forms, he claims that they have an "aura of shape." Similarly, Kell, he ob]ect must have a undeniable presi nee abstract form that projects an intangible yet eloquent and concrete and magical all at once. bearing, a condition of being present and notable, cultural source of these see myself in,"' and it is probabl, the collect things that I

Kelly says, "I

I

and

has a strong dislike tor much thai ,S C stones with which he feels the closest affinity. le way that "communicate m a dillccu civilizations anecdotal in daily hie, instead preferring archaic again, Here practical use. that possess "s* mbolic no, One way is through the vehicle of mysterious objects stones these anonymous makers of o, religious impetus inspired the there is he suggestion that a spiritual or "spiritual fire , u« burning a Certain!, How do^s Kelly himself arrive at a similar effect? rfK works is no, enou h Ea h in the making of h,s abstrac, the application of design principles Kltional

I

.

a wildl,

or invested with

gla form hand drawn,

alluring color.

I

hrough these

an

strategies,

^rt^ssa^^^SS:

or

ir

"M-ts, unsigned, anonyn concentrated endeavor rom

*£gT^^&™

-

!ft Wto,Keg «*»

the mid-

kind of unique bod, ,he shaped canvas as a wall on which ,t reside. of the canvas to the

demands

its

a

fo

He

ed

mass

helps

r

ks--P eew

Kelly , objectlike his convey the degree to which a natural

assume

hedonism

living existenc

and

are crucial to Kell,

. art

KtlU

New

it

(

|

diose „ K perhaps

J d

,

^

ocntics Slip sludio,

York, 19S8

U

profo

.1,

moved

^

clothing.

I

ho.

^himself Modem

Art,

m

the space

formed

his into the figure in

New

M ark

Rosenthal

_

Coennes

r";;;; there

Experiencing

Fr,

is i

-'

b, the canvases,

.^

se nsuaht, .

and even „u

„,,,

.

spirit of |0„ offer , potential

)|lt|cs

enter

"don't while these concerns st0 n ,, 1K „ f haye and Manhattan, he found himself

u

,

g

dKular

to

hd- cemer of the room, beneath the rest of his the heat, he removed besides dance ited d , n uninhib

^™£2 ^ *™^T

l9 09 ,

his

feeling emerges S of

:„„:..ib

'

„,

^^

Slip

o( his

^«Jj*gi

York), Kell, reveal

*" - -p'r element-red-and ;;: formal

.

^^'Zm^

which h stepladders against noontime sun. Already

skylight, in the

63

o a

J mm h

'

^

d

*

word

this favorite

^^

withm th

red b, the brilliant

*

'

"voluptuousness";" ce tain ^volu,

«d<taJJ „« la :

a , ways

^^

-

ammg

his primar, interest. aspects of color are countermg ,,,, e „d d£ ( vte) fwther Kell, wants anymore, inn, art discussions hl s studio on at in ws9i ,

2.

h

B

'

^

<

JS5=S?3SK5 aSTSTSS =. work. w.th.n the form of each

P

'

empha sizing the relationship

<

Althoug h th

freedom and separates.

*"-*-»>

a gan

;

p— .

work through

(Museum this

a

of

anecdote:

of the sheer sensual,.,

fr

-..

^

,

,


member of contemporaries has always been difficult to assign. Although a shares very he Twombly, and Cy Robert Rauschenberg, the generation of [asper [ohns, Roy Lichtenstein, "hard-edge one the of artistically. Lawrence Alloway termed Kelly little with those individuals because of its emphasis on edge unjust, the designation rankled Kelly entirely although not painters; oversimplification of the character of his art. Sometimes rather than mass, and is, at any rate, an Greenberg, Kelly in fact possesses formalist type of thinking epitomized by Clement Kelly's Place

among

his

identified with the little

of

its

In the aspiration for the newest, purely pictorial innovation.

romantic about

his

work than Frank

Stella's

same

famous truism— "what you

see

vein, Kelly is

what you

is

far

see

more

-would

art, Kelly is often called a precursor of Minimalist permit Because of the apparent simplicity of his no way docs of alluring color and idiosyncratic form— in manifestations but—as is evident from his love own thinking at of Kelly's terms deadpan approach. In he exhibit a similar, overly geometric, pragmatic, he While did not School. Abstract Expressionists of the New York least he might best be related to the a to express shared their wish know their work to any significant extent during his years in Paris, he of abstract language seen on a large scale; moreover, the paintings

transcendent experience through an

Kelly's voluptuous and at and Mark Rothko often hint at a presence too. However, of the New Yorkers expressiveness individual degree of once .mpersonal stele is at odds with the high seen in the usually is rarely of nature qualities sensuous Also, Kelly's joie de vivre and veneration of the

Barnett

>.

Diagonal with

(

urve

III.

I"" s

Oil on canvas, 135 x 99 inches [342.9

Philadelphia rlu

Museum

Philadelphia

ol

Museum

\

Vrt, Gift ol the

oi

251.5 cm), Friends ol

Newman

Expressionists. more moodv and urban-oriented paintings of the Abstract

twentieth-century abstractionist movement, demonstrates Kelly's art, like that of other art.sts of the picture plane—an effect that might there there, that a presence can be created on a

that there can be a

work of anonymous craftsmen or in historical depictions of gaze that Kelly, what is required of the viewer is an aesthet.c a divinity. In contemplating a painting by that has observed Kelly mere description. its artwork and be moved by is, eves willing to look upon the

compete with

the spirituality inherent in the

everything has presence, that

remains for us to share

all

spatial

his vision

arrangements are pregnant with

and experience the presence

in

a

kind of

life

the objects he crafts.

substance. -'

It


Notes Kelt) in his 1951 application fot

I

Discussed in ibid.; Kelly,

2.

\i,,

M

nin.

1979), p

l

Kelly, interview

1

Ibid

5

Ibid

6

Kelly,

JO;

|ohn Simon Guggenheim Memorial

and K<

Fragmentation and the Single Form, exh

Decembei

2.9,

[bid

v.

Kelly, interview with the author, Augusi 25,

in

Ibid

i

U

Kelly,

"Notes from 1969,"

"l'.',,'L.,

14

Kelly, interview

15

Ibid

16

Kelly, interview

i».

z

oundation Fellowship,

with the

brochure

{New York

Mw

n of

Modern Vn

cai

(Amsterdam

Stedelijk

I),

I

unpaginatcd

19

M UrgoL,

ILc

author, Decembei 29

!.««,

N«w

York

...=U

I

<n.

*-

»M

I

with the author, August 25, 1995

h

<-.

-

-

«w

«7 »*

i

-

m

"•"""

K

,

'

-c

Arr

-

l

"' ,i

Kelly, interview with the

Rosenthal

'-

unpaginatcd

author,

Decembei

Exp.ri.««i.f

!•'.

1995

,

"

"

,

7:',"; ."

s^s^rr^r-^^i^:

M ark

archives

I

.Mt

...Ml,

n„ ,,„„„„-

ontemporan

artist's

and Sculptures I96J 1979, exh 1995

19,

,

(

21.

p

«;«-•

I

*

I

Painting,

interview with th< author, Di ccmbci

lly,

s

l

Ellsworth Kelly

in

with the author, Dccembci 29, 1995

Kelly, interview with the author,

65

<

"Notes from 1969,"

T';:;.

',:";'-

1

;

i"

<•

K "J

...


At Play with Vision: Ellsworth Kelly's "Line, Form and Color

by Clare

It

started with an ink dot

a single piece of paper; next

on

another page, then a horizontal row

unbroken horizontal

line

on

a

Bell

came

a series of

random

of penned dots traversing a third sheet

fourth piece of paper

(fig. 3; cat.

no.

1

(fig.

dots scattered over

1).

But

it

would be

the

19.1) that, to Ellsworth Kelly,

book project "Line, Form and Color" (cat. nos. L9.1-1 19.40). In a "1 Ralph Coburn describing the project: letter from Pans dated May 28, 1951, Kelly wrote to his friend That am planning a book, perhaps a magazine, with no writing whatsoever, just (linoleum) prints." encompassing inches, eight by seven-and-one-half each summer, Kelly created a series of forty-six works, on supports. He reserved ink on paper, collage, and single pieces of commercially colored paper mounted Later that year, he mind. had in two-and-one-half inches on the left side of each plate for the binding he York for the New submitted an application to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in be an money to publish them. On the application form, Kelly wrote, "I will create a book which shall painting, a closer alphabet of plastic pictorial elements, and which shall aim at establishing a new scale of architecture."' modern accompany to painting of spirit new wall, and a contact between the artist and the from other himself distinguish to as a conceived way The book, according to the artist, was more than much is Color" and Form "Line, applicants, most of whom sought painting grants. However,

constituted the true beginning of his

1

1

J

1.

Dots in a Run: 1951.

Ink

on paper,

"

x

8 inches (19

I

x

20.

I

cm

an ambitious proposal b\ career,

it

represented his

a

young

first

artist in serious

need of funds. Completed

at a critical

time

in kell\ S

anticipated the very shapes,

in-depth exploration of abstract idioms and more mature paintings and sculptures, and his

color relationships, and uses of line that define Kellv's

engagement with form and architecture. Moreover, the project signaled reconciling the leap into a unique new model of abstraction. It would be the artist's first attempt at for it. territories new forge would, in turn, and contradictions inherent to abstract art highly contemplative, inventive

Kelly developed "Line,

Form and Color" during

to his experiences as a student in

Boston as

it

his years in France, yet

did to his

it

owed

its

genesis as

formative Pans period. Kelly had enrolled

a

much

at the


^ ,

School of the Rights.

4

Museum

of Fine Arts in Boston on [anuary

5,

I

His decision to go to Boston was prompted by an

1946, using Kinds horn the G.I.

article

he had read

in the

Bill of

October 1944 issue

who was teaching at the the detached attitude of with school/ Zerbe's paintings combined the emotive gestures of Expressionism 1920s and 1930s. Kelly the during Sachhchkeit," two trends that defined the Genu. in avant garde

of Esquire magazine, about Karl Zerbe, a so-called "Boston Expressionist"

Neue

recalled

morning

classes with

Zerbe

the nude,

which he painted from

in

with Ture Bengtz, also from the nude.

I

le

also took .nurses in

and afternoon drawing Jasses

design and history, which he later credited

him with his painting." work from this period reveals Like most voting artists, Kcll\ experimented with many styles. lis within the Museum of inc located an eclect.c approach focused on figuration. Because his classes were ataloma Maria de Mur m from apse Santa Arts; Kelly had ample opportunity to savor the frescoes of the his impact on profound have a and other 'examples of Romanesque and Byzantine art, which would immersed in became Boston that he was in choice of motifs and deployment of scale. Moreover, it who, at for Kelly was the work of Max Beckmann,

as helping

1

I

*

German

Expressionism.

came

Zerbe's invitation,

Of

lasting significance

to visit the school in

March

student years 1948. Kelly's use of hue during his

which entomb his contorted figures, whether oi can be traced to Beckmann's weighty dark outlines, Beckmann's Self-Portrait in Tuxedo, '_ German society or of himself. Kelly particularly admired museum m the examples of modern German painting to be bought by a (fig. 2), one of the first major his bourgeoi ol flesh the functions as an emotive jolt animating Boston area.' Line in Beckmann's work inspired Kelly have could emphasis on hue for narrative purposes certainl, 1

The German

caricatures.

2

M.i\ Beckmann, Self-Portrait Selbstbildnis

m

^

Tuxedo

o explore

mi Smoking), 1927

Oil on canvas,

^"4

x

J7

inches

95.5 cm). Harvard Universit)

Busch-Reisingcr

Museum,

(I

J9.5

artists

potential as a subject in "I me.

" m-M-i its

solely

on the

The seven opening P la,es ol the book with the Lor* of hue on the space around it. Beginning 2 \\ Itfa no. (cat. similar!) drawn vertical using

Form and

effect

(

olor."

I

, another plate horizontal vector. KelK then created mute and that complexities Kelb introduced the trok

I!

x

An Museum,

>

P«^ *^ .

found

,

\ssociation Fund.

composition

**

b^

the Seme

cillate.

r

*

into

Th.s page,

.":;::;: t,.Ta' full-scale drawing (cat.

used (cat „„. 119.4), he

»/

.

n<

orizonta an

etnea

a

.

works u h mdependen ob.ee. even „,. reu

panels horizontal and vertical as an functions ulting form reS

ground. ;,„

I

ine

££S h

•":;

.1

"«P«»™

paracula,

in

segued into

m

the gr,d, wh.ch of k l,k's motifs,

would

northern France.

.

,

It

-

^

„K

P hic al

.

,

|U

,

^

^

^^

pictoria ,

Minimalism

^

,

in

l.nes conseq uential than the ind.vidual each aurcnorc ous^ub< of |||cd shape J|s the ^ ^ sectors. Fo, him, By pushing force. expressive that formed then, and ^aphysica u e t w.th 1 , sough, to d wh(j ad KelK. like Beckmann,

cultivated

I

MchK

,n

l««

Horizontal Line, 1951.

Ink

on paper,

7

k

8 inches (19.1

x

20

J

cm)

i:;::^:!':;::;::::--"---

, collection

larl

Bell

w PlflWrt

*'>'""

w

-

^.^

^^ ^

-

tent-'

^

"

,

_

heda

|

|U

,

"grids" he observed

ysgr

to create

^.^

(

^

.

b

the surface ol

,„,

-

d b

I

.

ea

.

together, crossing them 8

»~ «

« I

I

K observed

,


"

climax. These differences were exemplified by the

(founded

in

1929) and the Boston Institute of

rift

Modern

between the Art

(a

Museum

of

Modern Art

in

New

branch of the museum, established

in

York 1936).

Under the tutelage of its director, Alfred H. Ban; Jr., New York's MoMA championed the work of the French school. However, James Sachs Plaut, the Boston Institute's director, focused on figurative art, especially from northern Europe. Among the first exhibitions that Plaut initiated was one devoted to

German contemporary artists, in 1939. An exhibition devoted to French painter Georges Rouault, whose work was far more aligned with German Expressionism than with the French School, followed in 1940. At this time, Barr published a pamphlet, What Is Modern Painting?, in which he identified abstraction as the apex of twentieth-century artistic efforts. Arguing that

"how

they paint," Barr concluded that the Expressionists' "colors 4.

United Nations Building,

New

York

(

they paint can be separated from what

and shapes and

lines

have

a life of their

own

umbrage with Barr's beliefs and MoMA's embrace tendencies, Plaut began a campaign to sever the institute's Modernist other of Surrealist automatism and and archaic sensibilities that he felt bewilderment" ties with MoMA. Striving to expose the "cult of

irj

which can survive without any subject at all."" Taking

gripped the term "modern," Plaut issued a written declaration in 1948, the final year of Kelly's studies in Boston, announcing that his institution's name would be changed to the Institute of Contemporary Art.

"This apparently harmless, one-word change," writes Serge Guilbaut, "sparked, not only in Boston but whole country, a critical upheaval that would shake up the American art world for several years."

1

in the

According to the manifesto, "Modern taken for granted;

it

has had time to run

its

art failed to

course and,

speak

clearly. ...

in the pattern

of

It

all

describes a style which historic styles, has

is

become

H Ten thousand copies of the manifesto, dated February 17, 1948, were printed both dated and academic. and distributed internationally. The proclamation touched off a firestorm of criticism. For many artists,

pronouncement reeked of institutional control and, inevitably, of censorship. Given its timing, the manifesto was, in their view, reminiscent of Hitler's systematic suppression of avant-garde practices during the rise of National Socialism. David Aronson, Hyman Bloom, Jack Levine, H. W. Janson, Karl Knaths, the

Lawrence Kupferman, and Zerbe were so offended by what they

The

felt

was "the

injurious meddling of

Institute in the affairs of creative artists" that they held a meeting in Boston

call for its retraction.

While not

to

directly involved in these debates over aesthetics, Kelly certainly could not avoid the

paradox of trying to reconcile

his

immersion

of Paris artists such as Pablo Picasso art at that

on March 25, 194S

14

in

German Expressionism with

and Fernand

his proclivity

toward School

Leger. Instead, he incorporated aspects of both in his

new channel to painting by thinking beyond the traditional scope of the Herbert Read visiting the school and delivering a lecture in which he declared

time and sought a

frame. Kelly vividly recalls

was no longer a viable option: art and architecture must instead join together. Read's sermon made a lasting impact on Kelly, so much so that he echoed those very sentiments in the statement he wrote to accompany "Line, Form and Color." He claimed to seek "a closer contact between the artist Creative painting today means easel painting, 'the original oil painting,' sold through and the wall. galleries to private collectors, and to museums, to be hung on walls. This painting has no relation to the architectural wall; it is an expression of the artist's separate personality. I believe that artists should work that easel painting

5.

View

ol the half-finished

UnitÂŁ d'Habitation,

.

Marseilles, France, designed by

I

>

I

orbusii

c

.

.

directly with the architect, building as the architect builds.''

not surprising that Kelly would seize on the power of architecture to communicate his ideas. Building experienced an inevitable boom following the war. Among the most ambitious plans set into motion after 1945 was a complex of offices located on seventeen acres along New York's East River It is

Led by American architect Wallace K. Harrison, ten international architects were commissioned to study the schemes for construction and to develop them.

designed to house the newly formed United Nations

(fig. 4).

1

to do so was renowned French architect Le Corbusier Charles Edouard Jeanneret], who arrived York on January 25, 1947 to participate in the planning for the Secretariat, General Assemblies, and General Agencies buildings. Although Le Corbusier left the project before construction began due t<> the finished edifices (completed 1950-52) ended up political clashes with the international committee

The in

first

|

New

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;


r raised

The magnitude of the building project and the issues it were clearl) on about the type of artwork that could measure up to the new modern architecture to accompany painting there no is America "In Kelly's mind in 1951 when he wrote in his proposal: there, was a 'Symposium: Art Modern Museum ol York City's contemporary architecture. Recently, at New

looking very

much

like his earl)

sketches.

kind to solv< their dilemma: 'what Art with Architecture/ headed by Philip Johnson, rhej were unable of art should be used with the new United Nations building?'" taking place in the postwar climate. He Le Corbusier's ideas coincided with the rapid urbanization 1920s as a wa 5 of achieving an independent had been advocating the use of reinforced concrete since the the are independent ol one another, permitting structure-a building in which the structure and the facade concrete what he referred to as a "free plan": "Reinforced elimination of load-bearing walls in favor of rooms oi the same sue. he) plan! The floors no longer superimpose in the house brings about the free centimeter. A great financ la constructed volume, a rigorous use of each ire free. A great economy of

economy. The easy rationalism

we

e

among

windows, andconcav oofs homes and office, needed to Le Corbusier conceived lor the wave ol d'Habitation, an eighteen-stor 5 -bgh building

new plan!"" Recessed columns,

of the

the basic elements that

the burgeoning middle .lasses.

accommodate

Line,

whole. Thus,

rorm ana ^ way an architect

elements similar to the 6.

La Combe

Oil

III,

on canvas, 63

(161.3 x 113 cm)

I

[is

strip

Unite

and conceived his columns, windows, such as Le mrhusier ( concrete frame. To this

»^™~^I

1951 n

M

i^ss«^ ^-^SSSS

inches

Private collection

shape's

Kelly's schooling

in

about

k

Id

easel bu,

from the

Boston was

<£Z£££fi£i l« durmgn

,

his attraction to

Boston also reaffirmed

in

European

JT^JKS

art. But,

Pans, « hid.

relocate to Boston, Kell, decided to

»-—

Jl

hvSal

(

,m

the 1950s,

a social

Baldwin seized on at best.

vag ue .

jording

t0 Baldwin.

.

.

As

a

resuV

<

after arriving

£*~ ^J

I

Sans

germ,

Ke

PPb

Jean Arp, Franci circle that included

69

CI,

re

1UH.

U

P/«) ""''

*'>"'"

^ and

.

um ia

^

fo „ owing

,

,

u

urn there

^ ^.^

a, the

,

.

access

artists.

,

^

a

,

g

«

expatr , ate ,

fa

( k „ u| ol socia |

h ,,,„ clasSes

m

NnK rK , n student

^ ^ ^ ^

profi , ing

^

modern

n,

cirj'spree

,,.

,

in

|

rench,

th«

irab o.

cole des Beaux-Arts,

where

the swdying th gove rnment funds were

^.^ ^ - «2"^ffi^££- *»« ^"" ** .

,«,rlv ne

1r

w|s m)[ $wdy> or admi

y m Pans with Jack Younger friends Cose he met and became Pans* year before. who had emigrate G.I. Bill, Swiss amte |urg Spille a hat summer, depleted. S

^

«.

m Oaota^48,

q|

(>l

ited

*g

-

;

theses, ud ents

What drove

^^

work being done his battal when 1944, geptembet

ul. n d"ld meet the dm. ^1 r':, he

phenomenon w u and d to at on e^demand "so amorphous as u the "student pa is

„,

late

:nts of ,,„, civilizations

,,

antiquit.es and shnnes t0 the cultural no. the onl, Kelly was certainly

colon, in Paris

m

as we,,

"ion

that Kell, be gi

,„ u

,

hehadv,

«^™ ^

"V r

'

lu

'•

,

eehis

>*

'

e

-

his

I

in

alsc

and certam moufs as his use of colot de d gr< approach to subject matter today. Kelly's years

-

g

d

.,

(hin

,

1

'

tl

was |im "

,, ol


Painting .n New York at the Solomon R. Guggenheim's Museum of Non-Objective well as Michel Seuphor, an as application, references on his Kelh enlisted Arp and Vantongerloo as In Carre. 1950 Seuphor had member of Cercle et rian cLmpion of De Stijl, and founding met Belgian artist Vantongerloo, a leading member of him to Arp; and through Spiller, Kelly

who was

director of

Le ^i

introduced

„, Mil Foe other names completed

Roche, package: John Cage, Edgar Kauffman, Henn-Pierre photographs and Frank Lloyd Wright." Fie sent twcntv-s,x

his grant

Youngerman's father-in-law Henri Seyrig, .as stamped rece.ved a the ith the application." The proposa of his drawings and paintings along « his oil 1951. later that month, Kelly arranged to have foundation ,n New York on November [8, of composed committee the attention of Combe III. March 1951 (fig. 6). sent to the painting The grosser.Carl and Young, Mahonr, Frankhn Watkins, Charles E Burchfield, Oronzio Maldarelli. to then sent Pans in Arnaud at Galerie featured that April in his fust solo exhibition c „n as had been seventy-fifth anniversary of the School o the celebrating exhibition an Boston for inclusion that June in Bourgogne at 31, December 6, 1951. writing front his room at the Hotel de the Museum of Fine Arts. On

U

twe, 1951 Ink

on paper, 7

Private collection.

v

8 inches

[19.1x20

J

cm]

Moe (then secretary general ot the foundation), Kelly explained, rue Saint Louis-en-1'Ile to Henry Allen Art Gallery. He further sent to you from Boston, from the Boris Mirski -I am havng a recent painting I am not applying tor a that explain to w.sh however and noted "1 am submitting the painting advisedly outlined to you. ready have a project 1 the pamtmg fellowship but a fellowship enabling me to execute Despite out. be carried will with which the project This painting will, however, help to clarify the spirit dated applicants, the foundation in a general form letter sent to his efforts, Kelh received word from applied for was denied." April 2, 1952, that the fellowship he had spent his days at the Musee du Louvre, the While enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux- Arts, Kelly Asiatiques-Guimet, as well as the Byzantine Musee de l'Homme, and the Musee National des Arts surmise that collection of mosaics and manuscripts. One could Institute which boasted an impressive stems from the Color," and Form subject developed in "Line, Kelly's interest in calibrated arches, a from the view inescapable an of Notre Dame (fig. 8), of which there is flying buttresses of the Cathedral see could he where matter, from his visits to the Guimet, He Saint-Louis, where he lived, or, for that Katsushika shapes in the epic prints by Japanese master the pronounced curves and quasi-abstract bow and arrow from the Khmer Empire (tig. 10). Hokusai (fig 9) or a twelfth/thirteenth-century bronze Form shape, a version ot which occurs in "Line According to Kelly, the specific origin of his mandorla in in the stonework of Notre-Dame-la-Grande and Color" (cat. no. 119.11), was the recessed eclipse or mereh Kelly by acknowledged correspondence-whether Poitiers France, Despite any apparent visual reassessments of to their sources. Rather, they are directly refer to meant never are

surmised-his forms but with no immutably fixed meaning. perceptual dynamics, not entirely without narrative; a plate from "Line, Form and One of the earliest examples of Kelly's arcs can be traced to Curve, voluptuous shapes ot Kelly s it is one of the most Color" (fig 7- cat no. 19.8). A deeply bowed curve, Pans form. The curve was an essential element in his oeuvre. In this work, line appears to genuflect to no. 3) and Mandorla cat. no. 4), work, as can be seen in such canvases as Kilometer Marker (cat. (cat. no. 8), would eventually 1950 Blue, both 1949. But its use in early reliefs such as Relief with New that of the shaped canvas. After he moved to lead him to one of his most critical breakthroughs, his revealed and painting, factor ot his York the curve once .mam became a significant, if not defining, featuring canvases in 1954, he began a series ot preoccupation at the time with organic forms. Beginning cat. no. 29). He rendered their contours example, for (see, edges 1

undulating hook, which was one of the first instances to even more elusivelv than that of the pliant curve from his precision. only the nuances ot nature but its sp endid disclose the artist's proclh it) toward capturing not fan-shaped expansive his ot arcs precise the more In later years, Kelb's surging motifs gave way to to Given the artist's use ot fragmentation, it ,s tempting 99). and 85 nos. cat. example, for paintings (see, book the in followed concisely drawn circles that read Core, as merely an enlarged section of the however, it is clear that its contours do not conform examination, ID). closer On 9 9. and nos 119 large, swollen forms, with

(cat

1

1


work, These often subtly rendered differences are paramount in Kelly's form, every calibrated proportion, opens up new vistas lor observation. his stay in Paris, (Cell) also

During

sought out other

artists.

and

in his studio

of

became acquainted met American

Spiller he

Through

nuance

since each

to theirs.

later

Brancusi with Alberto Magnelli and Picabia. He visited ( onstantin "He made me in L950, KelK later remarked, Vantongerloo meeting About Calder. artist Alexander One ol the mine didn t. was glad that understand that his kind of paintings had to have reasons. I composer/ American young that time was with most fruitful and lasting relationships he established at the Hotel residence, Kellys at one ,hs in |une 1949 performer/artist [ohn Cage; the two met by chance staving. In addition, Kelly

B

ichedral ol Notre

,

Dame,

unningham also happened to be de Bourgogne, where Cage and Merce ( the rue de la near the Bastille, or in the 1 atin Quarter on Lappe, de rue frequented jazz clubs along the and for the most there his years read a newspaper during Huchette. Seldom, according to Kelly, did he

Paris, France

remembers

nirr he P

Sev

program

Z

"ears before he arrived

in

American aid European Recovery Plan (ERP)-*n des gned wa It 1948-had swung into action

the city, the

became known as the Marshall Plan by Americans living the Communists' agenda.' Many European autonomy and to obstruct m and undo the auspices ol this program. During thes lin Kelly, found employment MarshaH the of in the Par, headquarters when Kelly worked nights as a custodian

that

res uTcitate

mcu

bro d

Paris as being a "closed society."

oSl,

I"

sessssssissssthe Katsushika Hokusai, Stonn on

^>

offKanagawa. Views o\

n.d.,

x

$7 cm)

...

fringes

Musee National des

^rts

* Breton

A

christened b,

Thirty

\!<""" '»" Woodblock prim

inches (25

14

series

from the

^^™^J ^%?*£gSE£ «

were play, and the found ob.ee, l9 20s. Haphazardness,

Open Sea

!924

bourgeois society throughout*. subconscious, the Surrea

to

human

ot tne

in

.W^ "^to

unconscious

of the

~ ^^S^^SSS£

aeration

of American

act of

spontaneou

In

in

u

h

r

fell)

and Pink and

I

f

no

ID. Artist

mpire, 12rlt-l

1

bo\n

10

long

10

<

SS

unknown, Bow and Arrow, Khmer

Mh

centuries. Bronzi and iron,

inches long (78

cm)

5

cm); arrow

Musee National des

15

inches

Arts Asiatiques-

rarel)

1

J

'

mmetrical after

w

brought h

.

Bell:

ll

P/a> ""''

^

" '"

product

;

Two

prominent

wte

(cat.

no

^

Brou*

.

forms.

with

1950.

[|k rigid .

. ,

19.35)

And where Arp chose

...

pla, as .g accident to

.,,1

* .J .^

I

geometr)

K,

diffe

spt^j^^iSiSiA—

!uimet, Paris

a

inescapable for Kelly,

M experime„, ed

'

J wl|h

paper scraps ^ployed a variety of different sto -b ugh or n drawings often used h

dare

^^

|ust as

B

a

hi* or torn paper scr ps recom pose his cutout Waldman And vet. as Diane o ..... did KelK. pirt Ha.es to the >ev ..

^^

(

automatism,

,

^^^^bLc*. me

.^

^"^T, ^ ^^ —^ ^

c (&g- »"• ll ' preceding plates

>ra«g«

established in the

expected recesses

- mk

^ ««>. wh

and Coburn, newly

saw chance spontaneous drawings. Kelh are plate, n examples of chance collages

WJS

cavorte d on the

it *>, and Surrea "s acknowledged u,,K

his art." the early stages of

summer 1949,

KelK

J

«*

...

p act i Ce

-•«;''

:^X^ZrJ^T£p^ vtal role

hll

x

>30s tngag.

I

Dadaists, and later the spectacle for the eves.

Asiatiques-Guimet, Paris

w)Wli

dkJ

mJ

linllU

,

Ke

ja arrangements

tah -'

;

,