Ellsworth Kelly "Color Paper XVI" - Mixed Media Art by Ellsworth Kelly
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Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly "Color Paper XVI"

1976

About

Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923) is one of the masters of American minimalism. He is collected internationally and renowned for his signature hypnotic shapes realized in single saturated colors. Like many artists who had served in the US military during WWII, Kelly took advantage of the G.I. Bill and moved to Paris to study art in the late 1940s only to return to the US in 1954. Kelly was one of the first artists, along with Frank Stella, to use oddly shaped canvases and contributed to the nascent genre of Minimalism. Similar to Stella, Kelly began to explore printmaking in the late 1960s and it became an essential part of his practice. Like many of his contemporaries (such as Kenneth Noland and Louise Nevelson) he was enchanted by handmade and pulp papers and experimented with this new development in printmaking. MoMA explains: "this series was created by ladling colored paper pulp into plastic and metal forms and then applying the pressure of the printing press to fuse the colored pulp to a wet sheet of paper. These prints retain the basic characteristics of Kelly's work: his vocabulary of geometric shapes, curves, and arcs, and his brilliant color. However, this project also marks a departure for the artist in several ways. The bleed of the wet paper pulp prevents the shapes from achieving a clean edge, while the tactile texture of the handmade paper and pulp introduces a new variability of surface. Further, the unpredictable nature of the materials allows chance to enter into Kelly's highly controlled working process. The result is significant variations between impressions within each edition." While Ellsworth Kelly's prints have become some of the most valuable works on the secondary market, these small editions from the mid 1970's are incredibly sought-after by collectors around the world. Kelly's work can be found in every major American museum's permanent collection in addition to the MoMA (New York), the Centre Pompidou (Paris) the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), Tate Modern (London) and the National Gallery (Ottawa). Questions about this artwork? Contact us. "Colored Paper Image XVI (Blue Yellow Red)", 1976 Colored and pressed paper pulp Signed and numbered by the artist From an edition of 25 32"H 31"W (sheet) 41"H 29.5"W (frame) Printed by Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford, New York Provenance: Susan Sheehan Gallery Very good condition

Details

  • Gallery Location
    Toronto, CA
  • Reference Number
    LU21524535712
  • Seller Reference Number
    06-19
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About Ellsworth Kelly (Artist)

Ellsworth Kelly was one of the key figures in postwar American art, exercising major influence on the fields of Pop art, minimalism, Color-Field, and hard-edge painting. Widely known for his brightly colored geometric compositions, he was among the first artists, alongside his contemporary Frank Stella, to use irregularly shaped canvases. Although highly abstract, Kelly’s paintings are precise expressions in color and form of his sensory experience of the world. His works, both two- and three-dimensional, are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and displayed at such sites as the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.


Kelly grew up in the town of Newburgh, New York, near the Oradell Reservoir. He was an avid birder as a child and loved the colorful illustrations of naturalist John James Audubon. Encouraged to study art by a high school teacher, he enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, remaining there until 1943, when he was inducted into the army. During World War II, he served along with scores of other artists, in a unit known as the Ghost Army, where he learned the elements of camouflage while creating ersatz trucks and tanks intended to mislead Axis forces.


When the war was over, Kelly took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, drawing inspiration from the museum's collections, and, later, at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. While in France, he immersed himself in the varied artistic movements and styles represented there and befriended Americans avant-gardists, such as composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham, as well as the German-French Surrealist Jean Arp and Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși.


Upon his return to the United States, in 1954, he found himself at odds with the dominant style of the period, Abstract Expressionism, which favored a dynamic and energetic application of paint in a loose manner. Like Stella, Kelly was interested in formal precision and explorations of color. Following an exhibition of his work at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1956, Kelly’s work was included in the "Young America 1957” show at the Whitney Museum of American Art.


During the 1960s, Kelly played with color and form to tease out and celebrate the tension between a painting’s subject and its background. In one of his most famous works, the 1963 Red Blue Green, for example, two shapes, one red, one blue, both contrast and resonate with a green background that extends to the edge of the canvas on both sides, appearing at moments to be the work’s primary shape. To explore this relationship between form and ground further, Kelly began using nontraditional, shaped canvases, as in the monochromatic 1966 Yellow Piece, from, whose two curved corners draws the eye to the wall behind it, as though the gallery wall itself were part of the composition. A lithograph from the same period, Blue and Orange consists of two shapes in the title’s complementary colors facing off against one another with a tension that makes them appear almost animated.


Kelly made drawings and prints throughout his career, using plants and flowers as his primary source of inspiration. Like his paintings, his drawings tend to be relatively flat in perspective, but they are rarely abstract. This 1993 drawing of an oak leaf is clearly representational, but rendered with very minimal color and line. In the mid-1960s, he produced the series “Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs” with the Paris-based Maeght Éditeur.


Later, collaborating with Gemini G.E.L., he created very large-scale works, such as 1988’s Purple/Red/Gray/Orange, which is 18 feet long and might be one of the biggest lithographs ever made. Kelly produced 140 sculptures, including the aluminum White Curves, created for the Fondation Beyeler, in Riehen, Switzerland, in 2002. In his three-dimensional works, as in his paintings, Kelly used form, color and light to play with perceptions of surface and depth, inviting viewers to look closely and see the world in a new way.

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