Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 1942
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain
Tate Modern, London, England
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Menil Collection, Houston, TX
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY
Ellsworth Kelly is an American artist associated with hard-edge and color-field painting, and his works were significant precursors to Minimalism. Known for his pristine works with simple forms in unmodulated, saturated colors rendered with reductive clarity, Kelly has redefined abstraction in art with paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures.
Early works painted by Kelly in the 1950s were often multicolored grids that examined the spatial and visual relationships of various color combinations. In his mature monochromatic work he continued this theme by distilling forms and sensitive spatial relationships, refined from observations of the world around him—plant and architectural forms, and other subtle forms like those found in fleeting shadows and reflections. Working in large formats he has employed seriality in investigating planar masses in both rectilinear geometries and suggestive curves. During the 1960s Kelly began working with shaped canvases. With Yellow Piece (1966), the painting as a singular shape draws the wall behind it into the composition and includes it into a figure/ground relationship.
Although he is one of the premier non-representational artists of the past 50 years, Kelly has also produced a body of carefully, delicate line drawings, watercolors, and prints of plants. These works, such as his 1992 lithograph Oak VII, are studies in form and composition that have influenced his monochromes, as well as works of fine art that stand alone.
In his recent paintings, Kelly has restricted his palette while simultaneously introducing new forms. In each work, he starts with a rectangular canvas which he carefully paints with many coats of white paint; a shaped canvas, typically painted black, is placed on top, creating a kind of diptychal relief. Kelly has also experimented with painted aluminum, in which works obtain a highly gloss surface that reflects and absorbs the space around it.
Kelly lives and works in Spencertown, New York. Kelly has had major exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. His work is in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and Tate Modern.