Black and White Drawings
In his new paintings, Kelly, now 87 years old, has distilled his palette and introduced forms never before seen in his work. In each work, he starts with a rectangular canvas that he carefully paints with many coats of white paint. A shaped canvas, painted black in all but two works, is placed on top. The exceptions are a luminous pale gray canvas and a single bright red canvas. The aluminum wall sculpture in the exhibition is lacquered a pure white.
The self-imposed restricted vocabulary Kelly uses in the new work focuses the eye on his compositions, which, with their sharp diagonals and dramatic curves, are among the most dynamic of his career.
The sources for these new forms can be discovered in the twenty works on paper on view in Ellsworth Kelly: Black and White Drawings, the exhibition in the gallery at 526 West 22nd Street. Most of these works on paper were made between 1954 and 1959, shortly after Kelly returned to New York after living in Paris for six years. The connection between these works and Kelly’s 2010 paintings underscores the artist’s unique vision over more than half a century.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated hardcover publication including an essay by Robert Storr.
Ellsworth Kelly (born 1923) lives and works in upstate New York. His work has been the subject of important exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Tate Modern, London, among many others. In 2009, the Art Institute of Chicago commissioned Kelly’s largest sculpture, the 54-foot-long White Curve, as the only permanent installation for their new Modern Wing.
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