1923 (Newburgh, New York)
Often Known For
minimalist painting and sculpture
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Minimalist painter and sculptor, Ellsworth Kelly explains, "By removing
the content from my work I shifted the visual reality of painting to
include the space around it." Kelly was born May 31, 1923 in Newburgh,
New York. He studied at Pratt Institute* Brooklyn, from 1941 to
1943. After military service from 1943 to 1945, he attended the
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1946 to 1947. |
studied art in Paris from 1948 to 1954, when post-war Paris was the
home of European Abstraction and the avant-garde*. He enrolled at
the Ecole des Beaux-Arts* in Paris under the G.I. Bill, although he
attended classes infrequently. In France, he discovered
Romanesque* art and architecture and Byzantine art. He was also
introduced to Surrealism* and Neo-Plasticism*, which led him to
experiment with automatic drawing and geometric abstraction*.
1950, Kelly met Jean Arp and that same year began to make shaped-wood
reliefs and collages* in which elements were arranged according to the
laws of chance. He soon began to make paintings in separate
panels that can be recombined to produce alternate compositions, as
well as multi-panel paintings in which each canvas is painted a single
color. During the 1950s, he traveled throughout France, where he
socialized with Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Alberto
Magnelli, Francis Picabia, Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Joan
Miro and Georges Vantongerloo , among other artists. His first
solo show took place at the Galerie Arnaud, Paris, in 1951.
six formative years in Paris, Kelly returned to the United States in
1954, living first in a studio apartment on Broad Street, and then at
Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan, where his neighbors included Robert
Indiana, Agnes Martin, Fred Mitchell, James Rosenquist, Lenore Tawney,
and Jack Youngerman. At this time he "used his canvases to
explore the concept of spectral color and expressed his fascination
with the resonance of color."
His first solo show in New
York was held at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1956, and three years
later he was included in Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art,
New York. In 1958, he also began to make freestanding sculptures.
He moved out of Manhattan in 1970, set up a studio in Chatham, and a
home in nearby Spencertown, New York.
retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in
1973. The following year, Kelly began an ongoing series of
totemic sculptures in steel and aluminum. He traveled throughout
Spain, Italy, and France in 1977, when his work was included in
Documenta in Kassel.
He has executed many public commissions, including a mural for UNESCO
in Paris in 1969, sculpture for the city of Barcelona in 1978, and a
memorial for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington,
D.C., in 1993.
Kelly's extensive work has been recognized in numerous retrospective
exhibitions, including a sculpture exhibition at the Whitney Museum of
American Art, New York, in 1982; an exhibition of works on paper and a
show of his print works that traveled extensively in the United States
and Canada from 198788; and a career retrospective in 1996 organized by
the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, which traveled to the
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Tate Gallery, London; and
the Haus der Kunst, Munich. Kelly lives in Spencertown, New York.
Guggenheim Collection, www.guggenheimcollection.org
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Artists
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see
|** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.|