Ellsworth Kelly MMoCA Collects

American, 1923

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Ellsworth Kelly. Photograph © Jack Shear.
Ellsworth Kelly, Red/Blue, from the portfolio "Ten Works x Ten Painters", 1964, screenprint, 1964.

Ellsworth Kelly numbers among the greatest abstract artists of the twentieth century. Working as a young artist in France in the early 1950s and returning to New York in 1954, he soon gained recognition as a proponent of a new type of abstraction emphasizing brilliant color and clear-cut shapes. Kelly's shapes were often the rectangular or geometric shape of the canvas itself, which he painted in vibrant colors. Although variously linked to hard-edge painting, post-painterly abstraction, and minimalist art, his art evades easy categorization. Kelly is also a gifted draftsman, whose ink and pencil drawings and plant lithographs reveal a significant representational side to his art. In their linear simplicity of form, Kelly sees this body of work as a "bridge" to his color abstraction.

Kelly has also distinguished himself as a sculptor and printmaker, in each instance rivaling the achievements of notable artists who work in these media. Kelly has long since held international acclaim, with exhibitions, commissions, and works in major museums worldwide.

Related Topics

Suggested Readings

Axsom, Richard H. The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly: A Catalogue Raisonné 1949-1985. New York (now Manchester, Vermont): Hudson Hills Press, 1987.

Waldman, Diane (ed.). Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective. New York: Guggenheim Museum Publications, 1996.

Lesson Plans

Teaching Pages

Ellsworth Kelly, Red/Blue, from the portfolio "Ten Works x Ten Painters", 1964, 1964, screenprint, 22 x 18 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the Betty Parsons Foundation. 1985.36C © Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly. Photograph © Jack Shear.