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Untitled Ellsworth Kelly


Ellsworth Kelly Newburgh, New York 1923 – Spencertown, New York, 2015

Date 1970
Object type print
Medium, technique colour lithograph

105.5 x 76.5 cm

Inventory number MO.91.75
Collection Department of Art after 1800
On view This artwork is not on display

Joining the hard-edge painters, Kelly scored first success as one of the main representatives of post-war American abstract art. For a long time, the abstract elements, outlines, colour contrasts began with a study of natural forms, though their origin became blurred in the homogenized and brilliant colour surface. Later he superseded all figural connotations and by the 1960s he had earned the title of the most painterly painter of Post-Painterly Abstraction, a trend of great influence all over the world.
By the utmost simplification of abstract forms avoiding any start from nature, he came closer to the reductive ideas of minimalist art. A larger series of pictures constructed of homogeneous planar colour fields divided by sharp lines shows at times two or even three connected trapezoid colour fields. The trapezoid as a form implies the idea of spatiality. In Kelly’s series, however, the only (divided) element of the picture is a diagonal motif resisting further simplification. With its highly sophisticated hues and subtle balance of saturated colours, it constitutes a peculiar formal tension within the planar relations of the picture. It is with the most trivial means that the simple colour linkages charge the abstract form with intensity and a force affecting the entire surface.
Since 1964, Kelly has made prints for Gemini G.E.L. of Los Angeles in which he tests colour and form combinations for his constructions on large panels. The same year as the sheet in the collection was made he moved from Manhattan to a suburb of New York. He continued to experiment with pictures and sculptures mostly created from the confrontation of two colours but, in response to the challenges of the new decade, the forms he applied were now arched.

Ferenc Tóth

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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