Ellsworth Kelly
Dark Blue with Red (VI.7)
1964

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An original signed lithograph on Rives BFK wove paper by American artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) titled "Dark Blue with Red (VI.7)", 1964. Limited edition: 75 and 10 artist's proofs. Our example is 40/75. Hand pencil signed and numbered by Kelly lower left and right. Printed by Marcel Durassier at Imprimerie Maeght, Levallois-Perret. Published by Maeght Editeur, Paris, France in 1964. Comes from the "Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs" Portfolio executed 1964-1965. Reference: "The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly: A Catalogue Raisonne: (Axsom 10, page 43); Waldman 1971, No. 15, 257. This artwork is archivally framed, floated, museum mounted in a contemporary metal frame. Framed size: 36.25" x 24.75". Sheet size: 35.25" x 23.5". Zero toning, strong colors, in excellent condition.

When Kelly was in France in late 1964, he began two major series of lithographs for Aime and Marguerite Maeght, who were Parisian publishers of art books and fine-art-prints and co-owners of the Galerie Maeght. The first set of prints, the "Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs", was published in early 1965. The second group, twenty-eight prints, the "Suite of Plant Lithographs" (cat. nos. 32-59), was completed in the spring of 1966.

Although the image has no precedent in the paintings or sculptures, it is related to an unexecuted metal cutout sculpture for which a pencil drawing survives (EK No.64.16). The forms of this lithograph are related to "Blue with Yellow" (cat. No. 31), which was published in an edition avant lettre and as a poster that announced an exhibition of the "Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs" at the Galerie Maeght in June 1965.

Ellsworth Kelly (May 31, 1923 – December 27, 2015) was an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker associated with hard-edge painting, Color Field painting and minimalism. His works demonstrate unassuming techniques emphasizing simplicity of form, similar to the work of John McLaughlin and Kenneth Noland. Kelly often employed bright colors. He lived and worked in Spencertown, New York.

Details

  • Condition
    Excellent
  • Dimensions
    36.25 in. H x 24.75 in. W
  • Seller Location
    Charlottesville, VA
  • Reference Number
    LU12122196573

About Ellsworth Kelly (Artist)

Ellsworth Kelly was one of the key figures in postwar American art, exercising major influence on the fields of Pop art, minimalism, Color-Field, and hard-edge painting. Widely known for his brightly colored geometric compositions, he was among the first artists, alongside his contemporary Frank Stella, to use irregularly shaped canvases. Although highly abstract, Kelly’s paintings are precise expressions in color and form of his sensory experience of the world. His works, both two- and three-dimensional, are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and displayed at such sites as the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Kelly grew up in the town of Newburgh, New York, near the Oradell Reservoir. He was an avid birder as a child and loved the colorful illustrations of naturalist John James Audubon. Encouraged to study art by a high school teacher, he enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, remaining there until 1943, when he was inducted into the army. During World War II, he served along with scores of other artists, in a unit known as the Ghost Army, where he learned the elements of camouflage while creating ersatz trucks and tanks intended to mislead Axis forces.

When the war was over, Kelly took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, drawing inspiration from the museum's collections, and, later, at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. While in France, he immersed himself in the varied artistic movements and styles represented there and befriended Americans avant-gardists, such as composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham, as well as the German-French Surrealist Jean Arp and Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși.

Upon his return to the United States, in 1954, he found himself at odds with the dominant style of the period, Abstract Expressionism, which favored a dynamic and energetic application of paint in a loose manner. Like Stella, Kelly was interested in formal precision and explorations of color. Following an exhibition of his work at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1956, Kelly’s work was included in the "Young America 1957” show at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

During the 1960s, Kelly played with color and form to tease out and celebrate the tension between a painting’s subject and its background. In one of his most famous works, the 1963 Red Blue Green, for example, two shapes, one red, one blue, both contrast and resonate with a green background that extends to the edge of the canvas on both sides, appearing at moments to be the work’s primary shape. To explore this relationship between form and ground further, Kelly began using nontraditional, shaped canvases, as in the monochromatic 1966 Yellow Piece, from, whose two curved corners draws the eye to the wall behind it, as though the gallery wall itself were part of the composition. A lithograph from the same period, Blue and Orange consists of two shapes in the title’s complementary colors facing off against one another with a tension that makes them appear almost animated.

Kelly made drawings and prints throughout his career, using plants and flowers as his primary source of inspiration. Like his paintings, his drawings tend to be relatively flat in perspective, but they are rarely abstract. This 1993 drawing of an oak leaf is clearly representational, but rendered with very minimal color and line. In the mid-1960s, he produced the series “Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs” with the Paris-based Maeght Éditeur.

Later, collaborating with Gemini G.E.L., he created very large-scale works, such as 1988’s Purple/Red/Gray/Orange, which is 18 feet long and might be one of the biggest lithographs ever made. Kelly produced 140 sculptures, including the aluminum White Curves, created for the Fondation Beyeler, in Riehen, Switzerland, in 2002. In his three-dimensional works, as in his paintings, Kelly used form, color and light to play with perceptions of surface and depth, inviting viewers to look closely and see the world in a new way.

About the Seller

1stdibs seller since 2015

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Located in Charlottesville, VA

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