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Ellsworth Kelly

American, 1923-2015

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 and prints are precise expressions in color and form of his sensory experience of the world.

Kelly's 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, 1963's 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. A 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.

Find original Ellsworth Kelly art on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$4,141
Styles
Materials
Ellsworth Kelly, Two Curves, Signed lithograph, Abstract Art, Minimalism
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in Hamburg, DE
Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923-2015) Two Curves, 2011 Medium: Lithograph on wove paper Sheet dimensions: 20 x 26 cm (7.8 x 10.2 in) Frame dimensions: 33.5 x 27 x 2.9 cm Edition of 1...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Abstract Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Lithograph

Light Blue with Orange (Bleu clair avec orange) VI.11
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in Austin, TX
Artist: Ellsworth Kelly Title: Light Blue with Orange (Bleu clair avec orange) from Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs One from a series of twenty-seven lithographs Year: 1964-1...
Category

1960s Minimalist Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Lithograph

Yellow with Dark Blue (Jaune avec bleu foncé)
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in Austin, TX
Artist: Ellsworth Kelly Title: Yellow with Dark Blue (Jaune avec Bleu Foncé), from the Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs Year: 1964-65 Medium: Lithograph in colors, on Rives BF...
Category

1960s Minimalist Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Lithograph

Black/Brown
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in New York, NY
Printer: Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles Publisher: Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles Edition size: 50, plus proofs Catalogue raisonné: Axsom 79 Signed and numbered, lower margin
Category

1960s Minimalist Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Lithograph

2005 Ellsworth Kelly 'Red, Yellow, Blue' Minimalism Red,Yellow,Blue,Black France
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Paper Size: 26.3 x 19.5 inches ( 66.802 x 49.53 cm ) Image Size: 19.5 x 19.5 inches ( 49.53 x 49.53 cm ) Framed: No Condition: A-: Near Mint, very light signs of handling Addit...
Category

Early 2000s Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Offset

Derrière Le Miroir No. 149 (front cover)
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in Saint Augustine, FL
An original lithograph on smooth wove paper by American artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) "Derrière Le Miroir No. 149 (front cover)", 1964. The image was derived from two collages ...
Category

1960s Minimalist Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Lithograph

Fondation Maeght (Red, Yellow, Blue)
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in Saint Augustine, FL
An original lithograph on heavy Stonehenge paper after American artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) titled "Fondation Maeght (Red, Yellow, Blue)", 2005. Limited edition: approx. 1,000...
Category

Early 2000s Minimalist Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Lithograph

1980 Benefit Exhibition Poster
By Ellsworth Kelly
Located in New York, NY
Ellsworth Kelly, an early and frequent artwork contributor to the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) created this poster for FCA's 1980 benefit exhibition of drawings at Leo Cast...
Category

1980s Ellsworth Kelly

Materials

Screen

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Galleries Featuring Ellsworth Kelly

Susan Sheehan Gallery
5.0
Upsilon Gallery
No Reviews Yet
Graves International Art
5.0
GREGG SHIENBAUM FINE ART
5.0
Avery & Dash Collections
4.9
Composition Gallery
No Reviews Yet
Marlborough Graphics
5.0
Berggruen Gallery
No Reviews Yet
Matthew Marks Gallery
5.0

Ellsworth Kelly art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Ellsworth Kelly art for sale. If you're looking for a way to add color to a neutral corner of your living room or bedroom, you can find work that includes elements of blue, yellow, green and other colors. You can also browse art by Ellsworth Kelly in lithograph, paper, screen print and more by medium. Much of this artist's original work was created during the 20th century and is mostly associated with the Minimalist style. Not every interior allows for large Ellsworth Kelly art, so small editions measuring 6.75 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Robert Mangold, Ronald Davis and Richard Serra. Ellsworth Kelly art prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $75 and tops out at $65,000, while the average work can sell for $18,000.

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