Ellsworth Kelly, 1923 - 2015
December 28, 2015 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Ellsworth Kelly,, an American painter, printmaker, sculptor, and photographer, died Sunday at the age of 92.

The artist, who began his artistic career via a special unit which created fake tanks to fool German intelligence, and then studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts is Boston under the GI Bill before studying at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Kelly worked in abstraction for most of his career, delighting in strong, pure colors and simple shapes. His art reflected his interest in automatic drawing (a technique learned from Surrealism) and his early work in Europe. In fact, his early attempts to return to America and become successful in New York's art scene were hindered by cramped galleries, his interest in monochromatic canvases, and what was seen as a European sensibility that was unlike the work of, for example, Jackson Pollock. This sensibility has led to him being dubbed by some The American Matisse.

Later, Kelly would branch out into sculpture, continuing to focus on color and very simple forms.

As Jerry Saltz says, "He gives permission to just love color, prettiness, the miracle of chromatic intensities — for themselves and the sensations that seem inherent, internal, part of form itself." And while his work can be seen easily via the internet, he, like Rothko, is an artist who should particularly be experienced in person, where the eye can be delighted.
posted by PussKillian (18 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:42 AM on December 28, 2015

I spent all morning wanting to put together a post on this. Thanks.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:42 AM on December 28, 2015

posted by discopolo at 11:14 AM on December 28, 2015

posted by tychotesla at 11:22 AM on December 28, 2015

There's an amazing diversion down the Ghost Army route as well as a couple of podcast episodes (99 PI or Radiolab maybe) that are well worth a listen. Kelly's celebration of colour is breathtaking and meditative in person and it's sad to know there will be no more works.

posted by a halcyon day at 11:25 AM on December 28, 2015

posted by Thorzdad at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2015

. .

posted by Doleful Creature at 11:33 AM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2015

Thanks for this post. I loved his work. Spectrum V was one of my favorite works at the Met.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:40 PM on December 28, 2015

posted by ldthomps at 12:41 PM on December 28, 2015

Hopefully this means that in a couple of years we'll get a major retrospective here in NYC.
posted by Jahaza at 12:46 PM on December 28, 2015

I was going to put together a post as well and am happy to see this one, nicely done. Ellsworth Kelly was one of the first artists whose work made me feel like I could "get" abstract art on a personal level.
posted by desuetude at 12:49 PM on December 28, 2015

I loved his work. A wonderful painter. I'm glad he had a long and fruitful life.

posted by Kattullus at 1:13 PM on December 28, 2015

Apologies for beating a few of you guys to the punch - and now all I can see are typos I should have fixed. Oh, well.

My museum only has a small print of his and I haven't seen a lot of his work in person, but what I have seen is really gorgeous. Big swerves of pure color that you can fall into.
posted by PussKillian at 1:57 PM on December 28, 2015

□ ▯ ◇ ▻
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:06 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:42 PM on December 28, 2015

He did make quite a mark. Unflinchingly straightforward art.
posted by Capybara at 3:04 PM on December 28, 2015

posted by ianhattwick at 1:04 PM on December 29, 2015

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