Notes on Ellsworth Kelly


“…it is his plant drawings (which he refers to, with a degree of exaggeration, as “plant portraits”) that he uses as the starting point for his abstract ideas and images. Here, in the interplay of two and three dimensionality, silhouette and outline, line and figure, the positive shape of the leaf and the negative background between the leaves, abstraction and nature are subtly combined.”

“I have wanted to free shape from its ground, and then to work the shape so that it has a definite relationship to the space around it … the shape finds its own space and always demands it’s freedom and separateness.”

“In many ways. art can be seen as a result of a narrowing focus. After all, we share the same world; it is what we choose from that world and how we put it together that makes the difference. A work of art is a pinpoint perspective, with all other influences filtered out, and the choices an artist make in narrowing down the possibility usually remain a mystery to the viewers.”


“Tablet 1948-1973″…is a collection of around 200 examples, frame in groups, of the most mundane household detritus-magazines and newspaper clippings, a cigarette package, a Sno-Cone wrapper, a ticket stub, gallery announcements, letters and envelopes, jolted notes, a subway map-each piece of which has been transformed through a few strokes of pencils, pen or brush, into a signature Kelly. Perusing them, it seemed as if almost every visual stimulus could get him going. Indeed, he said later of the time in which he did them, “everywhere I looked, everything I saw became something to be made…it all belonged to me: a glass roof of a factory with its broken and patched panels, line on a road map, a corner of a Braque painting, paper fragments on the street.” – by Carol Diehl

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