On The Square

Less is More

By Rago Fine Art Specialist, Lauren Bradley

Nov 02,2017 | 16:00 EDT

Ellsworth Kelly was reluctant to be classified as a Hard-Edge, Minimal or Color Field artist, though his work can easily be associated with any of these three movements.

Lot 217, Ellsworth Kelly, 18 Colors (Cincinnati, Lithograph in colors on Arches, 1982; Estimate $15,000 - $25,000

As a young man, Kelly studied at Pratt Institute in New York, but was drafted into military service before he could complete his course of study. Sent to Europe in 1943, he remained after his service ended, living in France from 1948 through 1954. There he created some ‘Picasso-like’ compositions, mainly figurative, but was dissatisfied with the work.

Lot 200, Ellsworth Kelly, Colored Paper Image V (Blue Curves), Colored and pressed paper pulp, 1976; Estimate $8,000 - $12,000

In an interview with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kelly describes being more fascinated with the windows in the building in which he was exhibiting than with the work he was creating. It was at this point that he began to explore abstraction, looking at shadows, architecture and everyday structural elements as inspiration. The art that resulted emphasized geometric form and the opposition of positive and negative space. His palette became bold and vibrant, centering on the interplay between contrasting and complementary tones.

Lot 239, Ellsworth Kelly, Green Black, Lithograph in colors (framed), 1970-72; Estimate $4,000 - $6,000

Ellsworth Kelly was a prolific and accomplished printmaker. The clean lines, curves, and grids of his work were perfectly suited for the precise nature of printing. Although he explored a variety of printing mediums, Kelly was most drawn to the lithograph. The lithographic stone allowed him the freedom to draw the contours of both his famed plant forms and his dynamic geometric work. As a result, Kelly’s output of graphic work was vast and varied. From the 1960s, when he first began to explore the medium, until his death in 2015, he created over 330 editions. He is one of a handful of 20th-century artists who have been given retrospectives devoted exclusively to graphic work.

Lot 227, Ellsworth Kelly, Red Curve, State 1 from Fans, Lithograph in colors, 1988; Estimate $7,000 - $10,000

Rago Auctions will be offering twelve lots by Ellsworth Kelly in their Property from the Collection of an Important American Corporation sale on November 11th. The majority of these pieces come directly from a major American corporation; others were consigned by private collectors.

Lot 256, Ellsworth Kelly, Grape Leaves III, Lithograph on paper (framed) 1973-74; Estimate $4,000 - $6,000

There is so much to discover this November at Rago! Click the following links to browse rare and authentic items from five of their upcoming catalogs:

Rago Auctions, Timed Auction, Great Estates & Curiouser and Curiouser Passed Lots (10/23-11/06).

Rago Auctions, 19/20th C. American/European Art, November 11th

Rago Auctions, Property from the Collection of an Important American Corporation, November 11th

Rago Auctions, Post War & Contemporary Art, November 11th

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