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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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