Ellsworth Kelly, Pioneer of 20th Century Abstraction, Passes Away at 92

December 28th, 2015

Ellsworth Kelly, Curves on White (Four Panels), 2012
Ellsworth Kelly, Curves on White (Four Panels) (2012), via Art Observed

Ellsworth Kelly, a pioneer of 20th Century abstraction and an early voice in the development of color field painting and cut-canvas work, has passed away at the age of 92.

Ellsworth Kelly, via The Guardian

Born in the upstate town of Newburgh, N.Y., in 1923, Kelly would travel between New York and Paris in his early years, as he developed his early interests in architectural depth and minimal arrangements of color and form.  “I realized I didn’t want to compose pictures,” Kelly was quoted in the New York Times in 1996. ”I wanted to find them. I felt that my vision was choosing things out there in the world and presenting them. To me the investigation of perception was of the greatest interest. There was so much to see, and it all looked fantastic to me.”

Ellsworth Kelly, via WSJ
Ellsworth Kelly, via WSJ

Kelly’s work would find an audience in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, representing the USA at the 1966 Venice Biennale and continuing to pursue his increasingly spare works, which matched simple, flowing shapes and studious pairings of color and line that explored interactions of space and light.  This is perhaps no better seen than in the artist’s Austin, a permanent installation, and one of the last works from the artist’s oeuvre, that combines the artist’s interest in spatialized painting and the effects of color on perception.

The death was announced by Kelly’s dealer, Matthew Marks.  Kelly is survived by his longtime partner Jack Shear.

Ellsworth Kelly - Reliefs - New York - Black Curve Diagonal 2010
Ellsworth Kelly, Black Curve Diagonal (2010), via Art Observed


Read more:
Ellsworth Kelly, an Artist Who Mixed Abstract With Simplicity, Dies at 92 [NYT]
Artist Ellsworth Kelly, Master Of Colorful Abstraction, Dies At 92 [NPR]