Ellsworth Kelly, Dark Blue Relief, 2008
Oil on canvas, two joined panels, 80 x 80 inches
Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled, 1957
Ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches
February 5 – April 11, 2009
Matthew Marks announces two exhibitions by Ellsworth Kelly: Diagonal.
Ellsworth Kelly: Diagonal
The exhibition features eight two-panel paintings from 2007 and 2008, on view in the 22nd Street gallery. Each consists of a black or white rectangle with a contrasting black, white, or colored rectangle placed diagonally on top and extending beyond the boundary of the canvas below.
In the catalog published to accompany the exhibition, Johanna Burton writes: “What Kelly is producing does not end at the edge…a shadow is thrown, but rather than demarcating the shape and space of the work more clearly, it works to utterly confuse what is being looked at: these are paintings that, in places, don’t end or, perhaps, refuse to show how they begin. Rather than a perceptual fluke or an experiment in phenomenology, however, this is, I think, a part of the painting.”
Four additional paintings will be shown in the 24th Street gallery. A two-panel black and white relief, completed early in 2007, is the oldest work in the exhibition and anticipates the diagonal paintings. The only curved canvas the artist has made in the last few years, which shows Kelly’s more lyrical side, is a dark blue and white painting, and is also on view here. Completing the exhibition are two multi-colored paintings in three and four-panels related to ideas with which Kelly first started working in the 1950s.
Ellsworth Kelly: Drawings 1954 – 1962
This exhibition consists of 23 drawings in a variety of media, including ink, graphite, oil paint and collage. Modest in scale, with no dimension larger than fourteen inches, many of the works in the exhibition are working drawings relating to larger paintings. They were made in the first years after Kelly returned to New York from Paris in 1954, where he lived for six years after WWII, studying on the G.I. Bill. The artist’s touch is much in evidence, and the drawings have an immediacy unusual in Kelly’s work. All of the drawings are exhibited here for the first time.
Beginning in Paris, and continuing in New York, Kelly developed a unique vocabulary of abstraction based on the observation of nature and the world around him. The drawings in this exhibition give the viewer an opportunity to see Ellsworth Kelly as a young artist exploring the full range of abstraction within his chosen vocabulary.
A fully illustrated catalogue, including an essay by the art historian Richard Shiff, will be available.