Artist biography

Ellsworth Kelly born 1923

American abstract painter, lithographer and sculptor. Born in Newburgh, New York. Studied at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, 1941-2. Served in the US Army 1943-5, then studied at the Boston Museum School 1946-8. Lived 1948-54 in Paris. Turned in 1949 from paintings of the human figure influenced by Picasso and Klee to abstract art; visited the studios of Brancusi, Vantongerloo, Arp. Made pictures abstracted from fragments of the seen world (windows, plant forms, shadows falling onto a flight of steps, etc.) and others based on regular modules, including composite works assembled from a number of panels each painted a single, uniform colour. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Arnaud, Paris, 1951. Returned to New York in 1954 and began to make paintings in black and white, or one colour and white, with semi-organic shapes, edge tensions and figure-ground relationships. Awarded one of four equal main prizes for painting at the 1964 Pittsburgh International. From the mid-1960s reverted to the use of opposing colour areas and a modular structure. His sculptures, sometimes in relief, sometimes free-standing, consist of painted cut-out metal shapes related to those in the paintings. Lives in New York.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.383