The form of my painting is the content
Ellsworth Kelly Notes 1969
Since the late 1940s, the American artist Ellsworth Kelly has used fleeting forms observed in his daily life to explore abstraction. Reducing and repeating sections or views through doorways, windows, clothing, foliage or shadows falling across structures, he created new illusions of space and colour in paintings revealing his extraordinary poetic vision and sense of geometric clarity.
Kelly’s skill in working with form, colour, space and edge to create potent visual statements, results from his acute spatial sensibility and experience in fusing these elements. Kelly treats colour as an independent element. Representation no longer plays a role but colour itself becomes form; a kind of sculpture of colour if you like, where the volume of the architectural plane or wall on which his painted object sits, becomes part of the work.
Kelly is no Minimalist but an artist who paints in series. Restricted (initially) to exploiting primary colour and repetition in opposing areas, he creates a tension through visual contrasts. The meticulous refinement of his vocabulary of shapes and colour relationships continues to be an ongoing pursuit. Kelly often plays with relationships such as light and shadow and the painting’s edge as the joining and separation of areas. He has an unusual sense of scale – see Yellow Curve 1996 for example, and an interest in subverting the painting’s edge and picture plane. Uniquely, he has made the act of seeing itself the central subject of his work.