Ellsworth KELLY

(1923 - 2015)

American abstract painter and sculptor, born 31 May, 1923 in Newburgh, New York. Lives and works in New York.

Ellsworth Kelly is related to, although precedes, the minimalist movement that began in the 1960s in the United States. After fighting in France in 1944, he went to Paris in 1948 to study at the Beaux-Arts and his first exhibition was held there in 1951. He developed an abstract visual vocabulary that is part of a century-old question about painting and its means and the act of observing. He most notably created shaped canvases whose edges are not orthogonal but irregular or curved and question the opposition between painting and sculpture.

Ellsworth Kelly exhibited for the first time at the Galerie Maeght in 1958 and made original lithographs for the review Derrière Le Miroir as well as a poster for the exhibition. He spent the summer of 1963 in Saint-Paul de Vence, the summer before the opening of the Maeght Foundation. From his walks in the flower and vegetable gardens at the Maeght residence, he created a painting entitled Red, yellow, blue (1963, oil on canvas, 231 x 231 cm, the Marguerite and Aimé Maeght Foundation collection) and a series of original lithographs. The artist questions painting by making an abstract work where colors, here reduced to the three primary colors in his painting, are flatly applied without any nuance or value. Even the surface is being questioned by a false square format which actually consists of three paintings, one for each form, that fit into each other. The work, by its human scale, questions our experience of the work, color and space so dear to minimalist artists.



Red, yellow, blueRed, yellow, blueCyclamen I
Red, yellow, blue, 1963

Huile sur toile
231 x 231 cm
Collection Fondation Maeght
Cyclamen I, 1964

Lithographie originale en noir sur Rives
90 x 61 cm
Collection Fondation Maeght