Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Biography

The deceptively simple, universally appealing art of Ellsworth Kelly used graphic lines and bold colors to help define the evolution of minimalism in the twentieth century. Kelly worked in painting, sculpting, and printmaking and was also an important contributor to the hard edge painting and color field techniques.

Born in 1923, Ellsworth Kelly’s childhood love of bird watching is said to have heavily influenced his artist vision. Although he was interested in art from an early age, his art career did not begin until after the conclusion of his WWII service. Kelly used the G.I. Bill to study at the School of Fine Arts in Boston and later the prestigious École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He spent six years in Paris trying to launch his art career before running out of money and coming back to America in 1954. While he hoped he could find more success in his home country, his art career had trouble launching in America as well. At odds with the predominant American art trends, his style was initially considered too European for most American galleries and collectors at the time. Kelly held his first solo exhibition in1956 at the Betty Parsons Gallery and continued to gain exposure and acclaim. By 1959, he had been accepted fully into the art world and his work was featured at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1970, Kelly moved to Spenctertown, New York where he lived until his death in 2015.

Throughout his career, Ellsworth Kelly created several large-scale installation works, including an UNESCO mural in Paris, a sculpture in Barcelona, and a memorial for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Kelly’s first retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1973, and since that time his work has been featured in many others, including London’s Tate Gallery, Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the Guggenheim, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

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