Abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly died on Sunday, December 27, 2015, at his home in Spencertown , N.Y. He was 92 years old. His death was announced by his gallery, Mark Matthews Gallery in New York City, and reported by the New York Times.
Ellsworth Kelly was known for his shaped canvases of abstract paintings of bright colors that "...evaded critical attempts to classify him as a Color Field, hard-edge or Minimalist painter," according to a description at Mark Matthews Gallery. "Kelly's visual vocabulary is drawn from observation of the world around him—shapes and colors found in plants, architecture, shadows on a wall or a lake—and has been shaped by his interest in the spaces between places and objects and between his work and its viewers.
Kelly has said, "In my work, I don't want you to look at the surface; I want you to look at the form, the relationships."
In a review for Hamptons Art Hub, Pac Pobric wrote "What's so brilliant about Kelly's shaped works is how deceptive they are. Even the pieces that appear to be square are not; they're not even parallelograms. Slight curves in one direction or another throw each of these sculptures and paintings into an uncanny relationship with the simple geometric shapes they seemingly mimic. This is especially true of the works on metal. What's even more remarkable—and this is the core of their success—is that it’s impossible to remember exactly what a work looks like after you’ve walked away from it. You have to see it to believe it."
Retrospectives of Ellsworth Kelly's art has been held at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1996), which traveled to Los Angeles, London and Munich, Steddijk Museum (Amsterdam) (1979), the Whitney Museum of American Art (1982), and Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and museums around the world.
Ellsworth Kelly's work is included in collections held by Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Tate Modern (London), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), the new Broad Museum, the Parrish Art Museum (Water Mill, N.Y.) and others. In 2013, Kelly was awarded the National Media of Arts by President Obama.
In recent years, Kelly's work has been the subject of solo shows at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Morgan Library & Museum, Mark Matthews Gallery, Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl, Mnuchin Gallery, all in New York City; the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia); the Phillips Collection and the National Gallery of art, both in Washington, D.C; the Los Angeles County Art of Museum and others.
Kelly was born May 31, 1923, in Newburgh, N.Y. His father, Allan Howe Kelly, worked for the U.S. Army, and his mother, Florence Githens Kelly, had been a teacher, according to the LA Times. Ellsworth Kelly studied art at Pratt Institute (1941-42) and the Boston Museum School (1946-48). Kelly served in the army and returned to Paris after World War II, where he lived from 1948 to 1954, before returning to the United States, moving to New York City. In the sixties, Kelly spent time in The Hamptons and was an important part of the community, according to The Parrish Art Museum. Ellsworth Kelly moved to Spencertown in Upstate New York in the seventies, where he remained until his death.
Kelly is survived by his husband, Jack Shear, and a brother, David.
Click here to see a slideshow of paintings by Ellsworth Kelly.
RELATED: "Ellsworth Kelly, Who Shaped Geometries on a Bold Scale, Dies at 92" by Holland Cotter for The New York Times.
"Ellsworth Kelly dies at 92; artist was master of geometric abstraction" by Suzanne Muchnic for Los Angeles Times.
"Ellsworth Kelly obituary" published by The Guardian.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated on 12/29/15 to add Ellsworth Kelly's connection to the East End and to note his art is also held in the collection of the Parrish Art Museum.
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