Compiled by Tricia Y. Paik (with assistance from Eva Huber Walters and Nathan Stobaugh)
Ellsworth Maurice Kelly born on May 31 in Newburgh, NY, to Allan Howe Kelly, who works for the United States Army at West Point, NY, and Florence Githens Kelly, a former school teacher, both from Wheeling, WV.
Named after paternal grandfather, Maurice Balmer Kelly, and maternal grandfather, Curran Ellsworth Githens, Ph.D., a professor, mathematician, and educator who served as superintendent of Wheeling public schools around 1900.
Aged six months, moves with parents and older brother Allan, Jr., born 1921, to Pittsburgh, PA. Younger brother David is born there in 1926.
While sick at the age of five, introduced by mother and paternal grandmother Louisa (Rosenlieb) Kelly to bird-watching, a practice that becomes a lifelong hobby.
Family moves in 1929 to Oradell, NJ, located approximately 17 miles northwest of New York City, where father works as insurance- company executive. During these years, family moves frequently in and around region of Oradell where Kelly develops bird-watching skills.
At around seven or eight, encounters works of artist and ornithologist John James Audubon at local library. Learns of other bird illustrations by ornithologist Louis Agassiz Fuertes.
Follows sixth-grade teacher Dorothy Opsut’s encouraging advice to paint outdoors. Sculpts sphinx figure out of clay and paints watercolors. Attends Oradell Junior High School.
Designs covers for his school journal Chirp, one featuring daffodils, and listed as “Best Artist” and “Class Giant” in 1938 yearbook.
Cover of Chirp
(Oradell Junior High School journal), 1938
Spends summer of 1938 painting on Cape Cod, MA.
Begins Dwight Morrow High School, Englewood, NJ, in fall 1938. Impressed after seeing his first oil painting, art teacher Evelyn Robbins nurtures his talent.
Ellsworth Kelly drawing caricatures and
portraits, Dwight Morrow High School,
Englewood, NJ, 1941
His parents are less enthusiastic about his artistic inclinations, though his mother gives him a copy of 1939 book, World- Famous Paintings, edited by Rockwell Kent.
Participates in high school theater club, the Mask and Wig, led by drama teacher Helen Travolta. His parents agree to financially support his arts education as long as he receives commercial training.
Visits The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Graduates high school.
Moves to Brooklyn, on Gainsborough Street, to attend Pratt Institute where he studies applied arts with Maitland E. Graves.
Completes three semesters as World War II cuts short his schooling.
Volunteers for service, requesting assignment to 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion.
Inducted into United States Army at Fort Dix, NJ, on New Year’s Day. Sent to Camp Hale, CO, in late January, where he trains with mountain-ski troops.
Transferred in March to 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion at Fort Meade, MD, allowing him to regularly visit the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Meets future fashion designer Bill Blass, a fellow G.I. also assigned to the 603rd.
Executes silkscreen posters, designed by Colonel Homer Saint-Gaudens (son of renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens), used to instruct troops in concealment techniques.
In January, his battalion is relocated to Camp Forrest, TN, where it joins the newly formed 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known today as the “Ghost Army.”
Makes drawings and watercolors in sketchbooks throughout tour of duty, which takes Kelly to England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.
Ellsworth Kelly, Luxembourg, 1944
Briey, France, 1945, gouache on paper,
7 ⅞ × 9 ⅞ in, 20 × 25.1 cm
Participates in Allied invasion of Normandy in operation known as “D + 10,” ten days after D-Day.
Visits Paris for first time, while stationed in nearby Saint-Germain-en-Laye, though museums are closed due to the war.
His battalion returns to America in May. Discharged with honor on October 23 in Jacksonville, FL.
Unsuccessfully attempts to hitchhike to Black Mountain College, Asheville, NC; decides instead to board a freight plane for New York City, his first time on a plane.
In January 1946, enrolls at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with tuition and stipend provided via the G.I. Bill of Rights.
Obtains studio and room rent-free in exchange for teaching two evenings a week at the Norfolk House Center, a settlement house in Roxbury, Boston.
Ellsworth Kelly sketching,
Norfolk House Center, Boston, 1947
At school, draws and paints from female nude in life classes.
Studies with Karl Zerbe, a practitioner of German Expressionism, and Ture Bengtz, who teaches Kelly valuable lessons in contour drawing.
Copies Old Master paintings by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Tintoretto on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which he regularly visits. There, encounters twelfth-century frescoes from the Catalan Church of Santa Maria del Mur, sparking an appreciation for Romanesque art and architecture. Also develops interest in Byzantine art.
Attends a lecture given by Philip Guston on Piero della Francesca.
Spends time at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as well as museums at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA: the Fogg Museum, the Germanic Museum (now the Busch-Reisinger Museum), and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography where he first sees ancient Native American artifacts. In 1954, will begin to collect carved stone lithics, such as bannerstones and birdstones produced by ancient Mississippian mound-building cultures.
Makes occasional trips to New York to visit The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (renamed The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1952).
Enters Self-Portrait with Bugle in exhibition at Institute of Modern Art, Boston (which will be renamed the Institute of Contemporary Art the following year), and is awarded scholarship from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, allowing him to spend summer of 1947 painting in Maine, in studio provided by the school.
Featured in first gallery exhibition, a group show with figurative painting, Boy in a Tub (1947), at Boris Mirski Art Gallery, Boston, where he will show again in 1948 and 1950.
Becomes friends with Ralph Coburn, an artist who works at Boris Mirski.
During spring, attends memorable lectures by two visitors: Max Beckmann, who emphasizes the importance of observing nature, and Herbert Read, British art historian and critic, who declares “easel painting” outdated and calls for collaboration between art and architecture.
Graduates with highest honors from the Boston Museum School (as it was then known) on June 4.
Decides, along with fellow student Onni Saari, to return to Paris and works that summer as a gandy dancer installing wooden railroad ties, earning $200 to pay for ship fare.
Starts journal, keeping meticulously categorized lists, detailing museums, artworks, sites, and collections he wishes to see in Europe.
Arrives in Paris in October. Travels to Colmar, France, to see Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece (1512–16), the subject of a research assignment he had done in Boston.
After a stay at the Hôtel Saint-George, rue Bonaparte, moves to a couple of other Left Bank hotels until spring 1949.
Enrolls in November at the École des Beaux-Arts in order to qualify for tuition and increased stipend of $75 per month provided by the G.I. Bill of Rights.
Becomes friends with Jack Youngerman, one of many other Americans also enrolled at the École on the G.I. Bill. Rarely attends classes, however, and instead regularly visits the Musée de Louvre, the Musée de Cluny (now the Musée national du Moyen Âge), the Musée Guimet, the Musée Cernuschi, as well as the library of the Byzantine Institute, an extension of Harvard University.
Develops his interests in Romanesque and Byzantine art, plus the art of Egypt, Greece, and other ancient cultures, while also becoming increasingly fascinated with the architecture of Paris.
Self-Portrait with Thorn, 1947,
oil on Masonite,
36 × 24 × 11⁄2in, 91.4 × 60.9 × 3.8cm
In his paintings, begins to display a move towards abstraction.
Begins making drawings from plants, a practice that will continue throughout his life.
Also visits the Musée de l’Homme, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne.
During his years in France, regularly borrows books from the American Library in Paris, often favoring Russian writers, such as Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Nabokov, as well as French author Stendhal.
Travels to Poitiers, Chauvigny, Saint- Savin-sur-Gartempe, Tavant, Chinon, and Mont-Saint-Michel and draws from frescoes, stonework, and sculptures.
Submits paintings to exhibition at the American Center, but is rejected.
Moves to Hôtel de Bourgogne on Île Saint-Louis, where he stays for almost three years.
Ellsworth Kelly, Hôtel de Bourgogne studio,
Makes his first collage, Seaweed/Mandorla (1949) and will continue to rely on collage to explore ideas for painting and sculpture throughout his career.
Coburn arrives from Boston, and together they experiment with Surrealist and chance techniques.
In June, meets John Cage and Merce Cunningham, who happen to be staying at same hotel; Cage visits Kelly’s studio and provides encouragement. After their departure, begins correspondence with Cage that lasts during Kelly’s time in France.
Travels with Coburn in July to Brittany, meeting French actress Arletty; decides to spend summer on Belle-Île-en-Mer. With Coburn, calls upon Alice B. Toklas in Paris to see the collection of her late partner, Gertrude Stein.
Sees exhibitions on Matisse, Kandinsky, and Gauguin.
Returns to Belle-Île-en-Mer where he makes his first shaped work out of wood, Wood Cutout with String I.
After sketching several drawings based on large windows observed at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, creates Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, using two joined panels for first time.
In December, visits Coburn in Mediterranean town of Sanary; together they travel to Antibes to visit the Musée Picasso.
Meets French critic Michel Seuphor and early supporter of Mondrian.
Exhibits for first time in Europe at “Premier Salon des Jeunes Peintres,” Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, with Wood Cutout with String III, (1949).
After being introduced to Jean (Hans) Arp through Seuphor, travels with Coburn and Youngerman in February to Arp’s studio outside of Paris in Meudon-Val-Fleury, where he is impressed by the collages of Arp and the late Sophie Taueber-Arp.
Ellsworth Kelly (right) and Ralph Coburn,
Belle-Île-en-Mer, France, 1949
Sees Matisse’s large-scale cutout Zulma (1950) at Salon de Mai, Paris.
Meets Georges Vantongerloo, Alberto Magnelli, Francis Picabia, and Alexander Calder.
Invited by Félix Del Marle, secretary general of the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, to show at their fifth Salon in Paris, where Kelly displays six works, including Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris and Relief with Blue, their public debut; White Relief is rejected based on consensus that it is not art.
Visits Arp again with Coburn.
In August, stays at La Combe, the villa of Youngerman’s in-laws in town of Meschers; earlier that year Youngerman had married french actress Delphine Seyrig, and her father Henri Seyrig, an archaeologist, will make the first purchase of a Kelly work, Antibes (1950) (EK 21), in 1951—the only sale Kelly will make in France.
At La Combe, draws shadows of a metal staircase; the motif becomes basis for series of four works, including La Combe I and La Combe II , a folding screen and his first work using several joined panels.
By fall, support from GI Bill runs out, and he begins teaching art classes to children at the American School. In December, is invited by Denise René to present his work to her gallery’s artists for consideration, but is refused, despite René’s support.
Introduced by Eduardo Paolozzi to Louis Clayeux, the director of Galerie Maeght, Paris.
With Youngerman and new friend George Koskas, convinces bookstore owners John Koenig and Jean-Robert Arnaud to turn the cellar of their shop into a gallery for young artists as very few Parisian galleries are showing emerging artists.
At the newly named Galerie Arnaud, the first exhibition features Youngerman, the second in April, is Kelly’s first solo show, with thirty works made since June 1949, including Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, Gate-Board, Window V, White Relief, Relief with Blue, La Combe I, Ormesson, and La Combe II.
Shows again at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles with six works, such as Ormesson and La Combe II.
His position at the American School is terminated after the director sees his show at the Galerie Arnaud. Hired as night security guard under auspices of the Marshall Plan, allowing him to paint during the day.
Seeks grant support by writing to Hilla Rebay, director of the Non-Objective Museum of Art, New York (which will be renamed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum the following year). In desperate need of money, later in the year, applies for a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship proposing a book project titled Line Form Color. In April of the following year, learns he is rejected.
For its seventy-fifth anniversary, the Boston Museum School mounts exhibition of former students, so Kelly ships La Combe III (1951) to Boston; the only abstract work in the show, the painting is sent to Cage in New York when exhibition closes and remains there until Kelly returns to the States in 1954.
Ellsworth Kelly with reliefs, Paris, 1950
With Youngerman and new friend Alain Naudé, visits Paris studio of Brancusi, forming a lasting impression.
Included in group exhibition, “Tendance,” at Galerie Maeght, Paris, displaying five works, such as Cité and Meschers; the latter is admired by Braque, as well as by Gustav Zumsteg, a Swiss textile manufacturer and art collector, who commissions Kelly to create fabric designs, allowing him to give up his security guard job. Also through Galerie Maeght, meets Miró.
Returns in November to Sanary, spending time with Coburn, Anne Weber, a classmate from the Boston Museum School, and Naudé.
Makes Colors for a Large Wall, his largest work to date made of sixty-four joined panels each painted a monochrome color.
Meets François Morellet, who is included in same group show as Kelly at a gallery in Nantes. Remains in Sanary until May and makes Red Yellow Blue White and Painting for a White Wall; the former is made with dyed cotton and marks the first time Kelly separates his panels across the wall, incorporating interstitial spaces in his work for the first time. With leftover fabric, designs a dress for Anne Weber.
Installation view of “Kelly peintures et reliefs,”
Galerie Arnaud, Paris, 1951
Travels to Marseilles to see Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation, still under construction at the time. Moves to Torcy, a village east of Paris.
Writes to Jean-Pierre Hoschedé, Monet’s stepson, who invites him to visit Giverny where he and Naudé see Monet’s late Nymphéas paintings haphazardly stored. Inspired by this visit, paints next day at his Torcy studio Tableau Vert, his first single-canvas monochrome, which he wraps up because he thinks it unsuccessful; will not return to a single-canvas monochrome until 1966 with Yellow Piece, also his first shaped “cutout” made from canvas.
Featured in two group exhibitions, one in Caracas, and the other at Galerie Maeght, Paris, “Tendance,” where he shows four works, including Colors for a Large Wall, Méditerranée, and Fête à Torcy, and where he meets Alberto Giacometti, later visiting the sculptor’s studio. Moves into a studio at Cité des Fleurs.
Attends premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris, in January.
Shown in group exhibition in Spain at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santander.
At his Cité des Fleurs studio, creates Train Landscape and Spectrum I; White Square, and Black Square, made with assistance of an ébeniste, are Kelly’s last paintings completed in Paris.
Poster for “Tendance” exhibition,
Galerie Maeght, Paris, 1951
Hoping for a mural commission, meets Marcel Breuer who is directing the building project of the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Evicted from studio at Cité des Fleurs; puts works in storage.
Spends Christmas in Papendrecht, near Rotterdam, at parents’ home of friend Geert-Jan Visser. With Visser, sees works by Mondrian owned by collector Solomon Slijper and at the Museum Boymans, Rotterdam.
Hospitalized in Paris for jaundice early in the year and convalesces at Visser home in Papendrecht.
Goes back to Paris with idea of returning to the US.
At Brentano’s bookstore, reads ARTnews review of Ad Reinhardt exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, and realizes his work might be better received there.
In mid-June, boards the Queen Mary, shipping all his work home on credit, and arrives in New York City on June 22. As suggested by Fred Mitchell, an artist friend from Paris, moves into studio at 109 Broad Street, Lower Manhattan.
Visits Robert Rauschenberg’s studio based on Cage’s recommendation.
Supports himself with night job sorting mail at main New York City branch of the US Post Office.
Makes his first New York painting, Black Curves, inspired by curvilinear forms,
Ellsworth Kelly, Broad Street studio,
New York, 1956
his so-called “free curves”; new interest in painting figure-ground relationships marks departure from rectilinear panels made in France and will continue over next decade.
Calder pays Kelly visit in late summer. Struggling to pay his rent by December, receives letter from Calder with check to cover one month’s rent; in letter Calder explains he has written on Kelly’s behalf to Alfred H. Barr, Jr., founding director of the MoMA, and James Johnson Sweeney, director of the Guggenheim Museum. Sweeney visits Kelly.
Curator Dorothy C. Miller from MoMA visits Kelly’s studio and borrows Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris; she advises the museum to acquire it, but her suggestion is unsuccessful.
Kelly visits all the major museums in New York. Also visits the New York Historical Society where he discovers watercolor drawings by Audubon made for his Birds of America engravings; learns that Audubon used collage technique and encourages librarians to exhibit the drawings, which had never been on public view.
David Herbert, an art dealer who works for Sidney Janis, visits Kelly’s Broad Street studio, then encourages Betty Parsons to do the same. Soon afterwards, Kelly is offered a solo exhibition by Parsons.
Creates White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection, a shaped work cut from wood, based on a collage made in Paris four years earlier.
John James Audubon, Roseate Tern,
1827-32 (plate 297 from The Original Water-Color
Paintings by John James Audubon for The Birds of America)
Visits Ad Reinhardt’s studio, after seeing his solo show at Parsons; later that evening, through Reinhardt, meets Adolph Gottlieb and Theodore Stamos.
Meets Ray Johnson, whose studio is located at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Invited to show at his first group exhibition in New York, “Recent Drawings USA,” curated by William Lieberman, at MoMA where he shows an ink study for Black Ripe.
Kelly’s first solo exhibition in the US opens in May at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, where he will show until 1963.
At art supply store on West 57th Street, meets Robert Indiana who is looking for a new studio. Planning to move to Coenties Slip himself, recommends the Slip to Indiana, who then relocates to Fred Mitchell’s former studio.
In July, moves a few blocks away from previous studio to a large loft at 3–5 Coenties Slip for $45 a month, where he will remain for the next seven years.
Through lighting designer Richard Kelly (no relation), is invited to create brass screens for restaurant of the new Transportation Building for Penn Center in Philadelphia, designed by Vincent G. Kling, and then later commissioned to create a large-scale aluminum sculpture spanning sixty-five feet across for the building’s lobby, now known as Sculpture for a Large Wall; collaborates with fabricator Edison Price, New York, who will help him execute sculptures through 1966. The Philadelphia commissions, his first works in metal, are completed in early 1957.
Poster for “Ellsworth Kelly, Paintings 1951-1956,”
Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1956
Makes Painting in Five Panels, his first using separately hung canvases of varying sizes. Meets Cy Twombly in Indiana’s studio.
“Young America 1957,” Kelly’s second group museum exhibition, opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, where he shows Bar, Atlantic, and Painting in Three Panels.
The Whitney purchases Atlantic, marking the first museum acquisition of the artist’s work.
Featured in “Objects on the Landscape Demanding of the Eye,” inaugural exhibition of Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, co-founded by Walter Hopps and Edward Kienholz.
Commissioned to create a lobby mural at Eastmore House, an apartment building at East 76th Street and 2nd Avenue in New York.
Opens second solo exhibition at Betty Parsons in September.
Agnes Martin and Lenore Tawney move to Coenties Slip. Youngerman, Seyrig, and their son Duncan leave France and settle in Coenties Slip.
Included in group exhibition, organized by the American Federation of the Arts for the American Pavilion, World’s Fair, Brussels.
Ellsworth Kelly, Coenties Slip studio roof,
New York, 1957
Exhibits at first solo show presented by Galerie Maeght, Paris; October issue of gallery’s Derrière le Miroir is published as exhibition catalogue, with essay by critic and curator E.C. Goossen. Lawrence Alloway, director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, sees this show and advises English collector E.J. Power to acquire Kelly’s work; Power purchases eight paintings and later, in 1962, gives Broadway to the Tate Gallery, London.
Exhibits for first time at the Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture (renamed the Carnegie International in 1970), Carnegie Institute, which acquires Aubade (1957), Kelly’s second museum sale.
Begins a series of wood reliefs, such as Concorde Relief I.
Designs costumes and a stage curtain for Tablet, an avant-garde ballet choreographed by Paul Taylor, all later used in 1960 at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, where Taylor will stage this performance with dancers Pina Bausch and Dan Wagoner.
Invited by Dorothy C. Miller to show in “Sixteen Americans” at MoMA, where Kelly displays Rebound and five other works, including Running White (1959), which the museum acquires in 1960.
Meets Jasper Johns and Frank Stella, who are also featured in “Sixteen Americans,” along with Youngerman and Rauschenberg (whom Kelly had met in 1954).
Ellsworth Kelly with Agnes Martin,
Coenties Slip studio, New York, 1958
Meets curator Henry Geldzahler.
Makes his first freestanding sculptures, Gate and Pony, as well as his first painted metal relief, Black Venus; exhibits them at his third show at Parsons in October.
Featured for first time at the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting (renamed the Biennial Exhibition in 1973) at the Whitney.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, becomes third museum to acquire a Kelly work, New York (1957).
Featured in group exhibition at Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Spends summer in Springs, East Hampton, New York, where he meets James Rosenquist, who soon moves to Coenties Slip.
Exhibits for second time at the Whitney Annual Exhibition and shows there regularly through 1970.
Travels to Puerto Rico at Christmas, his first trip to the Caribbean.
Spends summer at Springs.
Shown at “VI Bienal: Estados Unidos 1961” at Museo de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, organized by the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art.
Ellsworth Kelly’s Coenties Slip studio,
New York, 1958 (Jack youngerman, Duncan Youngerman, Agnes Martin,
Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Delphine Seyrig)
Receives Fourth Painting Prize at his second outing at the Pittsburgh International, Carnegie Institute, where he meets dealer Robert Fraser.
Train Landscape is included in “Art Abstrait Constructif International,” Galerie Denise René, Paris, with catalogue essay by critic Michel Seuphor.
Awarded the Flora Mayer Witkowsky Prize by the Art Institute of Chicago at its “65th American Exhibition: Some Directions in Contemporary Painting and Sculpture.”
Presented at group exhibition at World’s Fair, Seattle.
Solo exhibition opens in May at Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd, London, with catalogue essay by Alloway.
While in London, meets Francis Bacon with Patrick Kinross (Lord Kinross), with whom Kelly had become friends several years earlier when Kinross was visiting New York and writing a travel book about the US, The Innocents at Home, published in 1959; Kelly is mentioned in the chapter on New York.
Included in major international touring exhibition, “Art: USA: Now,” curated by Lee Nordness and organized by the United States Information Agency (USIA), a diplomatic agency established in 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to promote national interests abroad.
Ellsworth Kelly (right) with Alexander Calder and Delphine Seyrig,
Roxbury, CT, 1958
Presented at the 28th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Invited to show in group exhibition at Green Gallery, New York, by director Richard Bellamy, with artists such as Robert Morris, Larry Poons (who by 1962 lives in Coenties Slip), Kenneth Noland, and Stella.
Receives the Education Minister’s Award at the Seventh International Art Exhibition of Japan, Metropolitan Art Gallery, Tokyo, as well as Brandeis Creative Arts Award from Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; subsequently, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis acquires Blue White (1962).
The Art Institute of Chicago acquires its first Kelly painting, Black and White.
The Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, DC, hosts Kelly’s first solo museum exhibition, “Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings by Ellsworth Kelly,” with catalogue featuring artist interview with Henry Geldzahler; show travels to the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, in early 1964.
Moves to studio at Hôtel des Artistes on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, taking his dog, Orange, who once belonged to Youngerman.
The Metropolitan Museum acquires its first Kelly painting, Blue Green Red (1963).
Ellsworth Kelly, Springs, East Hampton,
Shown in group exhibition at Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, now under directorship of Irving Blum.
Invited by critic Clement Greenberg to participate in his exhibition, “Post-Painterly Abstraction,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Kelly presents three works, including Blue over Blue.
His large-scale outdoor commission from Philip Johnson, Two Curves: Blue Red, debuts in April at the Johnson-designed New York State Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, Queens, New York, along with other commissioned works by John Chamberlain, Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg; after close of fair, donates work to Harvard University.
Cleveland Museum of Art acquires Red Blue (1962).
Exhibits Black Ripe and Red Blue Green at Documenta III, Kassel, curated by Arnold Bode and Werner Haftmann, his first time there.
Receives Painting Prize during his third appearance at the Pittsburgh International, where he will show again in 1967.
Sails for Paris, spending last three months there, where Galerie Maeght presents its second solo exhibition of his work. November issue of their Derrière le Miroir is published as exhibition catalogue with essay by Dale McConathy, who used to work for Betty Parsons.
Begins to work on Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs, 1964–65, and Suite of Plant Lithographs (1964–66), with Maeght Éditeur, Paris.
Installation view of “Ellsworth Kelly,”
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, 1962
While in south of France, meets Chagall; visits Matisse’s Chapelle Rosarie des Dominicaines de Vence, St Paul de Vence in December.
Included in “The Responsive Eye,” curated by William Seitz, MoMA.
Has first solo exhibition in March at Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, where he will show again a year later, after which it is renamed Irving Blum Gallery.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, presents its first solo exhibition of the artist in April; Kelly will continue to show there until 1971.
Travels to Paris in May and exhibits Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs (1964–65) at Galerie Maeght, Paris. That summer, visits Belle-Île, Brittany, Dordogne, Normandy, Provence, and St Paul de Vence.
Travels to Switzerland for group show at Kunsthalle, Basel, then travels extensively through Italy, visiting Assisi, Florence, Orvieto, Pompeii, Rome, and Siena.
Makes his first of two “wall/floor” pieces, Red Blue Green Yellow .
After painting figure-ground compositions for past decade, returns to thorough exploration of multipanel paintings over next several years, with Red Yellow Blue II , a three-part work separated against the wall, which he shows in a group exhibition at Sidney Janis
Poster for Vivian Beaumont Theater,
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts,
New York, 1965
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) acquires its first Kelly painting, Red White (1962).
With Blue Disc (1963), he is featured in “Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculptors,” curated by Kynaston McShine, the Jewish Museum, New York.
Represents the US at the 33rd Venice Biennale, along with Helen Frankenthaler, Lichtenstein, and Jules Olitski, in the exhibition curated by Geldzahler; exhibits seven works including Blue Red, his second “wall/floor” piece, Yellow Piece, his first shaped work using a single monochrome canvas, and White Angle (1966), his first of two “angle” sculptures.
After attending the opening in Venice, travels with Geldzahler to Ravenna, viewing mosaics at Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Basilica of San Vitale, and nearby Basilica Sant’Apollinaire in Classe. Travels to Padua to see Giotto’s frescoes at Arena Chapel. Also, travels to England and visits Stonehenge.
The Walker Art Center acquires its first Kelly, Red Green Blue (1964).
Blue Green Yellow Orange Red is shown at “Systemic Painting,” curated by Alloway, at the Guggenheim Museum, which acquires the work in 1967, its first Kelly purchase.
Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly works,
U.S. Pavillion, 33rd Venice Biennale, 1966
Henry Persche becomes Kelly’s studio assistant.
Saint Louis Art Museum purchases Spectrum II (1966–67).
Exhibits in “American Sculpture of the Sixties,” curated by Maurice Tuchman, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with Gate.
Kelly’s commission, White over Blue, his tallest work to date at 28 ½ feet high, is featured in the United States Pavilion, the geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller, at Expo 67, Montreal.
The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, becomes the first European museum to acquire a work by Kelly, Blue Green Red I (1964–65), and later in the year, it acquires the first Kelly sculpture in a European museum collection, Blue Red Rocker.
He is given his first solo exhibition at Irving Blum Gallery, Los Angeles, where he will show until 1973.
Travels to Amsterdam, Zurich, and Paris; while in Paris, takes retrospective tour of city with his camera, documenting views that inspired works such as Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, Ormesson, and White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection .
Visits Miró in Majorca.
Poster for “The Art of the Real: USA 1948-1968”,
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1968
The Whitney purchases Whites (1963), his first sculpture to be acquired by an American museum.
Exhibits six works, such as Blue Red, at Documenta IV, Kassel.
Goossen presents Kelly in international traveling exhibition that opens at MoMA, “The Art of the Real: USA, 1948–1968,” with six works including Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, Colors for a Large Wall, Painting for a White Wall, and White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection.
Meets Diane Waldman, who visits Kelly at his studio.
Spends summer and the next one in Bridgehampton, NY; while there becomes friends with Lichtenstein and meets critic Elizabeth C. Baker.
Designs costumes again for Taylor, a dance performance called Lento, creating ten leotards of fragmented color inspired by his Spectrums.
Begins making uniquely shaped joined-panel paintings.
Starts creating sculptures with Don Lippincott of Lippincott, Inc., New Haven, Connecticut, with whom he will continue working until 1993; one of these first sculptures made with Lippincott, Green Blue, an outdoor work, is purchased by MoMA, their first Kelly sculpture acquisition.
Ellsworth Kelly, Cady’s Hall studio,
Chatham, NY, 1973
Makes Yellow Blue, a sculpture commission for Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York.
Shown at “Serial Imagery,” curated by John Coplans, Pasadena Art Museum (renamed the Norton Simon Museum in 1975).
Travels to Paris for Grand Palais installation of “The Art of the Real.”
Travels to Switzerland for opening of “The Art of the Real” at Kunsthaus Zurich where fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga compliments Kelly on Colors for a Large Wall .
Begins making paintings based on his so-called “radial curves,” for example, Blue Curve I , curves fragmented from large circles, an idea to which he returns in 1972, and expands further in multiple variations in painting, reliefs, sculpture in ensuing years.
Receives commission for large-scale painting, Blue Green for the UNESCO building, Paris.
Invited by Geldzahler to exhibit in his major survey, “New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970,” which colonizes thirty-five galleries at the Metropolitan Museum; Geldzahler provides Kelly with two galleries, one for seven paintings and five sculptures, such as Relief with Blue, Red Yellow Blue I, White Ring, Green Rocker, as well as Spectrum V , which Kelly makes that summer especially for exhibition; the second gallery displays thirty of his plant drawings for the first time.
William Rubin, recently named chief curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA, begins conversations with Kelly about a midcareer retrospective, which will be held at the museum in 1973.
Cover of The New York Times Magazine
(Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Warhol, Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning),
October, 12, 1969
The Walker purchases its first Kelly sculpture, Green Rocker (1968).
He donates his first painting to a museum, Colors for a Large Wall (1951) to MoMA, also the first work from his French years to enter a museum collection. Later that year, Kelly gifts Spectrum V (pl. EK 422) to the Met.
In March, moves upstate to Spencertown, NY, where he buys and renovates an old farmhouse. In nearby town of Chatham, locates and rents a large space in an old theater, Cady’s Hall, and transforms it into a studio.
Travels for first time to Saint Martin in the Caribbean, which he will revisit frequently.
Begins first print project with Sidney Felsen, Stanley Grinstein, and Kenneth Tyler of Gemini GEL, Los Angeles (Tyler will leave Gemini in 1973), and is featured for first time in solo exhibition there in September, with catalogue essay by Coplans; will continue to produce prints with Gemini GEL and show there to this day.
Red Yellow Blue II and three other works are displayed in group exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, “Ellsworth Kelly, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella.”
Meets George Rickey, who lives nearby in East Chatham.
Installation view of “The Chatham Series: Paintings by Ellsworth Kelly,”
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, 1972
Coplans and Waldman publish, respectively, the first monographs on Kelly, Ellsworth Kelly and Ellsworth Kelly: Drawings, Collages, Prints.
Spectrum V and a selection of drawings are shown in “The Structure of Color,” curated by Marcia Tucker, at the Whitney.
Has solo exhibition at Dayton’s Gallery 12, Minneapolis in May.
Galerie Denise René-Hans Meyer, Düsseldorf, mounts solo exhibition of Kelly paintings in July.
Featured in solo exhibition of the fourteen paintings from his Chatham Series, including Chatham X: Black Red, at Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.
Begins making large outdoor sculptures, exploring use of weathering steel, of which Curve I, installed flush on the ground, is the first. Stele I is his first freestanding outdoor sculpture made of weathering steel.
Featured in the Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney.
Presents first solo show, “Ellsworth Kelly: Curved Series,” at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, where he will continue to exhibit until 1992.
Henry Geldzahler, 1983,
graphite on paper, 30 × 22 inches, 76.2 × 55.8 cm
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art purchases Blue Curve III, its first Kelly work.
He begins exhibiting with Ronald Greenberg at Greenberg Gallery, St Louis, where he will continue to show until 1993 (including a 1996 solo exhibition at newly named Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, St Louis).
MoMA presents Kelly’s mid-career retrospective, “Ellsworth Kelly,” curated by Goossen, which travels to the Pasadena Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters (now the American Academy of Arts and Letters).
Begins ongoing series of totem sculptures, created in weathering steel and aluminum.
Chosen as first artist to inaugurate Wadsworth Atheneum’s “Matrix” series of solo exhibitions in Hartford, Connecticut, with 1959 drawings of corn stalks he grew on his roof while living in Coenties Slip.
On his way to California to make prints with Gemini GEL in spring, travels to Colorado. Drives to the Rocky Mountains and then to Pike’s Peak (the discoverer of the famed summit, Zebulon Pike, is his distant ancestor); continues to the Meteor Crater in Arizona, then to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Mohave Desert, and Death Valley.
Installation view of “Ellsworth Kelly,”
The Museum of Modern Art,
New York, 1973
First solo show held at BlumHelman Gallery, New York, where he will show until 1993.
Included in two traveling exhibitions devoted to drawing, “Twentieth Century American Drawing: Three Avant-Garde Generations,” curated by Waldman at the Guggenheim; “Drawing Now,” curated by Bernice Rose, at MoMA.
Completes colored cotton pulp print series, Colored Paper Images, with Tyler at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Bedford Village, New York.
Focuses on making black and white paintings. Begins ongoing practice of making uniquely shaped paintings out of monochrome single canvases.
Travels to Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland.
Presented in “Exposition Paris-New York,” at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, with Colors for a Large Wall.
Meets curator Alfred Pacquement.
Exhibits selection of drawings at Documenta VI, Kassel.
Meets curator Emily Rauh Pulitzer.
Travels to Barcelona to view Antoni Gaudí’s architecture.
Ellsworth Kelly with Alfred Pacquement
at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1979
Installs Color Panels for a Large Wall, a commission from the Central Trust Company, Cincinnati.
Begins to fabricate sculpture with Peter Carlson Enterprises, Sun Valley, California.
Fibes and Schmitt of Schenectady begin construction on his new studio adjacent to his Spencertown home, replicating his Chatham studio proportions at Cady’s Hall. Over time, will buy parcels of land adding to his Spencertown property.
“Colored Paper Images,” solo exhibition of prints curated by Riva Castleman, opens at MoMA.
Méditerranée is shown in “Grids: Format and Image in 20th Century Art” at Pace Gallery, New York, with catalogue essay by Rosalind Krauss.
Presented at the Biennial Exhibition, the Whitney, and again in 1981.
Featured, along with Johns, de Kooning, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg in the 36th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, organized by Jane Livingston, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Curated by Thomas Hess and Lowery Stokes Sims, “Ellsworth Kelly: Recent Paintings and Sculptures” opens at the Metropolitan Museum.
“Ellsworth Kelly: Paintings and Sculptures, 1963–1979,” his first major museum exhibition in Europe originates at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, traveling to the Hayward Gallery, London; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Pompidou, Paris; Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden.
Catalogue for “Ellsworth Kelly: Recent Paintings and Sculptures,”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979
Made Fellow of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.
Pompidou, Paris, presents five works by Kelly: Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, White Relief, Cité, Fête à Torcy, Kite II in “Paris-Paris/Créations en France, 1937-1957.”
Completes commission, Curve XXII, measuring 36 feet high for Lincoln Park, Illinois, his tallest to date.
With Peter Carlson and Gemini GEL, makes editions of painted-metal wall sculpture series. Begins a series of totems made of wood.
Receives sculpture award from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Meets photographer Jack Shear in Los Angeles.
“Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture,” a sculpture retrospective curated by Patterson Sims and Emily Rauh Pulitzer, opens at the Whitney and travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Makes Series of Eleven Wall Panels, his first multipanel work of uniquely shaped panels separated across the wall.
Curve XXIX, measuring 20 feet tall, is installed on grounds of Farnsworth House, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Plano, Illinois.
Ellsworth Kelly with Emily Rauh Pulitzer
and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr.,1985
Elected to Hall of Fame by Dwight Morrow High School, Englewood, New Jersey.
Debuts outdoor commission, Untitled (1982–83) for reopening of Dallas Museum of Art, redesigned by Edward Larrabee Barnes.
La Combe II is featured in “The Folding Image: Screens by Western Artists of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
A room containing seven paintings by Kelly opens at the National Gallery of Art.
Meets professor and curator Richard H. Axsom, who will author the catalogue raisonné of Kelly prints in 1987, with revised and expanded edition in 2012.
Included in ROSC ’84, Art Council, Dublin. Travels to Berlin, Dublin, London, and Paris.
Commissioned by city of Barcelona to create two large-scale totems, completed in 1987; one measuring 49 feet high remains Kelly’s tallest sculpture to this day.
Presented in traveling exhibition, “Contrasts of Form: Geometric Abstract Art, 1910-1980,” curated by Magdalena Dabrowski, MoMA.
Participates in Carnegie International, Carnegie Institute.
The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut, mounts “A Second Talent: Painters and Sculptors Who Are Also Photographers,” where Kelly shows his photographs for first time.
“The Window in Twentieth-Century Art,” curated by Suzanne Delehanty, Neuberger Museum, at State University of New York at Purchase, features Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris and two other Kelly works, and travels to Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Traveling exhibition curated by Maurice Tuchman, “The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890–1985,” opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, featuring three Kelly works including White Square.
A gallery installation of eight paintings by Kelly is featured in the inaugural exhibition of the new California Plaza building for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Creates Red Curve for the Raffles City Hotel, designed by I.M. Pei, in Singapore.
Completes commission Houston Triptych, for the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Begins to design a chapel for a California ranch, developing proposed concept through an intricate model, but project not built for this property.
Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Shear, 1988
Pompidou acquires Kite II, the first time a museum purchases a work from Kelly’s French years.
Awarded Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic.
“Ellsworth Kelly: Works on Paper,” a national traveling retrospective curated by Diane Upright, opens at Fort Worth Art Museum.
Organized by the American Federation of the Arts, “Ellsworth Kelly: A Print Retrospective” originates at the Detroit Institute of Arts and travels to many venues nationally, with corresponding publication by Axsom, The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly: A Catalogue Raisonné 1949–1985.
“Ellsworth Kelly: Seven Paintings (1952–55/1987),” curated by Trevor Fairbrother, is presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Meets professor and art historian Roberta Bernstein, with whom he will regularly bird-watch in upstate New York.
List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, mounts Ellsworth Kelly: “Small Sculpture, 1958–87.”
Meets curator Gary Garrels.
Represented in “Rot Gelb Blau: Die Primärfarben in der Kunst des 20.Jahrhunderts,” curated by Bernhard Bürgi, at Kunstmuseum, St Gallen, and then Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, with Red Green Blue II (1965).
Catalogue for “Ellsworth Kelly: Works on Paper”,
Fort Worth Art Museum, TX, 1987
Large-scale outdoor commission, Double Curve is unveiled at opening of the new Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center.
La Couleur Seule: L’Experience du Monochrome, curated by Maurice Besset, Musée St Pierre, Lyon, opens with ten Kelly paintings, including Tableau Vert (1952) and Dark Blue Panel (1985).
BlumHelman Gallery, New York, presents solo exhibition with catalogue essay by Robert Storr whom Kelly meets that year.
After focusing on single-panel shaped canvases for past several years, returns to making joined-panel paintings, usually duo-paneled.
Museum Overholland, Amsterdam, presents Kelly works on paper exhibition.
Long-term courtyard installation of six paintings premieres in the new Daniel F. & Ada Rice Building at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Completes commission for the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, designed by Pei; four fiberglass panels, each measuring 34 feet high, is Kelly’s tallest indoor commission to date.
First solo exhibition of prints at Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York, where he will continue to show to this day.
Ellsworth Kelly with Roy Lichtenstein,
Upper East Side, New York, 1990
Creates his first floor painting, Yellow Curve, measuring 25½ feet at its widest point, for solo exhibition curated by Gottfried Boehm, Portikus, Frankfurt.
Invited by Kirk Varnedoe to curate second installment of “Artist’s Choice” exhibition series begun prior year at MoMA and drawn from its collection, Artist’s Choice: Ellsworth Kelly—Fragmentation and the Single Form.
Completes commission, White Curve, Vevey for Swiss corporate headquarters of Nestlé SA.
Meets professor and art historian Yve-Alain Bois who, over the years, will write extensively on the artist, authoring in 2015 the first volume of the catalogue raisonné of Kelly’s paintings, sculptures, and reliefs.
Included in “Artists’ Sketchbooks,” inaugural exhibition of Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, on Madison Avenue.
Two Kelly works, including Orange Red Relief (for Delphine Seyrig), are shown at the Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney.
Yve-Alain Bois, 1993, ink on paper,
12 × 12 inches, 30.4 × 30.4 cm
“Ellsworth Kelly: At Right Angles, 1964–1966”, with catalogue essay by Bernstein, opens at Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, and travels to John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.
The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation is established, with goal of supporting arts conservation, nationally and internationally, as well as supporting the local community where Kelly lives; over the years, the foundation will provide grants to American museums for conservation needs, donations for both international conservation projects and local land conservancies, and support for arts programs in public schools in his county.
Promoted to rank of Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic.
“Ellsworth Kelly: The Years in France, 1948–1954,” curated by Pacquement and Jack Cowart, opens at Galerie Nationale du Jeu Paume, Paris, with catalogue essays by Bois, Cowart, Pacquement, and chronology by Nathalie Brunet; exhibition travels to Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster, where Kelly installs new large-scale work, Red Floor Panel , and ends at National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Awarded Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur by the French Republic.
Installation view of “Ellsworth Kelly: The Years in France, 1948-1954”,
Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, 1992
French journal Artstudio devotes spring issue to Kelly, with essays and artist interviews edited by Ann Hindry.
Shown at Documenta IX, Kassel, curated by Jan Hoet, where Kelly presents gallery installation of new paintings, which are subsequently featured at his first solo exhibition at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London; works are then acquired by Lenbachhaus, Munich.
Exhibits first solo show at Matthew Marks Gallery, Ellsworth Kelly: Plant Drawings, with catalogue essay by poet John Ashbery, commencing long-time representation by Marks and where Kelly shows regularly to this day.
Completes Blue Floor Panel for Leo, his first floor panel created in US for last exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
Illustrates Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard, the 1870 poem by Stéphane Mallarmé, for an artist’s book of eleven lithographs, published by the Limited Edition Club.
Presented with honorary title of Amic de Barcelona and medal by mayor of Barcelona.
Pace Gallery mounts “Coenties Slip,” curated by Mildred Glimcher, which explores specific artistic community in Lower Manhattan where Kelly lived from 1956 to 1963.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, designed by James Freed, is dedicated, featuring a commission by Kelly, Memorial.
Ellsworth Kelly with Matthew Marks,
Spencertown studio, 1991
Pratt Institute honors Kelly with Institute Medal and awards him Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.
Designed by Norman Foster, Carré d’Art, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Nîmes, is inaugurated with debut of Gaul, a 19-foot tall steel sculpture.
Exhibited in “American Art in the Twentieth Century,” curated by Norman Rosenthal and Christos M. Joachimides; it originates at Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, and travels to Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Gifts Curve X to the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, in memory of Joseph Pulitzer.
Included in traveling exhibition “The Return of the Cadavre Exquis,” curated by Ingrid Schaffner, the Drawing Center, New York.
Nick Walters become Kelly’s studio assistant.
Receives Médaille du Jubilé by the French Republic, awarded to American veterans who participated in Battle of Normandy in commemoration of 50th anniversary of D-Day.
Kelly’s solo exhibition opens in September at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London, with catalogue featuring essay by Bois and photographic essay by Shear; it travels to Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, in October, for inaugural opening of gallery on West 22nd Street, Chelsea.
“Ellsworth Kelly: The Process of Seeing,” curated by Siri Engberg, opens at the Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis.
Catalogue for “Ellsworth Kelly, Spencertown,”
Anthony d’Offay, London, and Matthew Marks Gallery,
New York, 1994
Kelly’s 1993 illustrated book for Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés is featured in “A Century of Artists Books,” curated by Castleman, MoMA.
Donates Diagonal with Curve XIV to SFMOMA , in memory of John Caldwell.
To Hell with the Birds: Looking with Ellsworth Kelly, a documentary by Pierre Aubry and Rachel Stella, is filmed.
Represented in “Abstraction in the Twentieth Century: Total Risk, Freedom, Discipline,” curated by Mark Rosenthal, at the Guggenheim, with Painting for a White Wall, Train Landscape, White Square, Black Ripe, Broadway, and Dark Blue Curve (1995).
Awarded inaugural Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts on 125th anniversary of School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Receives Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
Elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Produces large-scale commission, The Red and the Black, for Rafael Viñoly-designed Tokyo International Forum.
Completes Wright Curve, a commission for the Peter B. Lewis Theater of the Sackler Center for Arts Education at Guggenheim Museum.
Focuses on single-panel shaped paintings again, including some that are large-scale.
Installation view of “Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective,”
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1996
“Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective,” curated by Waldman, opens at the Guggenheim Museum and travels to Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Tate Gallery, London, and Haus der Kunst, Munich.
Makes gift of Orange Red Relief to the Guggenheim.
Indianapolis Museum of Art presents “Colors and Forms: Ellsworth Kelly.”
Travels to London and Munich for installation and opening of “Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective” at respectively, Tate Gallery and Haus der Kunst.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate by Royal College of Art, London.
Represented in “Drawing is another kind of language: Recent American Drawings from a New York Private Collector,” Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University, which travels to national and international venues.
Timed to his seventy-fifth birthday in May, “Ellsworth Kelly on the Roof,” curated by Nan Rosenthal, opens at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum, the inaugural exhibition featuring outdoor work by contemporary artists on its rooftop.
Sculpture for a Large Wall (1957), recently removed from original site in Philadelphia, is presented for first time in New York at Matthew Marks Gallery, along with new paintings by Kelly at second Marks gallery location; subsequently, MoMA acquires Sculpture for a Large Wall.
Poster for “Ellsworth Kelly on the Roof,”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1998
Traveling exhibition “Ellsworth Kelly: Recent Prints,” curated by Mary Drach McInnes, opens at Boston University Art Gallery.
Significant wall sculpture commission, The Boston Panels, for new United States Courthouse, Boston, designed by Henry N. Cobb, is unveiled.
Presented with New York State Governor’s Arts Award, New York State Council on the Arts, at Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York.
First exhibition exploring Kelly’s early drawings spanning 1948 to 1955, curated by Bois, opens at Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, and travels to national and international venues.
MoMA displays recent Kelly acquisitions including Meschers, Sculpture for a Large Wall, and Three Panels: Orange, Dark Gray, Green, along with selection of drawings.
For first time, four of his Spectrum paintings, including Spectrum I, are shown together at Mitchell-Innes and Nash Gallery, New York.
Honored with Edward MacDowell Medal by MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire.
Ellsworth Kelly, The Boston Panels, 1996-98,
The John J. Moakley Federal Courthouse, Boston
Awarded Archives of American Art Medal, Smithsonian Institution.
Featured in Parkett (no. 56) and produces a small lithograph, Red Curve, for its Special Edition series.
Installs commission, The Chicago Panels, a series of six panel paintings, in the Rice Building, the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Correspondences: Isamu Noguchi and Ellsworth Kelly” opens at the Phillip Morris branch of the Whitney.
White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection is displayed in “Making Choices,” the second cycle of the MoMA2000, exhibitions presented at MoMA to celebrate the millennium and co-curated by Storr.
Travels through Provence, France; visits Musée Matisse, Nice, and draws vistas of celebrated peak, Mont Sainte-Victoire.
Awarded Praemium Imperiale for Painting by Japan Arts Association and travels to Tokyo for laureate ceremony.
Visits Kyoto and other Japanese cities, touring a selection of buildings designed by Tadao Ando, including some on Naoshima, Japan’s “art island.”
Ellsworth Kelly’s studio in
Spencertown, NY, 2012
Elevated to top rank, Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic.
Appointed Honorary Royal Academician by Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Commission Blue Black, measuring 28 feet high, debuts at inaugural opening of Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St Louis, designed by Tadao Ando.
Kelly’s monumental lobby commission for the new Bundestag at Paul Löbe Haus, the German parliament building designed by Stephan Braunfels, is publicly presented.
Reinvestigates joined-panel painting, incorporating overlapping canvases, which will continue in rectilinear formats over next few years.
Completes commission for Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland, White Curves, his first outdoor sculpture offering new semi-reflective surface.
MoMA acquires original maquettes for Kelly’s 1951 proposed artist book, Line Form Color, and other drawings.
Begins major expansion of Spencertown studio with Richard Gluckman.
Black Square is shown in “Paris: Capital of the Arts, 1900–1968,” Royal Academy of Arts, London, and then the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.
Visits Paris for opening of “Henri Matisse/Ellsworth Kelly: Plant Drawings,” curated by Éric de Chassey and Rémi LaBrusse, at the Pompidou.
Catalogue for “Ellsworth Kelly: In Between,”
Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland, 2002
Participates in symposium on his art at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St Louis, coinciding with Pulitzer exhibition, “Selected Works by Ellsworth Kelly from St Louis Collections,” and the Saint Louis Art Museum installation of the Matisse/Kelly exhibition coming from the Pompidou.
With Shear, visits Cahokia, located about ten miles east of downtown St Louis, a State Historic Site featuring the remains of ancient mounds built by prehistoric Native American cultures.
The Drawing Center, New York, hosts exhibition curated by Bois, “Ellsworth Kelly: Tablet 1949–1973,” also to be shown at Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, featuring selected Kelly’s Tablet sheets of collaged drawings, sketches, and mini-collages that he organized during the 1970s.
“Ellsworth Kelly in San Francisco Collections” opens at SFMOMA to celebrate the museum’s significant acquisitions of Kelly’s work and those in local private collections.
Travels to Basel for installation of “Ellsworth Kelly: Works 1956–2002” at Fondation Beyeler.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego presents “Ellsworth Kelly: Red Green Blue,” curated by Toby Kamps, which travels to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and ends at the Whitney, where Kelly’s eightieth birthday is celebrated at annual gala.
Ellsworth Kelly at the Palais de Tokyo
(former location of Musée National d’Art Moderne), 2006
Granted Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Harvard University.
Creates collage Ground Zero, his unofficial proposal for the 9/11 memorial, and sends to architectural critic Herbert Muschamp, who publishes it in The New York Times on second anniversary of 9/11; collage is subsequently exhibited at the Whitney, coinciding with exhibition “Ellsworth Kelly: Red Green Blue,” and later donated to the museum.
Commissioned by Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) to create two major outdoor wall sculptures for US Embassy in Beijing, to be designed by Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; produced by his longtime sculpture fabricator, Peter Carlson of Carlson Arts, works will be installed in 2011.
The Dallas Museum of Art hosts the exhibition “Ellsworth Kelly in Dallas.”
Creates his first work using “free curves” since his New York years, Two Curves, an idea to which he will return in 2009 and continue to explore.
Begins regular practice of joined-panel painting featuring a shaped canvas set in relief against a rectilinear canvas.
The Menil Collection, Houston, presents “Ellsworth Kelly: Tablet” to celebrate recent acquisition of this body of work.
Traveling exhibition, “Drawn from Nature: The Plant Lithographs of Ellsworth Kelly,” curated by Axsom, originates at Grand Rapids Art Museum, MI.
Granted Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
A documentary about Geldzahler directed by Peter Rosen, Who Gets to Call It Art? premieres, featuring a 1969 interview with Kelly.
Travels to France and returns to Belle-Île. Moves with Shear to new residence near his Spencertown home and studio.
Solo exhibitions at Tate St Ives, Cornwall, and Serpentine Gallery, London, are presented.
Selected works from 1949 to 1959 are displayed in long-term installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Painting for a White Wall and five other works are displayed at inaugural exhibition at Glenstone Foundation, Potomac, MD.
Installs commission for Grand Rapids Art Museum, Blue White, measuring over 25 feet tall.
Ellsworth Kelly with Robert Storr,
52nd Venice Biennale, 2007
Presents drawings from his 1954 “Drawings on a Bus” sketchbook in solo exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery, and publishes facsimile version of sketchbook with Matthew Marks Gallery and Steidl Publishers.
In May, Checkerboard Film Foundation premieres documentary, Ellsworth Kelly: Fragments, directed by Edgar B. Howard, at Florence Gould Hall, New York.
Travels to Venice for opening of 52nd Venice Biennale, curated by Storr, who devotes a gallery to Kelly’s work, including Black Relief with White, in Italian Pavilion portion of his exhibition, “Think with the Senses—Feel with the Mind: Art in the Present Tense.”
MoMA opens solo exhibition, “Focus: Ellsworth Kelly.”
(view of south side), 2011
“Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today,” curated by Ann Temkin, opens at MoMA, featuring Colors for a Large Wall and three drawings by the artist.
Visits Berlin to oversee installation of his second major commission in the city, Berlin Totem, a 40-foot tall stainless steel totem sponsored by the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) for the United States Embassy courtyard.
Designs official award for Leonore and Walter Annenberg Award for Diplomacy through the Arts, established in 2008 by FAPE.
Honored at eighty-fifth birthday celebration jointly hosted by Kathy Fuld, Agnes Gund, Marie-Josée Kravis, and Jo Carole Lauder at the Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, New York, a site chosen for Kelly’s lifelong appreciation for medieval art.
Paired in “Correspondances: Ellsworth Kelly/Paul Cézanne,” curated by Serge Lemoine and Laurence Madeline, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
Donates Tableau Vert to the Art Institute of Chicago.
Solo exhibition of drawings made during his New York years opens at Matthew Marks Gallery, with catalogue essay by Richard Shiff.
Included in “Cézanne and Beyond,” the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with selection of works such as Meschers, Train Landscape, Untitled, and Lake II.
Spencertown, NY, 2012
Stele I displayed at inaugural opening of Rooftop Garden at SFMOMA.
The Modern Wing addition designed by Renzo Piano for the Art Institute of Chicago opens, featuring Kelly’s second commission for the museum, a work for an outdoor courtyard, White Curve, which spans 54 feet wide.
Advanced to rank of Officier de la Legion d’Honneur by the French Republic.
Joseph Yetto becomes Kelly’s studio assistant, joining assistant Nick Walters.
Granted Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Curated by Éric de Chassey, “Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres/Ellsworth Kelly” opens at the French Academy in Rome, Villa Medici.
A 1957 portrait drawing of dealer David Herbert (who introduced Kelly’s art to Betty Parsons in 1955) is included in “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn Museum, New York.
Donates Red Yellow Blue White to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in memory of Anne d’Harnoncourt.
Represented in “On Line: Drawing through the 20th Century,” curated by Connie Butler and Catherine de Zegher, at MoMA, with Gate-Board and selection of his drawings.
Installation view of “Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall,”
The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, 2013
Ground Zero (2003) is featured in “September 11,” curated by Peter Eleey, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens, NY.
“Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture” opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Curated by Michael Semff and Marla Prather, “Ellsworth Kelly: Plant Drawings” is held at Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, and then Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Haus der Kunst, Munich, presents “Ellsworth Kelly: Black and White,” curated by Ulrich Wilmes, which travels to Museum Wiesbaden, where Kelly is awarded the Jawlensky Prize.
Kelly produces Green Panel (Ground Zero), a painted aluminum limited edition of three that revisits green trapezoid he created for his 2003 Ground Zero collage; donates one to the Whitney.
Presented in solo exhibition to inaugurate Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles; exterior of new gallery, designed by Peter Zellner, debuts Kelly wall sculpture that transforms entire façade into large-scale work reminiscent of his 1966 joined-panel painting, Black over White.
Catalogue for “Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings,” 2011
Los Angeles County Museum of Art opens “Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings.”
Barnes Totem debuts at opening of the new Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.
Portland Art Museum, Oregon, mounts a Kelly print show, and the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, an exhibition of Kelly sculpture.
Commission unveiled for the new Black Family Visual Arts Center, Dartmouth College, comprising five painted aluminum panels each measuring 22½ feet high and installed on rear façade of the 1962 Hopkins Center designed by Wallace Harrison.
Cahiers d’Art, Paris, exhibits small selection of Kelly works, plus assortment of ancient Native American artifacts (birds and bannerstones) from his personal collection; installation is timed to inaugural re-launch of journal Cahiers d’Art, featuring image of Black Form I (matte) on cover, essay by Bois, and statement by artist.
Collaborates with Francisco Costa, women’s creative director at Calvin Klein, to recreate limited edition of dress Kelly designed in 1952; the new dress will be unveiled the following year at Calvin Klein flagship store on Madison Avenue, New York, timed to the artist’s ninetieth birthday.
Second edition of The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly: A Catalogue Raisonné by Axsom is published, a two-volume expansion of original 1987 publication.
Kelly turns ninety on May 31. American and European museums host exhibitions and installations in his honor: Pompidou, Paris; SFMOMA; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Tate Modern, London; Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (“Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall”); MoMA, New York (“Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series,” curated by Temkin); Detroit Institute of Arts, and Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. (“Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings, 2004–2009”).
Receives the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Association (CAA).
Matthew Marks Gallery, Kelly’s dealer for over twenty years, mounts the artist’s eighteenth solo exhibition at the gallery, “Ellsworth Kelly at Ninety,” featuring works made in 2012, with catalogue essays by Jean-Pierre Criqui, Robert Storr, Christopher Bedford, and Tricia Y. Paik.
Mnuchin Gallery, New York, presents “Ellsworth Kelly: Singular Forms, 1966–2009,” with catalogue essay by Pepe Karmel.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.
Ellsworth Kelly receiving National Medal of Arts
from President Barack Obama, 2013
MoMA’s annual Party in the Garden honors Kelly, as well as Cindy Sherman and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the city of New York, in recognition of their support of the museum.
To mark his special birthday, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation makes donation to public school districts of Columbia County where he lives, in order to build permanent endowments for school arts programs.
Attends National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal ceremony at White House, Washington, DC, where President Barack Obama awards Kelly with 2012 medal.
Curates exhibition of Matisse drawings selected from the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection, accompanied by a small installation of Kelly’s plant lithographs, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Honored with Hadrian Award by World Monuments Fund in recognition of his significant contributions to cultural heritage, through donation of his works to Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) and support of various World Monuments Fund projects around the world.
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, designed by Frank Gehry, opens to public, featuring a suite of five Kelly paintings and a special commission for its performance space, Spectrum VIII
Serves as curator for “Monet/Kelly,” an exhibition he also conceives and designs, which opens at the new Tadao Ando-designed wing at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Catalogue for “Ellsworth Kelly Chatham Series,”
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2013
Commissioned by the Blanton Museum of Art, the University of Texas at Austin, to realize his chapel design from 1986 as a non-denominational building made of stone and measuring 2,715 square feet. Titled Austin, it will function as a space for both contemplation and appreciation of art: three bays of colored glass windows, a redwood totem, and a series of fourteen black-and-white panels made of marble, all designed by Kelly.
Awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in honor of lifetime achievement in art at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York.
In May, on occasion of his ninety-second birthday, solo exhibition of new works opens at Matthew Marks Gallery, with catalogue essay by Briony Fer.
First volume of Ellsworth Kelly: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Reliefs and Sculptures, 1940–1953, authored by Bois, is published by Cahiers d’Art, Paris.
This chronology draws from extensive research provided by E.C. Goossen, Ellsworth Kelly (1973), and chronologies published in Patterson Sims and Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture (1982); Diane Upright, Ellsworth Kelly: Works on Paper (1987); and Richard H. Axsom, The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1949–1985 (1987). Nathalie Brunet’s in-depth chronology of the artist’s French years published in Yve-Alain Bois, Jack Cowart, and Alfred Pacquement, Ellsworth Kelly: The Years in France, 1948–1954 (1992) was an exceptional resource as was the detailed chronology featured in Diane Waldman (ed.), Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective (1996).