Ellsworth Kelly: Linea, Forma, Colore (Line, Form, Color)
Fondazione Nicola Del Roscio
April 13 - July 11 2023
The Fondazione Nicola Del Roscio presents, from Thursday 13th April 2023 to Tuesday 11th July 2023, a new exhibition project dedicated to a key figure in contemporary art history, the American artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923, Newburgh, NY – 2015, Spencertown, NY).
“Ellsworth Kelly: Line, Form, Color”, curated by Jack Shear, the director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, and co-curated by Peter Benson Miller, is the only Italian event organized with the Ellsworth Kelly Studio of Spencertown, New York and occasioned by the celebration of artist’s centennial, to celebrate his work and the importance of his heritage for future generations.
The exhibition gathers an important selection of the artist’s celebrated series of plant drawings and his single-color wall panels, underscoring the “major impact of minor adjustments” in Kelly’s work across different media.
A pioneer of abstraction, influential American artist Ellsworth Kelly is known for his rigorous distillation of line, color and form in drawings, paintings and sculpture. He reduced painting to its essence, eliminating gesture and detail to evoke the power of visual literalness, often melding painting and sculpture to explore ambiguities between foreground and background, plane and relief. Paralleling his non-figurative paintings, sculpture and prints, Kelly repeatedly returned to botanical motifs in series of drawings on paper. The plant studies shown here – ranging in date from 1949 to 2010 – exemplify his rigorous simplification of natural forms into distinctive contour drawings in which the shapes of the objects are defined entirely by line. Kelly was first attracted to these motifs when he lived in Paris between 1948 – 1954, where he encountered the fluid organic outlines in the work of Henri Matisse and Hans Arp. The serial repetition of the same motifs reveals how Kelly made subtle adjustments from one drawing to the next, providing insight into his artistic process.
These variations are also central to the painted wall sculptures he created in 1982. Throughout his career, Kelly blurred the distinctions between painting and sculpture. A continuation of that inquiry, these flat panels of painted aluminum began as a print project and evolved into objects whose three-dimensionality is betrayed only by the shadows they cast on the wall. Recalling the purest of Kasimir Malevich’s Suprematist compositions, each of the flat reliefs isolate a single intense color on a skewed four-sided geometric form. Subjecting each trapezoidal shape to subtle modifications, Kelly, in this series, pushed “flatness into depth, into motion” (Carter Ratcliff, 1987). Demonstrating Kelly’s pairing of shape and color at its most refined, subject to almost imperceptible variations, they constitute small-scale variations on the artist’s more monumental work. Viewed together, which allows individual colors and shapes to play off each other, each of the panels takes on added meaning and character through this interaction.
On display in a separate section are nine black-and-white portraits from the series “Knot” by Jack Shear: lush photographs of a body and cloth performing a provocative ballet, a wrestling match, a tense sequence of appearances and disappearances that immediately take on symbolic weight.[More Information]