Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Ellsworth Kelly "Great" painting.
 Painting by Ellsworth Kelly, a highly lauded artist, who, at age 90 is "at the peak of his powers."

 New York Times critic, Roberta Smith, reviewing the current Kelly exhibits, said:
      "Now the New York art world is treating him, and us, to a big party. His boldly colored, emblematic paintings and reliefs can be seen in five exhibitions around town. In unusually gorgeous terms, they attest to a lifelong fusion of austerity and high spirits, and a narrow yet deep exploration of pure colors and simple shapes."

Kelly -- Museum of Modern Art, NY
After listing all the NYC galleries showing Kelly's art, the critic said: "All told, these exhibitions present 82 works produced from 1951 to 2013. They reveal an artist who is making some of his strongest work right now, at times with a decidedly erotic undercurrent."


The rooms in all the major museums throughout the world, are filled with paintings similar to what's being displayed at the Museum of Modern Art.

What about Kelly's lithographs, block prints, and etchings of plants?

Ellwsworth Kelly
Sunflower II
Sheet Size: 37 x 29 inches
Signed and dated.

Perhaps Kelly's drawings of plants and flowers could be considered "erotic" in the sense that they arouse in the viewer strong feelings. They're done in clean strokes of pencil or pen and can been seen in Kelly's "Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs" that has grown into 72 prints and countless drawings of foliage.   

They don't thrill me; they're not hard to focus on, but they don't evoke much of anything in my heart and soul other than the word "nice."

Nor does Kelly's sculpture. He has made 30 sculptures in
wood throughout his career -- at total of 140 sculptures. The sculpture in the photograph, is called "White Curves." It's  made of white aluminum and decorates the garden of the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland.

Finding myself uneasy because there are references to this artist being inspired by Monet, I researched, and learned that Kelly hung out with with composer John Cage and dancer Merce Cuningham, both well-known for serial music and serial choreography.

As I read on, I learned more about Kelly's style. All the art critics praise him to the skies,  his abstractions, his vision of life in terms of colors and shapes.  

The very articulate NY Times critic said -- "Mr. Kelly has spent much of his career romancing the vaunted monochrome in Modernist painting. He has approached this absolute without reverence or irony; it is simply the main building block of his art ... The results are not so much paintings as crisp, flat objects devoid of spatial illusion. Yet the best of them are so perfectly made that we tend to forget about their physical nature, concentrating solely on their visual effects instead. Their perfection creates an aura of eternal newness that can sometimes seem antiseptic but just as often is central to  their power."
And I just blink and sort of skim Kelly's art.

Okay, I was connected to Modern Dance, as a choreographer, but I created movement that related to ballet, not Merce Cunningham or Martha Graham. My taste in painters and painting isn't classical or any era or any one style.  I like Monet, Chagall, Gauguin, and Picasso -- Pablo Picasso's  mixture of color, dream-like fantasy -- his distortions of reality create abstractions that I can't explain with words, but enjoy studying again and again.

I find it difficult to find significance, or beauty, or any reason to focus for more than a minute on Kelly's work. That's why I kept looking.

Wow -- I finally found this.

What Ellsworth Kelly himself says -- what he explained here, enables me to see his art --  not just skim it and toss it out the window -- take time and see it  -- SEE IT, and like it.  

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Poet_Carl_Watts said...

Art is communication. If a person doesn't receive or understand the communication, it is not art to them.

But if you get enough people to say a creation is beautiful, agreement will create reality. And so it's beautiful, not as a fact, but as agreement!

I can find something of interest in almost anything. I think an artist is a great person simply because he IS creating.

For that I admire almost all. Those that choose to create ugliness and discord, I choose to give no attention, no admiration which is their loss.

Have a great day and keep on creating.


Carola said...

There is a wonderful small museum in Paris called
The Marmottan, where a very large room is dedicated to Monet's paintings of water lilies and a bridge in all different seasons; some of them more abstract than others.

Linda Phillips said...

Art has to move me in some way. I need to have some kind of emotional reaction. Yes, I was attracted to his color pallet for a brief moment, but this is not an artist that I feel any real connection to.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Art speaks to me or it doesn't, but that doesn't make it less so. I couldn't connect with William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury," even though it is admittedly a well-crafted work. If everyone liked it, it would be something like Coca Cola or a trampoline or the wind in a forest - which are tasty, fun, and beautiful, but not art. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Hi Em. Love it. Not the art. The idea that something is great. Thought you were going to refer to Voice of Fire
For which many people wondered at the cost of 2 or maybe 3 million dollars.
imho, some stuff is great. Some stuff sucks.
Monet is great.
I'll leave the rest to you.
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot has been playing in my head all day. "Lake Michigan roars, Lake Superior sings in the halls of her white water mansion..."
With such beauty in the world, people can be forgiven for not appreciating the other.
As for erotica...
There is no accounting for taste.
As ever, a great topic. I couldn't resist wading in.
Louise Sorensen
louise3anne twitter