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Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015)

Holland Cotter reports in the New York Times that Ellsworth Kelly has passed away. Recognized for his elegant and vibrant works that blend hardedge abstraction with Minimalism, Kelly lived in Spencertown, New York. His death was announced today by Matthew Marks of Matthew Marks Gallery.

Kelly was born on May 31, 1923 in Newburgh, New York. After his discharge from the Army in 1945, he studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1946 to 1947. In 1948, he moved to Paris and encountered numerous European artists, including Brancusi, Picabia, and Giacometti, among others. Here, he began to craft an aesthetic that incorporated strategies of chance with a tracing of motifs found in life. Returning to New York in 1954, Kelly further harnessed his output and distanced himself from Action Painting, instead focusing on a single shape or working with shaped canvases. These spare yet significant methods of working were examined and refined in much of his subsequent signature work. In his recent paintings, Kelly distilled his palette, often to white or black, and introduced new forms.

Of Kelly's 1996 retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, James Meyer wrote for Artforum: “What can we learn from a retrospective of Kelly’s work? The rewards of sticking to one’s guns.”

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