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Ellsworth Kelly

Museum Voorlinden
Buurtweg 90
September 11, 2016–January 8, 2017

Ellsworth Kelly, Blue Ripe, 1959, oil on canvas, 60 x 60".

Inaugurating the newly opened Museum Voorlinden (an initiative of Dutch collector Joop Van Caldenborgh) is the first posthumous Ellsworth Kelly exhibition, which features the painting Blue Ripe, 1959, one of Caldenborgh’s earliest purchases, as a central work. Presenting an impression rather than an overview of the artist’s oeuvre, “Ellsworth Kelly, Anthology” nonetheless includes eighty works—both paintings (from Atlantic, 1956, to White Form over Black, 2015) and works on paper. Curator Rudi Fuchs arranged the works in the galleries with the ease of someone molding wax, creating a spatial unity throughout while following a largely chronological hanging.

The first two rooms present a two-fold introduction, establishing both “Line Form Color,” 1951 (Kelly’s series of forty ink-and-gouache pieces on paper) and a selection of leaf drawings from 1949 to 1992 as groundwork for his oeuvre. The former shows the twenty-eight-year-old artist as a resolutely analytical researcher of the development of line into plane and color, and the latter taps into the life-long inspiration he drew from natural forms.

The exhibition’s spatial concerns are also evident––for instance, Fuchs lets the visitor obliquely approach the red Broadway, 1958, creating a three-dimensional effect, as if Kelly’s shaped canvases from later in his career are already waiting to burst forth. Meanwhile, his dramatic turn from the analytical to the lyrical is emphasized in the last room, where the grand Series of Five Paintings, 1966, and Blue, Black and Green, 2000, are juxtaposed. It is Fuch’s coup de théâtre, allowing the viewer to experience, in a single glance, two aspects of the same painter.

Robert-Jan Muller