New York

Ellsworth Kelly, Banana Leaf, 1992, pencil on paper, 30 1/8 x 22 1/2".

Ellsworth Kelly, Banana Leaf, 1992, pencil on paper, 30 1/8 x 22 1/2".

New York

“Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
June 5–September 3, 2012

Curated by Marla Prather

Since the late 1940s, when he moved to France, Ellsworth Kelly has drawn from nature with a remarkable consistency. Whereas the earliest paintings from his sojourn in Paris court a deliberate clumsiness, the plant drawings he made then, such as his stunning depictions of apples and seaweed, are paragons of finesse. Kelly’s experiments with noncompositional techniques later resulted in a new kind of abstraction, as Yve-Alain Bois has shown. Yet Kelly is arguably our greatest draftsman in a more conventional sense. The plant works are all contour. Kelly’s line reveals the profiles of things we take for granted—tendrils, leaves, pieces of fruit—rendering them newly visible, as if only now are we able to see them for the first time. The Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition of seventy-five drawings has been culled from public and private collections, including the artist’s, and spans the entirety of Kelly’s career.