New York

Ellsworth Kelly

Matthew Marks Gallery

Unexpectedly, the you-are-in-the-artist’s-inner-sanctum photograph announcing Ellsworth Kelly’s show of recent paintings proved to be a revelation. Surrounded by an aura of splatters, a smooth geometrical shape of uniform color leaped our from the wall, radiant in the bright light of the studio. I spontaneously (absurdly?) read the splatters as signs of expression and hard work, all of which had been eliminated—left on the wall as so much waste matter, a muck of chance gestures.

Until I saw this photograph, I thought of Kelly as a machine for producing customized painting parts. I regarded his paintings as impersonal and perfectionist: efficient, extraordinarily economical in their means, they seemed like a rare specialty product, as if Kelly were a tool-and-dye expert who makes by hand what can now be computer designed and mass produced. His works are, after all, meticulously planned and

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