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

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.