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Artist: Kelly, Ellsworth 11 of 13 Previous Previous | Next Next

Red Orange White Green Blue, 1968

Ellsworth Kelly

American, 1923-2015
Oil on canvas
overall: 120 x 120-3/8 in. (304.8 x 305.7 cm); each panel: 120 x 24 in. (304.8 x 61 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase, Fellows Acquisition Fund
© Ellsworth Kelly

Not on view

Regarded as one of the most significant abstract painters of the twentieth century, Ellsworth Kelly defies categorization. Unlike the Abstract Expressionists who preceded him, Kelly maintains that his works are not about artistic gesture but rather drawn directly from his own visual environment. And unlike the color-field painters that were his contemporaries, his work has always been about shape and form before color. Having grown up in New Jersey, Kelly began to explore his natural environment at a very young age with his grandfather. This interest continued while he served in a camouflage unit in World War II and upon his return to Paris on the G.I. bill. It was during his time in France that he increasingly simplified the shapes and forms of his physical environment under a growing admiration for the work of Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp and Piet Mondrian. Red Orange White Green Blue exemplifies Kelly’s focus on the object above all, however abstracted. The size and shape of the color panels—each a separately stretched canvas—provides first, a form, and second, a reflection on a carefully chosen hue.

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Artist: Kelly, Ellsworth 11 of 13 Previous Previous | Next Next