Red Orange White Green Blue
Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923-2015)
On View

Ellsworth Kelly painted each of the five conjoined panels of Red Orange White Green Blue in one pure hue, binding color to shape inseparably. The optical force of any one color depends both on the monumental scale of the work and on a sufficient viewing distance from it, where the visual energy of each buoyant hue arises in relation to the others. For example, the position of the white panel is ambiguous. It may act as a color, or it may present a void at the composition’s center. Kelly’s pure, non-referential expression and painstaking attention to pristine surfaces and sharp forms align his work closely within Minimalist and Hard-edge aesthetics. The artist, however, shied away from labels and movements, claiming instead to seek one simple goal in his art: to “find the freedom of colors in space.”


  • Artist Name: Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923-2015)
  • Title: Red Orange White Green Blue
  • Date: 1968
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: overall: 120 x 120-3/8 in. (304.8 x 305.7 cm); each panel: 120 x 24 in. (304.8 x 61 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase, Fellows Acquisition Fund
  • Accession Number: P.1968.14a-e
  • Copyright: © Ellsworth Kelly Foundation

Object Information

Elsworth Kelly, sold 1968 to;
[Sidney Janis Gallery, sold 1968 to];
Fellows Acquisition Fund, Pasadena, for;
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, 1968-1975;
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, 1975.

American Art of the 1950s and 1960s from the Collection of the Norton Simon Museum

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988-08-11 to 1994-04-03

Ellsworth Kelly Retrospective

  • Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, 1974-01-14 to 1974-03-03
  • Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, 1974-03-30 to 1974-05-19
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, 1974-06-14 to 1974-08-11
  • Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), 1973-09-10 to 1973-11-04

Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012-01-22 to 2012-04-29

A Look at New York

  • Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, 1973-06-12 to 1973-07-22

Surface Truths: Abstract Painting in the Sixties

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2011-03-25 to 2011-08-15

Line and Color: The Nature of Ellsworth Kelly

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2018-06-01 to 2018-10-29

Permanent and Loan Collection, 1973

  • Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, 1973-01-30 to 1973-12-31

Recent Acquisitions, 1969

  • Pasadena Art Museum, 1969-11-24 to 1970-01-18

Works from the Pasadena Art Museum

  • Vancouver Art Gallery, 1970-04-14 to 1970-05-10
  • Masheck, Joseph, ArtForum,
  • Coplans, John, Ellsworth Kelly,
  • Art Now: New York, 1968,
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, 1973,
  • Howell, Betje, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 1979,
  • Overture, 1990, cover
  • Buser, Thomas, Experiencing Art Around Us, 1995, fig. 5 pp. 127-128

Additional Artwork by Artist

Blue Red-Orange Ellsworth Kelly 1970-72
Catalpa Leaf (Feuille) Ellsworth Kelly 1965-66
Fig Branch (Figue) Ellsworth Kelly 1965-66

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