Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly and Cahiers d’Art: a special relationship

Cahiers d’Art reopened its doors with an inaugural  exhibition dedicated to Ellsworth Kelly showcasing some of the artist’s personal artefacts, paintings and prints.
Concurrently, the legendary ‘La Revue Cahiers d’Art’ was re-launched after a 52 years hiatus with an issue celebrating Kelly’s practice featuring a special cover by the artist.
Cahiers d’Art publishes ‘Ellsworth Kelly, Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Reliefs, and Sculpture, Volume One, 1940–53’ authored by  Yve-Alain Bois and produced in collaboration with the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. 
The publication was awarded the Pierre Daix Prize 2015.
Cahiers d’Art organised a small exhibition in hommage to Ellsworth Kelly following his passing in 2015. 
Cahiers d’Art paid a final tribute to Ellsworth Kelly with the exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: Works on paper  in close collaboration with the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. 
Cahiers d’Art co-published the monograph Fenêtres/Windows with the Centre Pompidou on the occasion of the 2019 exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: Fenêtres/Windows, which brought together, for the first time, the six Windows made by Ellsworth Kelly  between 1949 and 1950 in France. 
Cahiers d’Art published ‘Ellsworth Kelly, Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Reliefs, and Sculpture, Volume Two, 1954–58’



Portrait : photography  by Michel Grinberg, 1953, courtesy of Ellsworth Kelly Studio

Ellsworth Kelly : the extraordinary observer of forms and abstractor of reality.

Ellsworth Kelly revolutionary emphasis on pure abstractive forms and innovative treatment of colour reshaped the practice of painting in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His approach greatly influenced the nascence of Pop Art, Minimalism, Colour Field precipitating the decline of expressionist energetic gestures and the adoption of spare lines and geometries, flatly painted in vivid colour.
A sharp observer of the natural world from a young age inspired by the play of light, space and colour in the architecture around him, Ellsworth’s use of found compositions was a source of endless inspiration and lifelong artistic openness which he translated into visually powerful multi-panel paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs. 
Ellsworth Kelly nurtured a special relationship with France. After serving as a soldier in the liberation of the country at the end of the Second World War, Kelly returned to live in France from 1948 to 1954, and returning to the country regularly throughout his life. 
He befriended Picasso, Calder, Brancusi, Arp and familiarised himself the works of Matisse, Monet and geometric abstraction which would influence his painting, particularly in his quest for balance and intensity of feeling.
Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US. (c) Ellsworth Kelly.

About the artist

Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015) was born in Newburgh, New York. In 1948 he moved to France, where he came into contact with a wide range of classical and modern art. He returned to New York in 1954 and two years later had his first exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery. The Museum of Modern Art in New York organized his first retrospective in 1973. Subsequent exhibitions have been held at museums around the world, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, Haus der Kunst in Munich, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He  featured at Documenta on four occasions and exhibited twice in the U.S. pavilion at the Venice Biennale. 

“While extremely diverse throughout the course of his long career, Ellsworth Kelly’s body of work remains perfectly coherent. Early on, since his time spent in Paris (1948-1954), he rebelled against the then fashionable cult of personal expression and established a number of anti-subjective strategies, allowing him to avoid constructing and imposing his own self (chance, transfer, modular grid, monochrome, unique form, harmony of figure and field). This arsenal of possibilities which he explored patiently and in a very intuitive way throughout his life, will be his Ariadne’s thread, the secret to his patience, his strength and his optimism. Ellsworth Kelly was the last happy modernist.”

Yve-Alain Bois, Specialist of Ellsworth Kelly


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