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Ellsworth Kelly: Selected Prints

Portland Art Museum, Portland OR – Jun 16-Sep 16
Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR – Jun 7-Jul 28

Ellsworth Kelly, Dark Blue

Ellsworth Kelly, Dark Blue (2001), lithograph on Rives BFK paper [Portland Art Museum, Portland OR, Jun 16-Sep 16/Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, Jun 7-Jul 28] Courtesy: Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, Oregon / © 2001 Ellsworth Kelly and Gemini G.E.L. LLC

Ellsworth Kelly, Green with Red

Ellsworth Kelly, Green with Red (Vert avec Rouge) (1964-65), lithograph on Rives BFK paper [Portland Art Museum, Portland OR, Jun 16-Sep 16/Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, Jun 7-Jul 28] © Ellsworth Kelly and Maeght Editeur, Paris

Ellsworth Kelly, Blue and Orange and Green

Ellsworth Kelly, Blue and Orange and Green (Bleu et Orange et Vert ) (1964-65), lithograph on Rives BFK paper [Portland Art Museum, Portland OR, Jun 16-Sep 16/Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, Jun 7-Jul 28] © Ellsworth Kelly and Maeght Editeur, Paris

Ellsworth Kelly is known for his minimalist abstractions and shaped canvases that stress the subtle relationship between colour and form. These two exhibitions focus on Kelly’s print work, which shares the same aesthetic principles.  Kelly’s lasting dedication to a singular vision has endured the many waves of modern and contemporary art movements. The celebrated American artist was born in upstate New York in 1923, and spent his formative years in Paris during the late 1940s and early 1950s absorbing French abstraction in works by such artists as Jean Arp, Joan Miró and Alberto Giacometti, an experience which proved to be seminal to the development of his mature style.

His fascination for pure bold chromatic choices alludes to a sense of space as colours appear to recede into the background. While seemingly stark at first, Kelly’s reductive approach proves to be warm and friendly. He often uses soft curvilinear edges within a geometric framework, where the interplay of forms on a plane are like silhouettes that reference familiar elements of architecture, nature and culture.

It is impressive that this important 20th-century artist has maintained a clear vision in his approach to abstraction. Kelly’s tightly balanced works remind one of nostalgic pop-culture on the surface, yet the longevity of Kelly’s practice leads to the realization that these pieces weigh heavily on formal considerations and are more concerned with quiet and subtle perceptions.

Allyn Cantor


 Wed, Jun 20, 2012