Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015, New York) was a visionary painter, sculptor, and printmaker who led the Hard-edge painting and Minimalism movements. The artist first rose to critical acclaim in the 1950s with his bright, multi-paneled, largely monochromatic canvases. Maintaining a persistent focus on the dynamic relationships between shape, form and color, Kelly was one of the first artists to work with irregularly-shaped canvases. His subsequent layered reliefs, flat sculptures and line drawings further challenge viewers' conceptions of space. 


In 2015 the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas accepted a design for a freestanding stone building with colored glass windows and interior features designed by Kelly. The structure, named Austin, was constructed posthumously and opened to the public in 2018. Described as a “secular chapel” by Jack Shear, Kelly’s partner of 30 years, the building is the only site-specific work by Kelly and builds upon the artist’s decades-long exploration of space and color.


Kelly received his formal art education at Pratt Institute, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His career has been honored widely, including seven honorary degrees, the Praemium Imperiale, and the National Medal of Arts. His work is held in numerous public collections around the world, including the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), Tate Modern (London) and Whitney Museum of American Art (New York).  


Related Works

  • Swiss artist Olivier Mosset has developed a similar aesthetic of hard-edge forms and bright hues. View his work.
  • Contemporary printmaker Matt Magee tells ZB, "I like Ellsworth Kelly's work, most specifically I respond to the drama and sharpness of his edges and how he uses space." Magee's forms are just as elegant and defined, and his palette posseses Kelly-esque vibrational energy. View his work.