Ellsworth Kelly


Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) was an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker who was a leading exponent of the hard-edge style, in which abstract contours are sharply and precisely defined.


He first rose to critical acclaim in the 1950s with his bright, multi-paneled and largely monochromatic canvases. Maintaining a persistent focus on the dynamic relationships between shape, form and color, Kelly was one of the first artists to create irregularly shaped canvases. His subsequent layered reliefs, flat sculptures, and line drawings further challenged viewers' conceptions of space. 


Some of his exhibitions include retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 2015 the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, accepted a design by Kelly for a freestanding stone building with coloured glass windows and other interior features designed by the artist. The structure, called Austin, was constructed posthumously and opened to the public in 2018. Described as a “secular chapel” by Kelly’s partner of 30 years, Jack Shear, the building is the only work of its kind by Kelly.


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.