Susan Sheehan Gallery

Ellsworth Kelly's Colored Paper Images

Ellsworth Kelly's Colored Paper Images

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Susan Sheehan Gallery is showcasing a group of works from the series Colored Paper Images by Ellsworth Kelly created in 1976. These works were made in small editions, supplemented by artist’s proof impressions. Kelly considered each of these works unique because of the variations in each image caused by the paper pulp printing process.

 

This significant historic group traces Ellsworth Kelly’s progression of utilizing the distinctive medium of colored paper pulp to expand upon his seminal investigations into perceptions of form, line, and color. However, his willingness to experiment with bleeding color and the variable surface qualities of handmade paper was a radical departure from his established preoccupation (which he maintained in paintings) with immaculate shape, bounded color, and pristine surface. The unpredictable nature of the materials allowed chance to enter into Kelly’s highly controlled working process while also making each impression distinctive.

The highly experimental series was created in collaboration with the master printer Kenneth Tyler in Mt. Kisco, New York in 1976 and 1977. It was exhibited in Colored Paper Images at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1978 and it was also shown at the exhibition Colored Paper Images at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. in 2012.

Image: Detail of Ellsworth Kelly, "Colored Paper Image XIII (Yellow/Green/Black/Blue/Orange)", 1976

Ellsworth Kelly

Colored Paper Image XIII (Yellow/Green/Black/Blue/Orange), 1976
32 1/4 x 31 1/4 inches
colored and pressed paper pulp

Ellsworth Kelly

Colored Paper Image XVI (Blue/Yellow/Red), 1976 32 1/4 x 31 1/4 inches
colored and pressed paper pulp

Ellsworth Kelly and Kenneth Tyler applying colored pulp through an image mold, 1976. Photograph Betty Fiske

Ellsworth Kelly

Colored Paper Image XIV (Yellow Curve), 1976 
31 x 32 inches 
colored and pressed paper pulp

Ellsworth Kelly

Colored Paper Image XV (Dark Gray with Blue), 1976
 32 1/4 x 31 1/4 inches
colored and pressed paper pulp

The twenty-five works in this series were created by ladling colored paper pulp into molds. Kelly created the molds for his curvilinear and rectilinear shapes with flexible metal rulers, masking tape, and acetate. He then used the pressure of the printing press to fuse the colored pulp to a wet sheet of paper resulting in this experimental and refined body of work.

Image: Ellsworth Kelly creating a mold with a flexible metal ruler, 1976. Photograph by Betty Fiske

Ellsworth Kelly

Colored Paper Image XII
(Blue Curve with Brown and Gray),
1976 
46 ½ x 32 1/2 inches 
colored and pressed paper pulp

Ellsworth Kelly

Colored Paper Image I (White Curve with Black), 1976
46 ½ x 32 ½ inches
colored and pressed paper pulp

Ellsworth Kelly

Colored Paper Image VI
(White with Black Curve II),
1976,
46 ½ x 31 ½ inches
colored and pressed paper pulp

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly was born in 1923, in Newburgh, New York. He studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 1948, Kelly went to France and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In France, he discovered Romanesque art and architecture and Byzantine art. He was also introduced to Surrealism and Neo-Plasticism, which led him to experiment with automatic drawing and geometric abstraction.

Kelly abstracts the forms in his paintings from observations of the real world, such as shadows cast by trees or the spaces between architectural elements. In 1950, Kelly began to make shaped-wood reliefs and collages in which elements were arranged according to the laws of chance. He soon began to make paintings in separate panels as well as multipanel paintings. During the 1950s, he traveled throughout France and his first solo show took place at the Galerie Arnaud, Paris, in 1951.

Kelly returned to the United States in 1954. His first solo show in New York was held at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1956, and three years later he was included in Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1958, he also began to make freestanding sculptures.

Kelly's first retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1973. Kelly's extensive work has been recognized in numerous retrospective exhibitions, including a sculpture exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1982 and a career retrospective in 1996 organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

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