Ellsworth Kelly

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Ellsworth Kelly is a renowned and famous American abstract artist, whose work, mainly paintings and sculptures, are pioneer and notable examples of the avant-garde movement. Kelly ranks amongst the pioneers of the hard-edge school with his massive and expansive canvases of bright geometric paintings and iconic sculptors.

Ellsworth Kelly was born on May 31, 1932, in Newburgh, New York. He attended primary and high school in New Jersey, and later, he enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. With the advent on WWII, Kelly served the US army in the U.S. Army Engineer Corps from 1943-1945. After the end of the war, Ellsworth began his education and training in art, and in 1946, he enrolled himself at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. For the next two years he immersed himself in pursuing his basic and initial artistic training, and in 1948, the G.I. bill allowed him to travel to Paris, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

In Paris, Ellsworth’s artistic passions and aesthetic senses were influenced and intrigued by the avant-garde movement, and he let himself be carried away in the limitless and unconventional approach of abstract art. In 1951, Ellsworth organised his first solo exhibition in Paris, which proved to be a spectacular hit with the public as well as prominent art critics. Kelly settled in Paris and lived there till 1954, during this period, with his sharply defined edges, abstract contours and bright hues, he successfully established his position as a prolific and influential exponent of the hard-edge approach of painting.

In 1954, Ellsworth returned to New York, and immersed himself in his work. In 1956, he exhibited his work at the Betty Parsons Gallery in a solo exhibition that became an instant commercial and critical success. Kelly went on to stage two more exhibitions at the Betty Parsons Gallery, one in 1957, and later, in 1959. His work began to attract worldwide popularity and attention, and he was invited to participate on several influential and prestigious artistic forums and platforms. For instance, in 1958, he was invited to participate at the Brussels World’s Fair, and later in 1959, he contributed his works to the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Gradually, Kelly’s fame began to transcend borders and territories, and he became an iconic and influential abstract artist, well known all over the world. After the 1960s, his artistic career and commercial success truly took off, as in 1961, he was invited to the Sao Paulo Biennial, and in 1962, he participated in the Seattle World’s Fair.

Kelly’s work has been showcased at several prestigious museums including the Whitney Museum New York City, Guggenheim Museum New York City, Los Angeles City Museum of Art, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Dallas Museum in Texas. In addition, Kelly is accredited for numerous notable public commissions that include, a plastic mosaic mural for the Eastman House in New York, a painted metal relief for the Transportation Building in Philadelphia and a mural for the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair of 1964.

In 1962, Ellsworth Kelly was awarded the Carnegie International and the same year, he received a fine arts citation from the Brandeis University. In 1964, he became the recipient of the Carnegie International once again.

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