“All my work comes from perceiving. I kept seeing things that were brooding in me. I'm not a geometric artist.”
Ellsworth Kelly (Newburgh, New York, 1923 - Spencertown, New York, 2015) was an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker best known for his pared-down geometric abstractions. Kelly studied technical drawing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before being drafted into the army as a camouflage artist. After the war, he studied at the School of Museum Fine Arts in Boston and then the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris on the G.I. Bill. While in Paris, he studied Byzantine icons and Romanesque architecture and met many artists, including Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, and Alexander Calder, all of whom had an influence on him. It was at this time that he shifted his style from representation to abstraction. Kelly returned to New York in 1954 and began to create abstract works in a different vein from abstract expressionism, the dominant style at the time. Rather, Kelly rejected gestural expression and painterliness for spare, geometric works featuring bright color. He was also one of the first artists to experiment with shaped canvases. Kelly's intention for his work was for viewers to have a meditative, bodily encounter.