Kelly, Ellsworth, 1923–, American painter, b. Newburgh, N.Y. He moved to New York City in 1941, studying at Pratt Institute, and later attended the Boston Museum Arts School. In Paris during the late 1940s, he studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and met many giants of modern art. He began to create relief sculptures and multipanel paintings, formats that remained features of his work. Returning (1954) to the United States, he became known in the 1950s and 60s for his hard-edge paintings, formal, impersonal compositions painted in flat areas of color, usually with sharp contours and geometric shapes. Increasingly large, some were conventional rectangular canvases, some made up of several single-color panels joined to make triangles, trapezoids, and other shape; Atlantic (1956) and Green Blue Red (1964) are in the Whitney Museum, New York City, and Blue Red Green (1962) in the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Kelly has also made large geometric sheet-metal sculptures, e.g., the work (1957) commissioned for Philadelphia's Transportation Building (now Penn Center), and is a collagist and printmaker.
See studies and catalogs by J. Coplans (1972), E. C. Goossen (1973), R. H. Axsom and P. Floyd (1987), D. Upright (1987), Y.-A. Bois (1992 and 1999), and Diane Waldman et al. (1996).
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