Arguably America’s finest abstract artist and sculptor, Ellsworth Kelly, died this weekend at the grand age of 92. Taking inspiration from European surrealism and Asian artistry, he walked his own personal path of exploratory art that fit no discernible category. His work was, in his own words, ‘forever in the present’.
Though initially ill-favoured by many who discounted his art on the grounds of its bold-yet-simplistic design, Kelly’s career took a positive turn in 1956. His first commission, ‘Sculpture for a Large Wall’, was displayed in Philadelphia’s Transportation Building, which led to another success in the following year with his painting ‘Atlantic’. This was displayed in Whitney’s Museum of American Art.
Heavily associated with France, Ellsworth Kelly received three separate awards from the French government between 1988 and 2002, including the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. His final honour was the US’ most prestigious award for artistic service, the National Medal of Arts, which was presented to him by President Obama in 2013.
Whether Kelly’s art still has a place in today’s fast-paced society is entirely subjective: his work looked to specifically challenge the chaos and disorder of modernity with its formless, shapeless zeitgeist, keeping his audience’s eyes open to the ‘rapture of seeing’.
Both emotional and rational, Kelly’s art splits not only its viewers but also its classification. Whether you appreciate his art or not, one thing is certain: his joy for colour and his celebration of such a vivid world is one we should all learn from and appreciate.[interaction id=”5681af7b3a731d3e718aec51″]
You can view more of Kelly’s work here.