Ellsworth Kelly

American, 1923–2015

Kelly had already published two major series of lithographs with Maeght Editeur in Paris in the early 60s, but it was in the 70s that he turned to printmaking as a sustained endeavour. An ambitious printmaker, he produced an extensive body of over 300 editions that are intimately related to his work in other media. Even when he appropriates the shape of a painting or collage, Kelly scrupulously adjusts it to the printed image, reassessing new reciprocities among shape, printed coloured inks, paper and scale.

Installation photo of framed lithograph by Ellsworth Kelly depicting black abstract geometric shape reminiscent of a reverse B.

Untitled [for Obama], 2012

Installation photo of framed lithograph by Ellsworth Kelly depicting orange abstract rectangular like geometric shape on beige background

Orange, 2004

Although Kelly worked with screenprinting and intaglio processes and used paper itself as a medium in the 'Colored Paper Images', lithography has been his medium of choice. The greasy lithographic inks that are absorbed into the paper have the richness of oil paints and an appealing subdued lightness. And it is the transparency and luminosity of these media that imbues Kelly’s lithographs with their liveliness and radiance.

Kelly’s art is based upon perception. He appropriates fragments of chanced-upon visual experience- bits of architecture, the human figure, water reflections, shadows- and abstracts them into taut, iconic images of broadly articulated shape and saturated color, lyrical and serenely self-confident in effect.

—Richard H. Axom, The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1997), 13

Installation photo of framed abstract screenprint by Ellsworth Kelly with upper half printed in black and lower half white.

Untitled, 1973