This exhibition celebrates the centennial of Ellsworth Kelly, acclaimed painter, sculptor and masterful printmaker. Kelly began collaborating with Gemini in 1970, and in 44 years he created over 300 prints and editioned sculptures with Gemini. Through his work, Kelly taught his audience how to look, how to really look, to see things in daily existence that are often overlooked or unobserved — the shapes and colors of natural and manmade things that are a part of everyday life.
Kelly was a committed printmaker, in part because printmaking often gave Kelly permission to explore aspects of his creativity with considerably different approaches than in his paintings and sculptures. In his prints, Kelly publicly shared his interest in portraiture as well as gesture, all the while dedicated to his career-long emphasis on the marriage between pure form and color.
Ellsworth Kelly at Gemini: An Exploration of Color examines the finesse and subtlety with which Kelly used his Gemini collaborations to explore single-color variations. The exhibition is inspired by the observation of Kelly in the Gemini artist studio by Gemini co-founder Sidney Felsen:
Ellsworth stood in the lithography studio, motionless, staring at a wall of 12 or 15 yellow “draw-downs,” which are pure ink samples, straight out of the can. This must have gone on for nearly 15 to 20 minutes. Finally, he walked away and I asked, “Ellsworth, what was that all about?” Ellsworth said without hesitation, “Well, there’s a thousand yellows and I want to be sure I’ve chosen the right one.”
If Kelly was obsessed with choosing the right yellow, that same process undoubtedly applied to his other color selections.This centennial exhibition considers where the emphasis in Kelly’s single-color printmaking endeavors is found—namely in red, yellow, blue and green. Drawn primarily from Gemini’s archive of rare editions, the works on view compare and contrast the variations in these colors in a variety of formal presentations.
In further celebration of the artist’s centennial and Gemini’s many years of artistic collaboration with Kelly, Gemini G.E.L. is announcing donations of examples of Kelly’s prints to six Los Angeles-area museums: MoCA, LACMA, Grunwald-Hammer, Getty Research Institute,The Broad and the Norton Simon Museum. In each instance, the donated works were carefully selected with the goal of augmenting and enhancing these institutions’ existing collection of Kelly prints.