A sumptuous showcase of the exquisite lithographic work of Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015)
Today Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) is internationally renowned as one of the major artists of the 20th century and early 21st century. He is considered to have created a bridge between the great European modernists and the various American avant-gardes. After contributing to the liberation of France as a soldier in the Second World War, he returned to France to live from 1948 to 1954, and returned frequently thereafter throughout his life. Two years after his death, his connection to France has never been stronger. His partner the photographer Jack Shear has recently donated fifty-four of the artists’ prints and his sole book to the French National Art History Institute library (INHA), contributing to its already vast collection of prints from the late 19th century onwards, from the great patron Jacques Doucet.
The collection shows how throughout his career, Kelly experimented with the possibilities that printed images offer, from his first lithography produced in Paris in 1949 to his monumental works on paper in the 2000s. It reveals unknown aspects of the artist’s work, especially a series of abstract colour lithographs and his linear representation of planets produced in Paris in the mid-1960s. There is also his series of variations from 1988 where he uses his own face or the faces of friends as a motif. This exceptional donation is here revealed for the first time along with a selection of Ellsworth Kelly’s works – painting, drawings, collages and prints – which today are to be found in French collections, including a number of previously unexhibited restricted- access works from private collections.