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Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) is regarded as one of the most important abstract painters, sculptors and printmakers. Spanning seven decades, his career is marked by the independent route his art has taken from any formal school or art movement and by his innovative contribution to twentieth-century painting and sculpture. Kelly draws on the connection between abstraction and nature from which he extrapolates forms and colors. Since the beginning of his career, Kellyʼs emphasis on pure form and color and his impulse to suppress gesture in favor of creating spatial unity have played a pivotal role in the development of abstract art in America.


Kellyʼs first one-man exhibition was at the Galerie Arnaud in Paris in 1951. His retrospective exhibitions include Ellsworth Kelly at The Museum of Modern Art in 1973; Ellsworth Kelly Recent Paintings and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979; Ellsworth Kelly Sculpture in 1982 at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Saint Louis Art Museum; and Ellsworth Kelly: A Retrospective in 1996 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tate, London and the Haus der Kunst in Munich.


Recent exhibitions include Ellsworth Kelly Black and White at the Haus der Kunst and the Museum Wiesbaden; Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek and the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; and Ellsworth Kelly: The Chatham Series at The Museum of Modern Art; Monet | Kelly at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and Ellsworth Kelly Last Paintings at Matthew Marks Gallery.


Kelly has received honorary doctoral degrees from Pratt Institute, Bard College, Harvard University, Williams College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Brandeis University, and the Royal College of Art, London. Among numerous awards received are Japanʼs Praemium Imperiale Award in 2000, Officier de la Legion dʼHonneur presented by President of France Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009, and the National Medal of Arts presented by President of the United States Barack Obama in 2012.


This biography is sourced from