Glenstone Museum debuts exhibit for Ellsworth Kelly centennial

To mark the centennial of artist Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923, Newburgh, NY; d. 2015, Spencertown, NY), Glenstone Museum will mount a major survey exhibition commemorating the artist’s seven-decade career. Ellsworth Kelly at 100 will be one of the largest retrospectives of Kelly’s work in the 21st century and the first traveling exhibition organized by Glenstone. The exhibition will travel to Paris, France, where Kelly developed some of his most radical ideas as a young artist, to be displayed at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the spring of 2024, in a presentation unique to the Frank Gehry designed museum. In the fall of 2024, the presentation will open at the Fire Station in Doha, Qatar, marking the first presentation of the artist’s work in the region.

Kelly drew inspiration from nature and the world around him to create a singular style that shaped American abstraction in the 20th and 21st centuries. The comprehensive presentation will chart the artist’s lifelong exploration of the relationship between form, color, line, and space through key works drawn from pivotal periods in his career, several of which will be on public view for the first time.

On view in Room 2 of the Pavilions from May 4, 2023 until March 2024, the exhibition will feature almost 70 works drawn from Glenstone’s collection and those of major international museum lenders, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, the Netherlands; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Major works have also generously been made available from the Ellsworth Kelly Studio and private collections.

Works on view will span the wide range of media in which the artist worked, from painting and sculpture to works on paper, collage, and photography.

Highlights include formative early paintings such as Painting for a White Wall, 1952, a groundbreaking work composed of joined monochromatic panels, and Painting in Three Panels, 1956, a key example of Kelly’s engagement with architecture. These early works, drawn from Glenstone’s collection, will be on view alongside examples from the now canonical Chatham and Spectrum series. A selection of the plant drawings Kelly created throughout his career will feature prominently, alongside a selection of rarely exhibited photographs.

The exhibition will continue in Room 6 of the Pavilions where Yellow Curve, 1990, the first work in Kelly’s series of large-scale floor-based paintings, will be displayed in a custom-designed space. Encompassing more than 600 square-feet of floor space, the installation will mark the first time Yellow Curve has been exhibited since the artist conceived it in 1990 for an exhibition at Portikus in Frankfurt am Main.

“Ellsworth Kelly’s vision for art can teach us so much about looking deeply at the world and translating what we see into its immediate visual components,” Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder of Glenstone, said. “As a lover of nature, Ellsworth’s quiet and practiced eye created paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and collages that are as rewarding and challenging on the fiftieth encounter as they are on the first.”

About Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly is regarded as one of American art’s 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’s first solo 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.

In 2012, Ellsworth Kelly received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. The award citation observed that the artist “has shaped more than half a century of abstraction and remains a vital influence in American art.” The Smithsonian Institute issued a similar declaration in 2015 when it selected Kelly for their James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, describing him as “one of the most important abstract artists.”

About Glenstone

Glenstone, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is integrated into nearly 300 acres of gently rolling pasture and unspoiled woodland in Montgomery County, Maryland, less than 15 miles from the heart of Washington, DC. Established by the not-for-profit Glenstone Foundation, the museum opened in 2006 and provides a contemplative, intimate setting for experiencing iconic works of art and architecture within a natural environment.

The museum includes its original building, the Gallery, as well as additional structures opened in its 2018 expansion: the Arrival Hall (LEED platinum), the Pavilions, and the Café (both LEED gold).

Glenstone is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are also invited to explore the grounds or participate in self-guided sculpture tours. Admission to Glenstone is free and visits can be scheduled online at: www.glenstone.org. Same-day visits can be scheduled online, when available.

ABOUT ELLSWORTH KELLY CENTENNIAL

Ellsworth Kelly is widely regarded as one of the most important painters, sculptors, and printmakers of his time. On the occasion of his May 31 centennial, a year-long celebration will showcase the artist’s indelible legacy.

This collaborative event will include exhibitions and installations at the Art Institute of Chicago, Glenstone Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art, among others; new publications; multiple gifts of artworks to museums; grant awards from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation; a scholarly symposium; and new digital initiatives to ensure that Kelly’s legacy endures for another 100 years, and beyond.

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