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EK@90: Celebrating Ellsworth Kelly’s 90th Birthday    May 2 - Jun 15, 2013

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In celebration of the 90th birthday of a genuine American icon, Ellsworth Kelly, an intimate selection of his prints is on view in the gallery’s Project Space. Tightly focusing on three bodies of imagery published by Gemini G.E.L., the exhibition features just six prints.

The inspiration for the exhibition springs from one of Kelly’s most recent prints, Color Over Black, 2012, a large (28 x 77 inches) lithograph that positions five 7- inch squares in classic Kelly colors (yellow, green, blue, red and orange) above five identical black forms. This stacking of color above a black form harkens back to a much earlier print, Blue with Black I, 1974, in which Kelly cantilevers a horizontal royal-blue “bar” above a black rectangle. The color and black forms at first appear as if they might be identical in size, but Kelly is simply toying with the viewer’s eye through his arrangement of the forms, as they are, in fact, nowhere near identical. These motifs of squares and cantilevered forms are echoed in another lithograph in the exhibition, Two Blacks and White, 2000. At a first quick glance, the print appears to be squares nested within one another, but then it becomes apparent that the only complete square is the black one, at the core of the image, and the white and black forms that surround the core are each only one-quarter of larger squares. Interestingly, the central square measures 9 7/8 inches, and the surrounding white and black forms are comprised of 9 7/8-inch units (2 tall x 2 wide in white, 3 tall x 3 wide in black).

In opposition to this rectilinear imagery, the second area of the exhibition focuses on Kelly’s “curves.” Two prints of similar paper size but with curves of different radius are on view. Red Curve (for Joel), 1993, is a dramatic partial curve in brilliant red. The curve is cropped and placed upon the paper so that the tips align precisely with the top, bottom and mid-section (though not exactly in the middle) of the sheet of paper, effectively tipping the red form en pointe. The second “curve” in the exhibition is Purple Curve, 1999; here, Kelly crops a curve with such a large radius that, since only a portion of the curve is viewed, the curve is virtually a straight line. Only by the title does the artist reveal it’s truly a curve.

And finally, the third component of the exhibition is a single plant lithograph, Tropical Plant, 1995, which echoes the grace of the curves yet introduces a completely different aspect of Kelly’s oeuvre. This injection of Kelly’s hand into an otherwise formal, precisely rendered grouping of imagery, is our acknowledgement of the breadth of Kelly’s printmaking endeavors and celebrates over four decades of his collaborations with the Gemini G.E.L. workshop.

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