Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Red Up On"

6 x 8"
oil on panel

One of America's great abstract artists, Ellsworth Kelly, died last weekend at the age of 92.  In 2013, President Obama presented Mr. Kelly with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor for artistic excellence.  This man was important.

I've roamed thru the Art Institute of Chicago a dozen times, barely noticing those six, large, colorful, geometric panels hanging high on the top floor of the American Art gallery.  They're titled 'The Chicago Panels' by Ellsworth Kelly.  To be honest, modern art doesn't grab me like realism does - only because, often, I don't understand it. And being an artist myself, that's a pretty shallow comment.

There's many important 20th century artists I've never heard of or paid little attention to until I read their obituary. After I read several moving obits about Ellsworth Kelly this week, so much made sense.  This man saw patterns in shadows, shapes and colors in nature and in life which he transformed into sculptures and paintings like no other.

Take the example of 'White Curve', which hangs on an exterior wall in the Pritzker Garden at the Art Institute.

Now look at one of Kelly's own photographs taken in the countryside in New York.

Now I get it.  Now I see it.  The red panel in my painting above, one of the six panels I mentioned, was inspired by the rich, reds of a cardinal he photographed while bird watching.  Now I get it.

By most accounts, Mr. Kelly was a delightful, warm, friendly, humorous, creative man who lived in the moment.  That should always be one's New Year's resolution - every day, every year - to live in the moment and  appreciate the beauty around us.  And never judge or dismiss what we don't understand.  We'd all be better for it.

Speaking for myself, I find it hard to appreciate vegetables and Indian food, hot summers, crowds, crowds who sing, performance art and Donald Trump to name a few - but life is long and I'm willing to learn, except for the Trump thing.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy and Creative New Year ~


Lydia (Killebrew) Jechorek said...

Karin, a lovely tribute to Ellsworth Kelly. You were right about appreciation of abstract art and sometimes it is important to understand the artist's concept to appreciate the art.

Pat Kelley said...

Thanks so much for this insightful post on Ellsworth Kelly. I've had difficulty with modern art but this was so clear. And your painting is just beautiful, as always.