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Ellsworth Kelly

/Works and biography

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42nd, 1958
Oil on canvas, 153.7 x 203.2 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, 2012
T161.2004 2012.68
© Ellsworth Kelly


In 42nd Street Kelly, who was living in Manhattan at the time, painted an abstracted version of one of the city’s major cross-town streets or one of its elements, possibly an architectural detail, the space between buildings or the shadows cast by skyscrapers. Kelly is sensitive to his surroundings, and with a keen artistic eye catches a visual fragment and distills it into pure colors and forms. Kelly declared: “The most pleasurable thing in the world, for me, is to see something, and then translate how I see it.” The black in 42nd Street assumes an independent existence, liberating itself from the ground and becoming a form. Originally drawn from the outside world, the shape returns to it as a separate fully formed entity. Such simplification of nature was inspired by the art of Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi and Alexander Calder.

credits: Hangar Design Group