Ellsworth Kelly (American, b.1923) is a painter and sculptor who established his own style amidst the pervasive influence of the Abstract Expressionist and Pop Art movements. Born in New York City, Kelly admired the works of Naturalist John James Audubon (American, 1785–1851) as a child and loved to draw, even though his parents only reluctantly permitted him to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. After serving during World War II for two years as a camouflage artist, Kelly was able to study on the GI Bill at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, MA, and then at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France.
Separated from the American art world while in Europe, Kelly developed his distinctive method of painting, which features canvases painted in a single color, at times in isolation and other times grouped with differently colored canvases. These works echo Kelly’s desire to separate himself from the traditional roles of composition and the artist’s hand. Kelly only returned to the US when he believed that the enthusiasm for Abstract Expressionism had died down enough to allow his work to get some visibility. By the end of the 1950s, he was internationally recognized for his monochromatic canvases, which began to take the shape of non-rectangular forms such as ovals and curves. Kelly also began to create sculptures similar to his paintings, featuring simple two-dimensional forms. In 1970, the artist moved to upstate New York, where he shifted his focus to create large outdoor sculptures concerned more with color than form. Many of his public works are now on display around the world. Kelly now lives and works in Spencertown, NY.
Sunflower II, 2004, lithograph, 37 x 29 inches.
Black Curve, 1973, lithograph, 26 x w: 26 in.
Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/ellsworth-kelly/
Painter Jasper Johns (American, b.1930) was born in Georgia and attended the University of South Carolina before moving to New York City in his 20s. In New York, he met artist Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008), choreographer Merce Cunningham, and composer John Cage, all of whom profoundly influenced each other. In 1958, Johns entered the public eye when dealer Leo Castelli visited Rauschenberg’s adjacent studio; Johns was awarded a show at Castelli’s gallery, which then lead to his first sale at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Famous for his paintings of flags, targets, maps, and numbers, Johns painted seemingly mundane but powerful symbols in a variety of media, such as oil, encaustic, ink, pencil, collage, and relief. Though Johns is sometimes labeled Neo-Dada or the father of Pop Art, his work displays a deep concern with questions of representation and the nature of mark-making within art.
Untitled, 1978. Lithograph on J. Green paper, 69.8 x 101.6 cm.
Cups 4 Picasso, 1972. Lithograph, in colors on Hanga paper, 22 х 32 inches.
Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/jasper-johns/