Red Yellow Blue White and Black

Ellsworth Kelly1953

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

Ellsworth Kelly’s paintings emphasize the basics of color, form, and shape. While living in Europe from 1948 to 1954, he made an important trip to Colmar, France, to see Matthias Grünewald’s legendary Isenheim Altarpiece of around 1515. The experience was fundamental to Kelly’s sustaining interest in multipanel painting. This work, one of the most influential of Kelly’s early paintings on canvas, is among the last he completed in Paris before returning to live and work in New York. It was realized at a crucial moment in the artist’s development, just as he was beginning to explore the near-infinite possibilities of monochrome, the color spectrum, chance ordering, and multipanel composition.

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  • Title: Red Yellow Blue White and Black
  • Creator: Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923–2015)
  • Date Created: 1953
  • Physical Dimensions: 99.1 × 350.2 cm (39 × 138 in.)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Oil on canvas, 7 joined panels
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, partial and promised gift of Anstiss and Ronald Krueck, 2001.157
  • Artist: Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923–2015)


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