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Ellsworth KELLY | Orange curve
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Ellsworth KELLY
United States of America born 1923
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Orange curve [Orange white] 1964-65
oil on canvas
310 (h) x 244.5 (w) cm
signed and dated on canvas return u.r., ballpoint pen, "EK 1963" [see notes]
Purchased 1977
NGA 1977.794
© Ellsworth Kelly
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Discussion of the work

Kelly's studies in Paris between 1949 and 1954 put him in contact with a number of established European artists including Jean Arp (1887-1966), Contstantin Brancusi (1876-1957) and Georges Vantongerloo (1886-1965), whose example was influential in giving a direction to his work. He defined the basic ingredients for a boldly coloured, hard-edged abstract art that he was to develop fully on his return to the United States. Referring to the work he did between 1954 and 1965 Kelly stated that, 'the salient feature of my painting at that time was a large curved form that squeezed the ground to the edge of the canvas'.1

This is an apt description for the swelling orange cumulus that dominates the white field of Orange white 1964-65 in the Australian National Gallery's collection. The interaction of the assertive curved shape against the plain ground in this work is a format common to a number of works, each differing in size, colour and the proportion of figure to ground. Kelly thoroughly investigated the impact of change in the many variations of this basic composition in prints and sculpture as well as painting during the 1960s. The artist has confirmed the dating of 1964-65 and the title for Orange white.2

Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.348.

  1. Ellsworth Kelly, 'Ellsworth Kelly', in Colin Naylor (ed.), Contemporary Artists, Chicago: St James Press, 1989, pp.485-6, p.486.
  2. Margo H. Levin, correspondence with the Gallery, 12 June 1985.
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