Ellsworth Kelly, 1978
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Barbara CRUTCHFIELD

Born in New York in 1923, Ellsworth Kelly studied at the Pratt Institute before serving in France during World War II. His time in France had a profound effect on him, and after the war he studied for two years at the Boston Museum School. In 1948 he returned to France and studied at the Ecole des Beaux–Arts in Paris, where he counted Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp and Alberto Giacometti amongst his friends. Kelly returned to America in 1949 having embraced abstraction and developed his signature style. This style, which features coloured shapes on a pure white ground, was furthered during his time at both Gemini GEL and Tyler Graphics.

Kelly completed over 100 print editions at Gemini and several more at Tyler Graphics. While most of these works are typical of Kelly, in that they explore colour and shape, there are a handful of atypical works. The collection contains several simple black line lithographs of plants, leaves and flowers as well as a series of lithograph screen prints, St Martin’s landscape, which employ the nude female form as a collage effect.
Emilie Owens


Born in Newburgh, New York, United States

Drafted into US Army; makes educational posters for troops about concealment; tour of duty encompasses England, France and Germany

Studies drawing and painting at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts assisted by the GI Bill program; upon graduation in 1948 moves to Paris, France

Teaches at American School, Paris, France

First solo exhibition, at Galerie Arnaud, Paris

Returns to New York, New York

Solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York

Included in exhibition, Young America 1957, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Receives Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, Wooster, Massachusetts; receives Education Minister. s Award, 7th International Art Exhibition, Tokyo; solo exhibition at Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, DC

Completes first screenprint in United States Red blue, published by Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, for exhibition, A portfolio of ten works by ten painters; completes suite of lithographs at Maeght Editeur, Paris; receives Painting Prize at Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Completes suite of plant lithographs at Maeght Editeur, Paris; travels to Italy and France

Included in Venice biennale, Italy; included in exhibition, Two decades of American painting, organised by International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; travels to Japan; India; Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia; National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia

Included in travelling exhibition, Guggenheim international exhibition 1967: sculpture from twenty nations, originating at Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York

Designs costumes for Lento, performed by the Paul Taylor dance troupe; included in exhibition, Documenta 4, Kassel, West Germany

Completes commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Paris; included in exhibition, New York painting and sculpture: 1940 to 1970, atMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Completes eleven editions of lithographs at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles, including Blue/yellow/red, Red orange/yellow/blue, Black/white/black, Orange/green, Blue/green, Yellow/red orange, Blue/black, Black green, Yellow/black, Yellow/orange, Red orange over black; moves to Spencertown, New York

Included in exhibition, Technics and creativity: Gemini GEL, at Museum of Modern Art, New York; completes four editions of prints and an edition of the multiple Mirrored concorde at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles

Completes group of lithographs at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles including Black/green II, Green/black, Black/brown, Black curve, Green/white, Blue/red-orange and Black/yellow

Retrospective exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly, originating at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Elected member of National Institute of Arts and Letters; receives Painting Prize from Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

Completes Colored paper images series at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Bedford Village, New York

Completes editions of Blue/green/yellow/orange/red, Nine colours, Nine squares screenprint-lithograph at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Bedford Village; included in exhibition, Art off the picture press, at Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University, Hampstead, New York; included in exhibition, Documenta 6, Kassel, West Germany

Completes editions of the multiple Untitled relief, Wall, Woodland plant, Saint Martin landscape, Dark gray and white, Daffodil, Sarsparilla, Mulberry leaf, and Wild grape leaf and prints at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Bedford Village, New York

Solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: recent paintings and sculpture, at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; travelling solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: recent painting and sculpture, originating at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Completes lithographs at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Bedford Village, New York

Travelling solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: sculpture, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; included in exhibition, Paperwork, Australian National Gallery (now National Gallery of Australia), Canberra

Receives commission from Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Texas

Included in exhibition, Prints from Tyler Graphics, at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; included in exhibition, Gemini GEL: art and collaboration, at National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Included in exhibition, Ken Tyler: printer extraordinary, at Australian National Gallery, Canberra (now National Gallery of Australia); receives sculpture commission from the city of Barcelona, Spain

Receives commission for Raffles City Building, Singapore

Travelling solo exhibitions: Ellsworth Kelly: a print retrospective, at Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; Ellsworth Kelly: works on paper, at Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas

Included in exhibition, Projects & portfolios: the 25th annual print exhibition, Brooklyn Museum, New York; included in travelling exhibition, First impressions: early prints by forty-six contemporary artists, originating at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; receives commission for headquarters of Nestlé SA, Vevey, Switzerland

Included in exhibition, Biennial exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Travelling solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: the early years in France 1948–1954, at Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; included in exhibition, Documenta 9, Kassel, Germany; included in travelling exhibition, Innovation in collaborative printmaking: Kenneth Tyler 1963–1992, originating at Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan

Receives award Chevalier de la Légion d. Honneur, Washington, DC, from the French government; receives commission for the Institute d. Art Contemporain, Nîmes, France

Solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: the process of seeing, at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Receives Honorary Doctorate from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; travelling retrospective organised by Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York

Receives Honorary Doctorate, Royal College of Art, London; included in exhibition, Beyond print: masterworks from the Ken Tyler Collection, at Dr Earl Lu Gallery, LaSalle-SIA, Singapore

Receives commission for Berlin panels for Deutscher Bundestag, Berlin, Germany

Travelling exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: the early drawings 1948–1955, originating at Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Travelling exhibitions: Henri Matisse/Ellsworth Kelly: dessins de plantes, Musée National d. Art Moderne, Paris; Ellsworth Kelly, tablet 1949–73, originating at the Drawing Center, New York

Solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: red green blue, at Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California

Ellsworth Kelly currently lives and works in Spencertown, New York.

Solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly in Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas

Travelling solo exhibition, Drawn from nature: the plant lithographs of Ellsworth Kelly, originating at Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Solo exhibitions: Ellsworth Kelly in St Ives, at Tate St Ives, St Ives, England; Ellsworth Kelly in resonance: selections from the collection, at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Solo exhibitions: Focus: Ellsworth Kelly, at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Front room: Ellsworth Kelly, at Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore

Solo exhibition, Art Basel, presented by Matthew Marks Gallery

Travelling solo exhibition, Drawings 1954-1962, originating at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Solo exhibition, Plants, flowers and fruits: Ellsworth Kelly lithographs, at Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, California

Travelling solo exhibitions: Plant drawings, originating at Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, Germany; Black & white, originating at Haus der Kunst, Munich; solo exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: wood sculpture, at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Solo exhibitions: Ellsworth Kelly: plant drawings, at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Ellsworth Kelly: prints and paintings, at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Ellsworth Kelly: colored paper images, at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Drawn from nature: plant lithographs by Ellsworth Kelly, at Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Saugatuck, Michigan

In celebration of the artist's 90th birthday a number of solo exhibitions were held: Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham series, at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Ellsworth Kelly: singular forms 1966-2009, at Mnuchin Gallery, New York; Ellsworth Kelly at ninety, at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; Ellsworth Kelly: panel paintings 2004-2009, at Phillips Collection, Washington DC; Ellsworth Kelly: sculpture on the wall, at Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; travelling exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: prints, originating at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, Wisconsin. Awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barak Obama. Collaborated with Francisco Costa, women's creative director of Calvin Klein, to create a limited edition collection

Ellsworth Kelly died in Spencertown, New York

Barbara Delano © Tyler Graphics Ltd; revised Kate Buckingham, 2006; revised Julia Greenstreet, 2015

This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017