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Hard edge in Grand Rapids

Minimalist painter Ellsworth Kelly has redefined abstraction by examining the shapes and colors found in natural and man-made forms, producing a visually breathtaking and philosophically sophisticated body of work. Of course, not everyone sees it that way. At the soon-to-open Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan, �Blue White,� an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture, has become the catalyst for a local brouhaha about the nature of art. In the Grand Rapids Press, Tom Rademacher describes the artwork as �little more than a $1 million parallelogram wrapped in hoopla and artist babble,� and approvingly cites another viewer�s highly original remark that her five-year old could do just as well.

Troy Reimink, who also writes for the Press, summarizes the debate, and quotes Mr. Kelly�s characteristically gracious response. �The painting did not exist until I made it,� said the artist. �Now that it does exist, nothing would make me happier than to have it reproduced again and again, and vastly improved upon, by all the five-year-olds in town. I would love for your children to find pleasantly and playfully what it took me many angry years to find.�

Check out the slide show included with the article, which shows the installation of the 1,200-pound sculpture and includes audio of Kelly talking about his work.

Ellsworth Kelly�s work is also on view in New York at the Museum of Modern Art. As part of the �Focus� series, a gallery has been dedicated to thirteen of Kelly�s paintings and drawings, some of which are being shown publicly for the first time. Alix Finkelstein writes in the New York Sun that �due to their anti-volumetric plasticity and bright colors, Kelly�s paintings appear to float in space, more spirit than matter.� She does not indicate that her kindergartener could make them.

More TCOP posts on Ellsworth Kelly:
The subterfuge artists of WWII
“Ellsworth Kelly: Fragments” at FilmColumbia Festival
Ellsworth Kelly rocks at the Tate Modern

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