MUNICH.- This selection of around 60 drawings and 24 large-scale lithographs of plants by the American artist Ellsworth Kelly, now 88, spans all decades in which he has been active since the 6 years he spent in France, from 1948-54. This early period gave rise to a rich body of drawings inspired by the close observation of nature that also saw Kelly tackle a centuryold tradition in fine art the depiction of plants. Kelly himself has stated that his early plant drawings form the basis of his entire later work.
It was in Paris that Ellsworth Kelly first embarked on developing what eventually became an autonomous abstract pictorial language. The artist held a teaching post in the city at the American School between 1950 and 1951.
His encounter with works as diverse as those by Monet and Matisse, Le Corbusier, Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Brancusi, Mondrian, Vantongerloo and Picabia had a profound impact on his own gradually evolving pictorial language. Unlike most other American artists of the 20th century, Kelly explicitly included a critical appreciation of the traditions of European modernism in his work. His Plant Drawings reflect a particular mode of perception, which as evidenced in other subjects in his drawings focussed on removing certain visual details, observed from the material world around him (such as reflections and ripples on the Seine, shadows cast from shutters etc.) from their actual context and objectifying them as purely artistic forms. It is this idea that allows the artist to see, for instance, a direct relationship between the curved outline of a banana leaf and the form of one of his shaped canvases.
Ellsworth Kelly is one of the most important artists in the world alive today, and is one of the most sought after names for international collectors.