In a special exhibit that will run through September 8th, the DIA is showing selections from their collection of Ellsworth Kelly prints. Kelly is an abstract print artist whose work deals primarily in bright blocks of color. Originally a native of Newburgh, New York and a student of the Pratt institute in New York City, Kelly was eventually drafted into the army and lived in Paris from 1948-1954, where he became heavily influenced by Cubism, Surrealism and Abstraction. Also a painter and sculptor, Kelly’s printmaking is just one of several modes that he uses to produce finished work, the print being just one possible iteration of an idea that he may develop as a collage or drawing before printing, painting or sculpting. The nearly 300 print editions, largely sorted into 23 series, represent only one arm of Kelly’s output, which also includes steel and wood sculptures. Printmaking seems to be for Kelly a process of continuing to develop ideas, but also an end in itself, governed by exacting rules for correct execution.
Within Kelly’s “family of forms” are rectangles, angled and curved shapes, examples of which are all on display within this special exhibit. The intimacy of the small gallery within the DIA afford viewers and seasoned printmakers an opportunity to appreciate the density and finish of the shapes, and all the vibrant colors and primal shapes make it a fun, upbeat experience for people of all ages.
For fans of Modern art, of printmaking, or even Sesame Street, there is a lot to enjoy about the Ellsworth Kelly exhibit at the DIA.
The Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; www.dia.org.