Artist Page
Ellsworth Kelly
Selected Press
Ellsworth Kelly: Art in America – December 2003 
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Ellsworth Kelly

Self-Portrait Drawings 1944 - 1992


May 10 - June 28, 2003
521 W 21 Street
Opening Friday, May 9, 2003


Press Release

Matthew Marks is pleased to announce Ellsworth Kelly: Self-Portrait Drawings 1944-1992, the inaugural exhibition at his new gallery at 529 West 21st Street. The fourteen-foot-square glass-fronted ground floor exhibition space will be Matthew Marks's third gallery in Chelsea.

The exhibition will consist of 28 drawings executed over a 48-year period. The majority of the drawings are being exhibited for the first time.

Although renowned as an abstract painter, drawing has always been an essential aspect of Kelly's oeuvre. Now, in his 80th year, Kelly brings together for the first time a group of self-portrait drawings spanning nearly half a century, only a handful of which have been seen before. The earliest works, made when the artist was 21, include drawings from Kelly's army days during World War II, his time spent in Boston as an art student, and his years as a young artist in Paris, where he lived from 1948 to 1954. The more recent works were produced throughout the artist's travels.

These self-portraits provide the viewer with an intimate, highly personal glimpse of the development of the artist's style over the course of his career. Seeing how the artist sees himself, one can follow the changes in Kelly's relationship with form.

The drawings range in style, demonstrating a playful openness to art historical influence. Some clearly nod to such pre-eminent modernists as Matisse, Picasso, Beckmann, and Munch. Others show an interest in Renaissance masters, referencing Cranach, Dürer, and—in a smiling self-portrait, an uncommon subject in any age—Rembrandt. At the same time, the drawings are undeniably Kelly's, some utilizing the same long, unbroken line that one sees in the artist's plant drawings, while the artist's use of sharply-delineated form recalls his commitment to geometric abstraction.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a hardcover book reproducing 52 self-portrait drawings, including all 28 on view. The publication will also include an essay by Harry Cooper, curator of modern art at the Fogg Museum at Harvard University.

Ellsworth Kelly: Self-Portrait Drawings 1944-1992 will be on view at the Matthew Marks Gallery, 529 West 21st Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), through June 28th, 2003. Hours: Thursday through Saturday, 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

In addition, an exhibition of the artist's recent work, Ellsworth Kelly: Recent Painting and Sculpture, will run concurrently at Matthew Marks Gallery at both 523 West 24th Street and 522 West 22nd Street.

For further information or photographs, please contact Victoria Cuthbert at 212-243-0200.

Artist Page
Ellsworth Kelly
Selected Press
Ellsworth Kelly: Art in America – December 2003 
Download (PDF 251 K)
Additional Information
Announcement