By Nina J P Evans

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ellsworth Kelly: Photographs

Barn Wall, Meschers 1950 Gelatin silver print 8 1/2 x 12 5/8 inches; 22 x 32 cm

I decided to revisit Ellsworth Kelly, although recently deceased his photographic work makes for an excellent source of study and contemplation. Illustrating the visual mind of an artist. His pieces are complementary to his paintings ... the process as a method of studying the nature of form. This blog post is going to be looking at Kelly’s black and white photography. I know as an artist it must be pretty daunting staring at a blank canvas, as it is with any blank page in a notebook or new computer document. Photography has the added benefit of improving visual design and layout sensibilities, so it’s interesting to compare the medium of photography to his paintings. He favoured black and white as opposed to colour photography, means that he wanted to emphasize key elements: such as lighting, shape, form and texture, without colour values influencing the compositional outcome.

In the photo titled Barn Wall 1950 the texture of the wood is very softly focused, the eye is drawn to the tension created by the horizontal line that breaks up in the far right of the composition, and the natural curvature of the wood. With Beach Cabana 1950 a windbreaker is photographed, a very simple object with a touch of modernity, but Kelly’s observation of the familiar, uses the vertical striped canvas to create tension points with a top inverse edge and lower irregular alignment. The photo Pine Branch resembles the variable quality of brushstrokes in line to his painting titled Brushstrokes Cut into Forty-Nine Squares and Arranged by Chance, and again with the image Sidewalk, Los Angels, there’s an astute observation of light and the shadow line quality. He is drawn to geometric shapes in both his paintings and photography, his photographs like his paintings show us the abstract beauty of forms timelessly seen.  

 Pine Branch and Shadow, Meschers 1950
Sidewalk, Los Angeles 1978
 Shelled Bunker, Meschers 1950
 Under the Boardwalk, Long Island 1971
 Stairway, St. Martin 1977
 Broken Window, Paris 1978
 Movie Screen, Waterbury 1982
 Stonework, Meschers 1950
 Beach Cabana, Meschers 1950
 Roof, Ghent 1972
Hangar Doorway, St. Barthélemy 1977

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